Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
News that Inès de la Fressange, the one-time muse of Karl Lagerfeld, had designed a 70-piece collection of clothes for Uniqlo sent me rushing to the Japanese brand’s Kensington High Street store one Sunday afternoon. I had been warned by a French mother that the clothes were ‘very boring and too safe’ but I wanted to see them for myself.
The Uniqlo collaboration, which is displayed at the front of the store alongside posters of Inès looking fabulous, is a mix of shirts, jeans, 1940s floral tea dresses and crumpled blazers in neutral colours. I longed for a bit more va-va-voom but found a handful of French customers browsing the rails happily, delighted with the ‘longer than usual sleeves’, the denim shirts (£29.90) and the muted, minimalist aesthetic of the clothes. One was en route to the changing rooms clutching a pair of white jeans. ‘Let’s see,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately I don’t have Inès’s shape.’
What did catch my eye were the silk shirts (£39.90) but I found the clothes generally too utilitarian and understated to be really appealing. I can’t imagine anyone with curves looking good in Inès’s linen shirt dresses (£39.90) and only the very chic can pull off a crew neck cardigan (£29.90) or a printed dress that looks as if it’s stepped out of a Barbara Pym novel.
The crowds of March 20 were absent but then Inès has yet to become a household name in the UK despite her mythical status in France and elsewhere (she has a staggering 31.6K Twitter followers). Refreshing though it is to see clothes modeled by a woman of 56, Inès de la Fressange’s ironing board physique is a world away from that of the average British woman.
Ines’s bestselling book, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Inès de la Fressange (£13.97 on Amazon) is packed with fashion and beauty tips. Some are practical, others deliciously French. It is better, says Inès, to spend one hour making love or sleeping, than having a Botox injection. Her collaboration with Uniqlo is available in-store and online. Here’s a small selection: