Rencontre avec Grégoire Hessmann, l'homme derrière l'Abbaye et La Relève

Meeting with Grégoire Hessmann, the man behind the Abbaye and La Relève

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His tanned complexion, like a magnificent old sea dog, betrays a life on the move. A long time ago, Greg Hessmann lived in South Africa where he worked for local production companies. At another time, the Marseillais held the reins of a women's clothing brand presented in Parisian trade shows. And then there are also all those years when he organized the best parties in the city, the famous Collective Pleasure, when he took over abandoned harbors for one evening to run his wine and play his music. Greg Hessmann ended up becoming a full-time owner: today he is at the head of the bar La Relève and the café l'Abbaye, two good restaurants perched on the heights of the Old Port, where good franquette is an elegance. It is on the terrace of the first place mentioned, between a thousand kisses and a thousand handshakes, that he details the history of his silhouette.

How did your education in style come about initially?

I grew up outside of Marseille, in the countryside. There, we didn't care much about fashion. When I was a kid, my parents, who were pretty traditional in their way, forced me to tuck my shirt into my pants. It was at school that I began to develop a form of clothing culture. My high school was far from downtown, and everyone was all about streetwear. But one of my first shocks was when my sister brought me back from a trip to London some Doc Martens topped with aluminum plates. All of a sudden, I realized that style could go in all directions, that there were other worlds to explore. Later, I started wearing leather coats, biker boots and firecracker colored jackets. I also hung out a lot around the famous Prado bowl and, naturally, skate fashion influenced me: at one time, I wore t-shirts with flames or skulls and I had high socks underneath. my shorts. For me, it was a way of expressing myself. My clothes were a lifestyle.

Today, what is most important in your wardrobe?

Because I'm a surfer at heart, I'm often in a t-shirt, or a hoodie, and when it's cool, I put a jacket on top. But at the same time, I don't neglect shirts. In a way, I'm the poster child for my restaurants. I have a job in service, but also in representation. So I have to pay a little attention to my outfit. I wear my shirts close to the body. It matches my figure. Otherwise I feel like I don't look like much. The cut is a fundamental criterion for choosing your shirt. We see too many people in the street who are loose in their shirts, or who wear them like a second skin that is much too tight. You have to be careful, though...

Your passion for surfing leads you to travel, to Southeast Asia or Central America. And every time you bring back clothes from these places...

I always feel like these are incredible pieces and when I wear them in Marseille, I get “hounded” straight away. My friends winnow me, they taunt me, like when I showed up with this long sky blue jacket that reached below my knees. In Marseille, we love to make fun of unusual looks. But I'm holding on. At the same time, trying to stand out is also something very Marseille. We are rebels. We don't want to be like the others. In an evening where everyone will be in shirts, we will not hesitate to come in t-shirts for the sole pleasure of attracting attention.

“We are rebels. In an evening where everyone will be in shirts, we will not hesitate to come in t-shirts for the sole pleasure of attracting attention. »

Can you make a typology of the looks that parade behind your bar?

It's simple: we immediately notice the one who is Parisian. He's a cutting edge guy, whose hem has perfect seam and proportions, with shoes that have to be the ones that have been featured most recently on the popular sites. The Marseillais pays less attention to his daily style. He can try something, but not every day. It would be too much. Among my Marseille clients, there are still some with some great looks. There are the rockers from Cour Julien, with their rolled-up pants, their short denim jackets, and their leather shoes. There are also some old Marseillais from the working class. Old handsome kids who live near the sea, and who take care of their looks even if they don't have much taste, with a nice tan, their hair swept back, their shirt collar wide open and a bracelet on their wrist . Rest assured, these guys are not an endangered species.

Have you ever considered having the people who provide your service wear a uniform?

For a while, I imagined that my waiters and waitresses would be recognizable, yes. It was not a question of making them wear a white shirt and black pants, but rather a colored polo shirt and an apron. But with the success of the restaurants, I very quickly abandoned this idea. I want my customers to be able to imagine that those who serve them are like their friends. La Relève and L’Abbaye are friends’ bars.

Sauce or coffee, do you often stain yourself during work?

I am a great professional: I never get stained. And if that's the case, it could possibly be a good excuse to go shirtless in front of customers. One thing, too: in the event of a stain, the salt trick does not work. It's a myth, forget it!