Who stole my croissant

Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg

French lessons from Inès de La Fressange

Here’s an admission: I have a girl crush on Inès de La Fressange, the French model, aristocrat and fashion designer. Inès is the former muse of Karl Lagerfeld and widely seen as the embodiment of Parisian chic and beauty (in 1989 she was used as a model for Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic found on French stamps).

Inès has 34.3K Twitter followers, is almost six feet tall, wears Guerlain’s Mitsouko, claims to have a serious Crunchie habit, and – here’s the really wonderful thing about her – she’s 56 and looks totally fabulous all the time. She’s done all sorts of collaborations, including a recent one with Uniqlo (I wasn’t a fan, see earlier post, perhaps because I don’t have her asparagus shape) and is a brand ambassador for l’Oréal and the shoe designer Roger Vivier.

Inès is on the cover of this week’s Paris Match, which is surely reason enough to dedicate a post to her. On the inside pages she’s photographed in the Palace of Versailles in a giant pink wig made up of her favourite flowers, peonies, looking as if she’s wearing a giant 1950s bathing hat. On another she’s in the vast battles gallery at Versailles, stretched out on a chaise longue in a pair of men’s pyjamas (even then she looks good).

Here’s what I discover about her

*She was very shy as a child
*She had a Polish nanny
*She went to a finishing school in Switzerland called Château d’Oex (classes in the morning, skiing every afternoon)
*Her parents now live in Argentina (her mother who had her at 20 is Argentine)
*Inès has two daughters and brought them up largely on her own (her husband, an Italian businessman called Luigi d’Urso, died of a heart attack in 2006)
*She’s optimistic but has moments of melancholy
*She’s four years older than her current boyfriend, Denis Olivennes (he’s chairman of the media group, Lagardère Active)

And here are 10 of Inès’s top style tips

1. Change your perfume every ten years
2. Make sure you have three makeup bags – one for home, one for your desk and one for your bag
3. Wear jeans with gem-encrusted sandals
4. Only wear mascara on your upper lashes
5. Wear pencil skirts with ballet flats (Inès is mad about ballet flats)
6. Wash your hair every morning (it helps you wake up)
7. Use Chanel gloss rather than lipstick
8. Never wear earrings and a necklace at the same time (‘ça fait too much,’ says Inès, in her inimitable Franglais)
9. Wear pearls with ‘un t-shirt rock’
10. Try to be in love with a man, a project or a house (‘ça a un effet lifting,’ says Inès)

You’ll find these tips and more in Inès de La Fressange’s bestselling book – Parisian Chic: A Style Guide (£13.97 on Amazon). The book is packed with fashion, beauty and shopping tips. Some are practical, others deliciously French. It is better, says Inès, to spend one hour making love or sleeping, than to have a Botox injection.

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