The Business of Being Ines: The French Style Icon on Being a Muse and More

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Photo: Courtesy of Lionel Gasparini

French fashion icon Ines de la Fressange graced our city earlier this month to host the Roger Vivier Icons Connected exhibition, which paid tribute to the most celebrated milestones of the historic Parisian brand from the 1930s to today. Savoir Flair had the pleasure of sitting down with de la Fressange for a chat over coffee about being a muse and honing her personal style.

You’ve been friends with Bruno Frisoni for a long time. What’s it like to work so closely with a friend?
The funny thing is we were not friends in the beginning, but I’ve admired his work since then. Diego Della Valle [the former owner of Roger Vivier] asked me who I imagined as the brand’s designer and I said Bruno Frisoni, because I thought he was exactly the right person to have the spirit of Vivier. And Della Valle said, “Oh, it’s funny you say that, because I’ve already hired him!”

It really started with real respect and admiration for his work, and now I like him very much and we laugh a lot.

It really started with real respect and admiration for his work, and now I like him very much and we laugh a lot. When I say hello to Bruno, the first thing he looks at are my shoes! I won’t say I only have Roger Vivier shoes and bags, because you won’t believe me or I would be stupid.

You’ve been a model, a creative director, and now a muse. Out of the three, which one did you enjoy the most?
Being a designer, because nothing beats making a drawing and then seeing the prototype. Being a model helped me a lot during my younger years, but I don’t think it was an interesting one for me. Being an ambassador is interesting if you work for a brand that you love, which was the case for me with Chanel and Roger Vivier, because it’s easy.

What’s the hardest part of working as a muse for a brand?
I was in New York once and very jet lagged, and we had an event with socialites, but I had no interest in socializing, you know? Nobody was talking to me and I was exhausted. I was there because I’d been asked to, but no way would I ever go to this kind of dinner. For me, I find these things really boring. I prefer to have dinners with journalists and editors, like yesterday evening.

How did you find your personal style? As you grow older, what have you learned in that regard?
I didn’t find it! I think it’s sad when you find it and you stick to it and don’t want to change it up. After a while, you’ll find what works and what doesn’t, what fits you and what doesn’t. When I have to pack, I know more or less what is really useful. I still look at magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram, because you have to be informed – not to adopt the trends necessarily but to pick up little things. Also, I’m lucky because I work with really professional people – editors, hairdressers, makeup artists, designers – and I learn!

Look at your pictures from, let’s say, seven years ago and you’ll see how much better you look now! Youth is not the only thing. It means others have helped you discover your style.

Photo: Courtesy of Benoit Peverelli

What is the most stylish outfit you’ve ever put together?
I once went to a party in pajamas and had a big Hermès shawl in light blue, many pearls, and slippers. I thought that was very chic, but nobody noticed it! [laughs] It was a total flop to others, but I thought it was fun. A good look is when you feel good. For example, next time I see you in Paris I’ll remember that you were wearing gold sandals and a Bella Freud sweatshirt today, because you look like you feel good in it, you know?

What do you do on days when you feel like you’ve put together a terrible outfit?
I go back home – I’m still a teenager. I can also buy something quickly from H&M or Urban Outfitters. But I agree, sometimes a really terrible outfit can really ruin your day. In the morning, I know what I’m going to wear and I have the mentality that I’m going to look perfect all day, and then suddenly I feel different!

At the mention of Parisian style, one automatically thinks black and white. At times, it gets formulaic. Do you think French style is boring?
No, because if I decide it’s good, it’s going to be good. It’s the right pair of jeans with the right shirt – it’s not just a pair jeans with a shirt. There’s more thought put into it. There’s a culture behind it.

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