Contrary to their collective name, Rude Manners, Jimmy Launay's and Ysham Avdulahi’s are actually pretty decent. When we meet the rebellious Parisians at their cafe-cum-art-gallery on rue Sedain in the city’s slightly shabby and burgeoningly hip 11th arrondissement, they’re laid back and welcome us with caffeine akin to rocket fuel. Apart from its location and the steady stream of ultra-cool, slightly moody locals that occupy the bench outside, Rude Manners is anything but a typically Parisian café. This is the face of a new Paris, one that rejects the traditions of la terrasse and cultural conservatism in favour of a more modern and uninhibited approach to business and life. “We chose the place, and more than Bastille we chose the street because it’s kind of a new street. Don’t get me wrong, the street was here before, but everything is changing at the moment, so it was an opportunity for us to create something new, it’s like a fresh start,” explains Launay. “Everything we choose has to be authentic, has to have a little bit of history, has to be genuine and has to be cool” adds Avdulahi.
Whilst cool is the crux there is more to it than that. There is a feeling of small scale but significant revolution in the air. A new wave of Paris’ bohemian arts scene can now be found in Bastille thanks to Rude Manners and a cohort of other small, artistic enterprises that have started to move in to the area. The friends and business partners met as young models in London with a few things in common, not least a shared language and a misspent youth. “Rude Manners was inspired by our past, when we were just boys at school with rough attitudes – we were trouble, we were young and we were always the kids cracking jokes,” says Avdulahi “and we’re keeping that spirit alive today, doing things the way we want to do them.”
Jimmy is quick to point out their common vision, which in essence amounts to a cool space in which an invariably hip crowd of young working people can hang out, drink great coffee and appreciate alternative art. “We didn’t want to open a regular coffee shop, we wanted to open something else. We wanted people to come to our shop because they knew that something was happening. We don’t have a business model where we want to make money out of everything. We want to make something cool first and then make money,” explains Avdulahi. “We don’t do it by the rules, we don’t do coffee like we’re supposed to do it in Paris, we don’t like art how the other galleries do it, so Rude Manners is all about doing something different,” adds Launay.
Launay wears: Hooded Sweatshirt Saint Laurent, Sunglasses Givenchy, Avdulahi wears: Hooded Sweatshirt Gucci, Cap Palm Angels, Jogging Bottoms Off-White, Socks Off-White, Trainers Gucci
Flaunting the rules is something they’re good at, and it works. There’s no real strategy in place but they’re selective about who they work with and every project has to fit their subjective but no less powerful ‘cool’ criteria. As we’re wrapping our shoot, a graffiti artist shows up to respray the café’s shutters. He turns out to be @itsaliving, a Mexican street artist living in New York who counts Off-White’s Virgil Abloh amongst his Instagram followers. I point this out to Avdulahi later and he laughs. “I didn’t even know that to be honest because it happened so quickly. He asked if he could do it for us, and we were like, ‘let’s do it’. That’s the kind of movement we want to have at Rude Manners. We want instant art and we want to have creative people come in and work with us. It’s all about changing and inspiring all the time.”
This principle is scrawled all over the walls of the cafe. An ever-changing roster of artists’ work hangs in the space, and their projects range from art installations to street art to flash tattoo nights. When we rocked up on a hot, dry day in June an exhibition of screen prints and techno-colour graphics by American sci-fi cinematographer and artist Joseph Cahill was on. The launch night was hosted by a famous French DJ and hip hop TV presenter from the ‘80s, Sidney Duteil. Youtube him – the man’s associations with the beginnings of the French hip hop scene make him a legend.
Launay wears: T-shirt Lanvin, Jeans Saint Laurent, Sunglasses Givenchy
Despite both having turned their backs on careers in modelling (between them they’ve shot for GQ and walked for Missoni and Givenchy) the connections they made during that time have been invaluable. “For all of the six years we were working as models in fashion we built up a network that was really important for this project to happen, especially artistically.” Now, it’s through these friends, and friends’ of friends and word of mouth that the place gets its creative fuel. Avdulahi thinks for a moment. “Sometimes, it’s just meant to happen. What we’re doing is going with the flow. We don’t choose people because of their reputation, because of who they are or what their name is, we just choose people based on the art that they’re making and whether we like it or not.”
