Inès de la Fressange is a name you must store in the fashion drawer(s) of your head.
A muse to Karl Lagerfeld and other top designers around the world; Inès was the first ever model signed exclusively to Chanel in the 80s and more recently walked for the fashion house again in 2011. She’s also been the ambassador for Roger Vivier, and served as the model of Marianne – the symbol of France. That’s just crazy. Imagine the image of yourself being used to represent your country!
The French model/fashion designer/perfumer was born an aristocrat in 1957 to a French stockbroker and Argentine model. I found her age terribly surprising as her exquisite features belie its figure (as you will see in the pictures below).
Inès has been featured by the likes of Vogue, NY Mag, Telegraph, and ELLE. One of her quotes that cracked me up can be found in an article on The Guardian, regarding her essential wardrobe items to being chic.
She declared the navy sweater being a definitive item, ”This is universal – for men, women and children. Every one has a black one and thinks they look like Juliette Gréco but they look like a rat. Navy will always be beautiful – whether you buy it at Uniqlo or Céline.”
I will never be able to look at a person wearing a black sweater without dispelling images of a rat in my head ever again. (I’m glad to say that i DO own a navy sweater, and from Uniqlo too, so yay me!)
Due to Inès’ authority as a fashion legend and being the quintessence of French chic, UNIQLO has collaborated with her for a third collection for Spring Summer 2015.
I had the immense pleasure of being flown to Paris by Uniqlo for their SS15 press preview to speak to Inès, and Naoki Takizawa – UNIQLO Design Director whom Inès worked closely with for the collection.
The press preview was held at Atelier Richelieu and spanned two floors. A large airy room on the ground floor was decorated specifically to show off the SS15 Inès de la Fressange x UNIQLO collection; complete with plentiful of interior props for a Southern French ambience and style inspirations on the walls.
New items in this collection include sports jackets and sweat shirts in vintage styles, each added with subtle yet distinctive feminine accents that is emblematic of Inès. Her signature use of indigo is broadened with the inclusion of caramels and delicate grays.
I love how many cotton and linen pieces there are, making me think of how i’m going to be needing them on my holidays in Asia or summer trips in Europe. Also watch out for a concurrent theme of playful and feminine touches as can be seen in neckline openings, fit and slim silhouettes.
Parts of my Interview with Naoki Takizawa & Ines de la Fressange
Naoki: We’re all naturally inspired by something. By each other.
Inès: Naoki shows me vintage things that he has, I show him vintage things that I found at a flea market. And then we discuss about fabrics. We don’t have the work feeling that much but don’t tell Mr. Yanai. It’s like seeing a friend and showing them what you’ve found at the flea market and saying ‘let’s do a jacket that is similar’. We have great fun. Fashion is done by crazy people who are finally the most reasonable because we are the ones doing the business in the end. But there’s no planning, he’s much more French than I am, I’m the Japanese one, the serious one. That’s how fashion should be done, with desire and happiness and enthusiasm. It’s not something for intellectual people.
Naoki: I think for a brand like Uniqlo, we don’t follow the trends. We try to think about what the customer needs.
Inès: A lot of down-to-earth things. I don’t find a real raincoat that I want. So I say ‘let’s do it’. We don’t even have a list of things to do. Usually when you design a collection you need two shapes of pants, two shapes of shirts, one coat. It’s done like this nowadays in all the studios. But we never thought of those, we had such freedom, I must say.
Naoki: Also the model and how to show the clothes. With high profile designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Jean-Paul Gaultier, we see what are the good clothes for women. This is a good thing for us, we don’t need to talk a lot, I don’t need to explain to her about the fabric – ‘this is wool, this is the front, this is the back.’
Inès: We work a lot like in the 80’s. It was all about ‘let’s do the things we want’. Now in the studios it’s no longer like that. The fact that there are a thousand shops in the world means that (there is) a lot of fabric and we cannot afford to have good quality fabric because of that. I didn’t expect that (for this collection), having such good quality. I noticed that the pieces that we prefer in the first collection (became the greatest hits in the shops) and this gives us a certain power now. We’ve been showing what we like and what we believe in, and it was disappearing very quickly in the shops.
Which are personally your favourite pieces?
Inès: I think the jacket and jeans is perfection because it is well cut. And that first jacket there, it is very light and with no lining. I could fold it quite small and put it in my case. Wrinkle is beautiful and it will fit with the shirt, T-shirts, it would be easy. This has a classic cut, the colour is great the detail is there.
This is a very strong collection. I can imagine the lifestyle for it.
Naoki: This collection is much bigger than the last collection.
Inès: And it is also exclusive fabric. Design exclusive. Like this print, it is just for us. We had more time to work and I hope they (Uniqlo) will order more clothes in the shops. I have my friends complaining that they can’t find something in their size. Just today I received a text saying ‘I can’t find the pants in my size.’
Better be quicker next time!
Inès: Haha yeah maybe!
Naoki: What is the temperature during winter time in Malaysia?
We don’t have winter, so it’s 30 degrees all year round.
Naoki: Oh, so quite constant?
Yes quite constant tropical weather.
Inès: Oh that’s good. Because in France when you go outside you can’t go in a swimming suit into the city. But you don’t want to carry something heavy. And these for instance, they are not shirts and jackets but they are light like shirts. When it’s very heavy, humid and warm you have to dress up a little bit but you don’t want anything. I have the same problem, because sometimes during summer in France it is very very warm but I have to dress very chic so I can’t go just in a T-shirt. I would love to but I have to be a bit dressy because some personality or journalist is arriving. Linen is a dream when it’s very warm, even wrinkle is very beautiful. Cotton is perfection too.
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I had such a great chat with the both of them. It was comfortable as they were jesting and laughing, yet would sit upright when excitedly defending a point. What struck me most was their undeniable passion and devotion to fashion and style, yet not losing their zest for happiness and a fulfilling life.
And i think, no, i don’t think, i KNOW why i feel more connected to the brand after that day. I could see and feel so apparently that their core value is happiness, and it’s so strongly my own too, which is why i’ve felt more of an affinity thereafter.
During another part of our conversation, Inès went off into a passionate spiel. Read it, you can just feel her words spilling out of her soul:
“I prefer not to be that selfish and talk about myself, my image. But I really trust that if I sincerely like something, the others are going to like it. I always notice that things left during sales, left in the shops are the less good things. I trust the customer, even more than the professional people.
The customers are the best, they recognise the best immediately. I don’t think I’m such an example but I trust my desires. And if I think I’m gonna wear it, for the others it will be the same.
I do lots of interviews explaining the Parisian style, on how to mix up things. Most of my life I explain what is the Parisian style. But at the end I know that in a shop, it’s not style that you sell, it’s items.
If there’s a really nice white jacket, people are not going to buy the whole collection they are just going to buy a few items. The whole atmosphere has to be in that one item. They have to be happy even buying just one item.
Each of the things in the collection, we like it. If we didn’t like something it’s out of the collection. Everyone has been asking us which one we prefer, but we like everything. There are many people in Malaysia who have bought our clothes who haven’t even heard of me, they’ve never seen a picture of me and sometimes they don’t even understand that the girl in the picture in the shop is the designer. They just think it’s an old mother. And I don’t care about this, I had all the luck in my life, been famous, been modelling, working with all the best photographers. So my ego is fine.
I’m now much happier if people tell me that they bought a jacket that I did than if they told me they saw my picture in a magazine. It’s like when you have children, people tell you ‘Oh they’re so polite they’re so sweet.’ You’re happy from that much more than if people told you ‘Your skin looks great.’
I’m happy with the success whether they do or don’t put my name in it, it’s not important to me. The rest of the collection of Uniqlo are things that could have been done by me, could have been inspired, and I’m quite proud of it. I know some people are going to wear these clothes in a way that I didn’t expect and mix them up with other clothes that I didn’t do and that’s the game of it.
Finally to answer you shortly, I don’t care if there’s some of me in it or not. I just want people to be happy and I want them not to make a mistake. When they buy something it’s something that they will actually wear and be happy that they bought it. I want them think “Uh oh I only took the white one. I should have also taken the navy blue.” It’s possible at Uniqlo to buy two.”
To view the Ines x Uniqlo collection, visit: www.uniqlo.com/my/ines/
Good luck. I already want half the collection after touching and feeling them all in person.
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Didier and his buddy Nico drove six hours from Paris to Bordeaux, with Clem and i in the backseat of the car. We only stopped once – to grab a quick sandwich and use the bathroom. We might have reached half an hour earlier if a white van hadn’t blown up on the highway and caused a jam, but it was quite a drama with two fire engines edging their way through towards it. By the fifth hour into the journey, i was playfully hitting Clem for fun cos i was SO fidgety and bored (had already napped and read all i could) and he was hitting me back. Soon we were in a wrestling match with each of us warning the other, “YOU stop!” “Don’t continue and cry!” “You hit too hard!” “You started it!” We both finally stopped and i observed, “Hmm. Now we know why kids always start fighting at the back after being in the car for so long…”
Before the dreary car journey, I had the most EXCITING time EXPLORING Jean Paul and Mimi’s house earlier that morning. When i first arrived in their house the night before, we sat ourselves down for food and wine in the living room next to the warm fireplace. During the course of our meal, i observed the most interesting bits and bobs of decorations, pictures, paintings, furnishings and what-have-you in every corner and angle. What a lamp! What a painting! Who’s in that picture? I couldn’t wait to explore!
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The little Chinese. Lah perh-teet shee-noo-ahs. That’s what Clem’s sister calls me.
Our flight was relatively painless save for an hour delay from Doha to Paris. Friends are always asking me what airline I take, and I’m always happy to rave about Qatar Airways. For a return ticket to most cities in Europe, I usually pay RM3,300. During non-peak seasons, tickets go as low as RM2,800. Their service is wonderful – the stewards and stewardesses remind me of how I grew up envisioning airline service. They’re insanely polite and smile genuinely to the point I feel guilty. Their food is so delicious I have trouble picking what I want at every meal. Oh and their entertainment choices are prime as hell. The movies are always so up-to-date that at times they haven’t even reached Malaysian cinemas yet. Score. On the KL-Doha flight, I picked a new Hindi film to watch, called Agneepath. I had no expectations, as I’ve never heard of it before, but I’d say it’s my favourite Hindi film since Devdas. I sighed in awe at the production quality of the dance scenes and costumes, told Clem ‘I’m sorry, but if the main actor proposed to me I might say yes’, and sobbed through all the sad scenes over two small bottles of shiraz.
After a 16-hour plane & transit journey in total, we arrived in Paris on Saturday morning at, I don’t know, 8am. We took ages to get through the tunnel that leads one off the plane as the French policemen were doing strict checks for illegant immigrants. All the French around me were cursing ‘merde!’ about how we had to stand for roughly 20 minutes in the hot sunny tunnel. When I showed one of the policemen my Malaysian passport, he look at it, and brightly greeted, “Selamat Khabar!” I grinned back at him widely, appreciative of the local welcome he gave me, and he said a few more words in Malay which I returned, before being allowed to pass through. Clem said, “I think you must have met the only policeman in France who speaks Bahasa.” I laughed, glad to finally be on French ground.
At the immigration queue, one of the officers let us skip the queue when he saw Clem and I in the ‘international passport’ line and also spoke to me in simple Malay. Clem was completely taken aback, “What? Everyone in Paris can speak Bahasa now or what?!” It IS a really surprising thing but I felt quite proud that people in Europe actually KNOW Malaysia and Malay words. Clem and I arrived at two different immigration booths at the same time, and we separated to go through them. Strangely enough, the officer glanced at my passport, chopped it, and I went through the barriers before Clem. Clem wasn’t amused, “I don’t understand this country. I’m French and I take longer than you!?” I commented maybe it’s my red hair. No one would try to be dodgy and have such an apparent hairstyle at the same time.
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Today is officially the last day of Christmas (12 days of Christmas remember?)
so i thought i should blog bout Christmas Eve before i never do it!
We spent it at Clem’s cousin’s massive farmhouse,
located about an hour from the city of Paris.
The drive to the farmhouse was slightly disconcerting cos:
1. it was snowing heavily
2. there was only Clem, Flore and i in the car and we got very complicated directions to arrive there
3. there was nothing but dark fields all around us. So imagine if the car broke down or something, we’d be lost AND freezing!
But luckily none of that happened
Just like in storybooks,
there was a HUGE Christmas tree
in a HUGE living room
with HUGE presents under it.
I don’t think i could have reached the mid-height of the tree with my fingertips if i wanted to 0_o
Impressively long dining table set up for 20 adults and a dozen children.
Taking turns to prep food in the kitchen
French man in apron… MmmMmmmm
The men shucking oysters. Very manly.
Belon oysters GALORE
Prepping the fromage.
As if i didn’t have enough cheese during our trip in France,
i bought myself some super slimy smellie brie in the supermarket yesterday, to Clem’s distress.
The women doing nothing while the men work in the kitchen.
I could live with this…
It seems customary to open all our presents BEFORE dinner in France,
just like we did at dinner the night before.
It was complete mayhem.
All the adults were on a champagne high;
and all the children were screaming, running around and tearing open presents.
Serge + Flore
Flore, Romain, Chloe
The children were figuring out and playing with their presents all over the house for the rest of the night,
and i’m pretty sure some of them broken the same night too :p
I knew there would be lots of little girls there,
so i brought a bunch of fairy necklaces i bought in Jakarta years ago (and never bothered selling) to give away.
