The story of François Fillon’s suits tells you why the French establishment may be facing the guillotine

Assuming you are a conservative minded Catholic would you vote for this man as your natural champion?

With only a week before the first round of voting, the revelation by the investigative website Mediapart will further embarrass the conservative candidate, who lost his place as frontrunner in opinion polls after being placed under investigation for allegedly giving his British wife a “fake” job as his parliamentary assistant.

Mr Fillon received three suits costing €13,000 from Robert Bourgi, a Franco-Lebanese lawyer, in what he admitted last month was an “error of judgement” — although he denied any wrongdoing.

After the existence of the gifts was revealed last month, Mr Fillon, became the subject of a further investigation into suspected “influence peddling”.

He claimed he had returned the suits, made to measure by the chic Paris tailor Arnys.

However, investigators now suspect two suits he ‘gave back’ to Mr Bourgi were not the ones he had received, Mediapart reported.

“They did not appear to be Arnys suits,” Eric Moutet, a lawyer acting for Mr Bourgi, told the website. “In the pocket of one, there was a ‘Made in Holland’ label.”

There is an echo here of 1789 and the early years of the French Revolution  when wigs ,periwigs and elaborate silks were  torn up in favour of liberty caps, sans culottes and fabrics  that exposed the female body.

The candidate of the last minute surge is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, ex-Trot, ex- Socialist minister, a man who preaches revolution in a democratic context whatever that means exactly.  As a trendy moderniser he projects himself to rallies by hologram. What is more fascinating  to me  is his selection of Mao jackets with a touch of French chic about the cut.

That tells you as much about him as the saga of suits reveals about Fillon.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London