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Sunglasses Givenchy, Denim Jacket Givenchy, Avdulahi wears: Polo Valentino, Track Top Valentino
Particularly symbolic of Launay’s artistic taste is the flash tattoo nights they host at the cafe. For him, you get the sense it’s like a religion. His friend and the man responsible for all of his tattoos, Maxence Varlet, comes in and does them on a first come, first-served basis for Rude Manners customers at a good price. It goes beyond just getting inked. “I think we all consider tattoos as art. It’s not only for the bad boys, it’s for everyone, it’s more social these days, and for me it’s a kind of expression of yourself. If you’ve got your skin inked, maybe it’s because you have something to say to the world.” At Rude Manners they’ve made a place where punters have the licence to be rebellious – it’s not only for the rude boys.
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Sunglasses Givenchy, Denim Jacket Givenchy, Jeans Givenchy
A ride-or-die type determination to do things their own way sets them apart from almost all of Paris’ other coffee institutions and contributes to the gritty, authentic feel of the place. Things seem to happen by accident, a series of benign misadventures culminating in the creation of a space that is a one-off. Launay’s rock ’n’ roll sartorial influences and affection for expletives, Avdulahi’s penchant for streetwear and relaxed manner and their shared love of biking culture make them a well-balanced if unlikely pair, the antithesis of the Paris you see on postcards. A custom-made vinyl in the window reads “C’est un café, mais pas que. C’est de l’art, mais autrement.” It’s a café, but not quite. It’s art, but different. And this is Paris, but not as you know it.
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Sunglasses Givenchy, Denim Jacket Givenchy, Avdulahi wears Hooded Sweatshirt Givenchy
THE RUDE MANNERS GUIDE TO PARIS
Get your caffeine fix Rude Manners, obviously. Paco opens the boutique every day at 8am to serve the best coffee in town. He’ll also feed you with his famous banana bread which we make fresh every morning.
THE DINNER SPOT
Pedzouille, no doubt. If you’re in Paris and looking for real French food, go there. No steak tartare, no snails, but generous and rustic French cooking from the countryside. We haven’t found a better place yet.
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Track Pants Neil Barrett, Trainers Givenchy
LUNCH ON THE GO
There are few good lunch spots around Rude Manners. Lunch is always a rush so we often go for some really good take away at Street Bangkok which is the best place if you like your lunch spicy and exotic. Alternatively, go to Da Vito Pizza for the best pizza in the area and maybe Paris – you might even find a surprise at the back of the restaurant . . .
LIVE MUSIC VENUE
La Mécanique Ondulatoire. They do concerts every week. The vibe is retro ‘70s and they always have talented small bands from around the world performing. Rock on. Launay wears: Overshirt Off-White, T-shirt Lanvin, Jeans Saint Laurent, Cap Valentino
Don’t go to a bar, instead head anywhere outside along the banks of the Seine. Get your own bottles, your snacks and enjoy the beauty of Paris with your friends or even alone.
ESCAPE THE CROWDS
Le Père Lachaise. Because it’s a cemetery it gets that naturally calm vibe (if eerie sometimes) and it is beautiful on the Paris hills. If you avoid the famous graves, you’ll find peace there.
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Avdulahi wears: T-shirt Givenchy
THE LOCAL SECRET
The internet has kind of destroyed places ‘only locals knows’ but if you go around La Butte aux Cailles you’ll find yourself dreaming that you’re not in Paris but in a small village.
IN THE SUN
Anywhere my motorbike can take me. There are a few beautiful spots outside Paris if you are able to drive and survive to the traffic to get out of the city. Special mention to La Vallée de Chevreuse for the nice winding roads.
It’s interesting to define what culture means – I think culture is something really personal as you can find it anywhere if you’re interested. Otherwise, I would say any of Paris’s museums are a good spot for a hit of culture.
Launay wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Track Pants Neil Barrett, Trainers Givenchy, Avdulahi wears: T-shirt Givenchy, Track Pants Valentino, Trainers Valentino
Photography: Matthew Brann, Words: Florence Trott