Soon, there were about 6 little girls running around wearing fairy necklaces.
8 if you include Flore and i
“This is my dream come true…” i told Clem, “Seeing all these girls wearing fairy necklaces ”
I learnt how to say ‘sourire’ whenever i took a picture of the small kids,
it means smile in French!
We pulled Christmas crackers,
wore our paper hats,
and wondered over the tiny toys
We got matching hats!
I’m wearing a sheer black top with gold embellished collar from Gallo by Thian
After dinner i taught them how to play a drinking game…
one which i’m sure most of you reading this know about.
Another little girl was wearing socks with gold polka dots like me!
Flore called us sock sistas.
All the pictures i have after dinner are blurry and drunk.
So i’m just posting one!
We danced and danced till one by one, people started passing out.
At one point i was lying underneath the giant Christmas tree thinking, “So prettyyyy”
And weirdly enough… i couldn’t drink anymore.
I just. Couldn’t. Drink. Anymore.
I couldn’t swallow anymore champagne or wine without feeling like i was going to throw up.
So i took it as a sign for myself to retire to bed!
Lots of people stayed over in the farmhouse that night,
Clem and i got a makeshift bed on the landing on the first floor
which is usually the childrens’ study room or something.
In my tired and tipsy state, i found 5 colour pencils poking at me underneath the covers and thought, “Darn kids!”
Found out the next morning it was placed there by Clem’s 40-year-old cousin to bug us
SO MUCH to tell about Christmas with a gazillion pictures so i have to go through them slowly later!
These are some i edited last week but didn’t have time to post cos we moved from Bordeaux to Le Mee for 2 nights,
then to a farmhouse in Mont (just outside Paris) for Christmas eve.
I’ve drunk more alchohol than water for the past few days,
and don’t think i can look at another oyster or piece of foie gras without cringing as i gave in to greed and overdid it at every meal.
Here are some pix taken in Le Marais, a trendy gay-friendly area in Paris with lots of interesting shops and art galleries.
Even as a lover of all fatty food,
the bone marrow i gleefully ordered as my entree was a bit too much for me to take after emptying 2 and a half bones…
Guerande salt to be eaten with the marrow.
Had a steak but it couldn’t compare to the luscious homemade ones i had for Christmas later on!
18 rue des Archives
Tel: 01 40 27 87 72
The vintage items here are pretty expensive, with a pair of sunnies going at 75 euros.
Ouch… think i’d get a bigger shopping orgasm from finding an authentic but cheap pair in a flea market somewhere!
Puffer fish scho kiut!
I can imagine that my future house will be filled with all these crazy paraphernalia.
This doggie made me think of Steph and Aps.
Cos Steph likes making animals, and Aps likes cross-stitching.
Was trying to take a sneaky shot of this man above who looked like a quirky character but he just WOULDN’T TURN AROUND.
Annick Goutal perfume.
Clem played with the dropper while the lady wasn’t looking and spilled some.
Such a child.
Flowers in plastic bags pretending to be vases.
A light constructed of bells!
I would like these whacky chairs please.
Okay gotta go watch some French DVD with Clem and Flore.
I must admit i’m relieved Christmas is over and i’m not expected to stuff my body anymore!
But it was gorgeous with snow from the 23rd onwards,
lots of champagne,
and Clem’s family made me feel SO welcome <3
It couldn’t have been any better.
I hope all of you had as wonderful a Christmas as well,
with lots of love and hugs and pressies that made you smile and cry.
The day before we left for Bordeaux,
Clem and i took a walk through Jardin des Tuilieries -
a former royal garden that’s almost 500 years old
and open to the public since 1667.
In front of the Louvre
It’s a very large park,
and we strolled through it trying to absorb as much of the sun as possible for warmth.
It’s so cold that half the pond has frozen!
Everytime i see something sparkly i magnetize towards it.
Clem says i’m like a magpie.
The Arc de Triomphe
That night we went to Bouillon Chartier
(7 rue du Faubourg Montmarte 75009)
a restaurant Flore goes to regularly for its great and affordable food.
It was packed and we had to queue for 15 minutes, which was better than an hour.
I had museau for my entree, chopped nose of some erm animal.
Tried some of Flore’s escargots which was nicer, but i couldn’t resist ordering something new and exotic.
Wanted to order boudin for my main, but they were out,
so had lamb ribs instead.
Had ile flottante for the first time, which i loved!
Flore apologizes for her schoolgirl-like outfit.