"Poor Bahorel, she's a superb girl, very literary, with small feet, small hands, dresses well, fair, plump, with eyes like a fortune teller. I'm crazy about her."
"My dear friend, then you have to please her, be fashionable, show a bit more of your legs. Buy a pair of doeskin trousers at Staub's. They help."
I don't know that this deserves its own post, but because of my vast love for our student of the eleventh year and by proxy, his tailor, Herr Staub, it's getting one.
To begin with, Les Mis is loaded with historically accurate places and historically accurate people - if maybe not always the historically accurate dates to accompany them. Staub, the tailor, gets a single, passing reference seen in the line above when Bahorel recommends Joly go to his shop for doeskin trousers to earn back Musichetta's good favor.
The footnotes that Mme Bahorel so kindly provided (and translated) in the first pass of the brick readthrough include the following note:
26 (Staub): Staub : tailleur chic, chez qui s'habille, par exemple, Lucien de Rubempré dans Illusions perdues.
Staub: chic tailor, whose establishment dressed Lucien Rubempré in Lost Illusions, for example.
Staub is not just a creation of Victor Hugo's for the sake of having a name to attach to a tailor's, but an actual person who existed in Paris at the time.
In Jim Chevalier's "August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie Came to France" we get the following insight to the man behind the doeskin trousers:
In 1825, Jean-Jacques Staub, a famous Swiss tailor, bought what was still known as the Hotel de Caumont. It was named for Armand de Caumont, the Duke de Force, who occupied it in the eighteenth century. In 1778, his grandchildren sold it to a treasurer-general; which is to say, a very rich man. It then passed through other hands before Staub bought it and "entirely rebuilt it" -- presumably, like Staub's own creations, in the most up-to-date Parisian style.
To be "dressed by Staub" was then a sure sign of status. In The Red and the Black -- which Stendhal wrote while living on the street -- Charles de Beauvoisis is "happy with the cut of Julien's black suit, 'It's from Staub, that's clear.' In Lost Illusions, Balzac has Lucien de Rubempre dressed by the tailor: "The next day, towards noon, his first piece of business was to visit Staub, the most famous tailor of this time... Staub went so far as to promise him a delicious riding-coat, a vest and a pair of pants..." When he died in 1852, Staub left a fortune of 300,000 francs. His proximity could only have helped Zang's new business. It may have helped too that he was Swiss (Balzac and others called him "German"; "Germany" at this point referred to the German Confederation, which among other states, included most of both Prussia and Austria, though not Switzerland.
The address [of Staub's shop] even came with its own colorful -- in this case bloody -- tale. Just a few years before, in 1835, a tapestry worker had lured a woman to the building's rear courtyard on the pretext of an offer of marriage, robbed and killed her, then cut her up into pieces, a crime for which he was guillotined the following year."
It's noted that Staub was a tailor frequently used by Balzac in real life, so it makes perfect sense that he would include him in Lost Illusions (in A Distinguished Provincial at Paris) and with the praise of being "the great tailor of that day:"
Next day, towards noon, Lucien betook himself to Staub, the great tailor of that day. Partly by dint of entreaties, and partly by virtue of cash, Lucien succeeded in obtaining a promise that his clothes should be ready in time for the great day. Staub went so far as to give his word that a perfectly elegant coat, a waistcoat, and a pair of trousers should be forthcoming.
He went back to his inn, and there found the great Staub himself, come in person, not so much to try his customer's clothes as to make inquiries of the landlady with regard to that customer's financial status. The report had been satisfactory. Lucien had traveled post; Mme. de Bargeton brought him back from Vaudeville last Thursday in her carriage. Staub addressed Lucien as "Monsieur le Comte," and called his customer's attention to the artistic skill with which he had brought a charming figure into relief.
"A young man in such a costume has only to walk in the Tuileries," he said, "and he will marry an English heiress within a fortnight."
Lucien brightened a little under the influences of the German tailor's joke, the perfect fit of his new clothes, the fine cloth, and the sight of a graceful figure which met his eyes in the looking-glass.
The Repertory of the Comedie Humaine gives us a couple of added notes regarding Staub as he appears in Balzac:
STAUB, a German, and a Parisian tailor of reputation; in 1821, made for Lucien de Rubempre, presumably on credit, some garments that he went in person to try on the poet at the Hotel du Gaillard-Bois, on the rue de l’Echelle. Shortly afterwards, he again favored Lucien, who was brought to his establishment by Coralie. [A Distinguished Provincial at Paris.]
And, in another note (this time about Wilhelm Schwab) mentions Schwab as having "kept the books [for the tailor, Wolfgang Graff], rival of Humann and Staub."
(Humann gets his mention in Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo: "I can assure you that this hobgoblin of yours is an uncommonly fine looking fellow -- admirably dressed; indeed I feel quite sure, from the cut of his clothes, that they were made by a first-rate Paris tailor -- probably Blin or Humann" as well as another in Balzac's novelette, Z. Marcas as "a celebrated Parisian tailor of 1836 and succeeding years. At the insistence of the students Rabourdin and Juste he clothed the poverty-stricken Zephirin Marcas 'as a politician.'")
But if Balzac - and Bahorel - are to be believed, it's still Staub who is the best in town. And where exactly can one find Staub if they choose to take Bahorel up on his suggestion of doeskin trousers? A receipted invoice kept in the Northumberland County Council's archives dated the 28th of June, 1831 cites Staub's address of the time at 92, rue de Richelieu, to the west of the Palais-Royal; about a forty-five minute walk from the cafe Musain.