Model? Check. Muse? Check. Fashion designer, creative consultant and official face of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic? Check, check, check. Over the past 30 years, there isn't much that Ines de la Fressange hasn't done on the international fashion front. And now the multitalented multi-hyphenate can add another title to her CV: Author.
The stunning 53-year-old—who has walked the runway for Chanel, inspired the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Jean-Paul Gaultier, made the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, been awarded the French Legion of Honor and helped reinvent Roger Vivier for a new generation of shoe lovers—recently penned a cheeky little tome entitled Parisian Chic: a Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange (Flammarion; $30).
The photo-heavy faux leather bound paperback (co-written by French Elle fashion journalist Sophie Gachet with more than 350 illustrations by De la Fressange) is full of clever, reader-friendly advice on comporting oneself a la Parisian. The willowy writer hews to a simple edict ("Fashion should be fun!") and offers tips on the Magnificent Seven (aka, the seven basic wardrobe items that should be in every woman's armoire), her must-have accessories, dressing for different occasions and the pitfalls of good taste. She also shares her beauty and entertaining secrets, along with her favorite hometown addresses for all things chic (from clothing, shoes and hairdressers to furniture shops, hotels and restaurants). Throughout, De la Fressange adopts a friendly, down-to-earth, irreverent tone that is equal parts wise and wiseass (we mean that in a good way).
"So many women in the morning stand in front of their closet and say 'I don't have anything to wear!'" De la Fressange explained of her reason for writing the book. "Maybe it's true; they have the wrong things. Everybody needs help! Also, I give addresses in Paris (it's always better to have a friend in town…)."
Indeed it is. Especially a friend who is as inherently stylish and in-the-know as De la Fressange. So chic is this mother-of-two (that's her eldest daughter, Nine, modeling in the book) that L'Oreal just signed her to be a face of the brand. Not bad for a babe who turns 54 in August.
"Fashion has been choosing me!" the model/muse replied when asked why she chose to work in fashion. "That 's the way it happens when you become a model (it can't be a vocation). However, since I am twelve I love fashion. My grandmother used to spend a lot of time in couture houses so I am born in silk and taffetas!"
The Fashion Informer tracked down the jet setting style icon a few days before the New York leg of her book tour to discuss her favorite getaway spot (closer to home than you might imagine), her must-have beauty products, and her hidden talents.
What did you last weekend and what are you plans for this weekend?
Last weekend: Sleep and lunch at home with friends. This weekend? Lunch at home with friends and sleep!
What's your favorite getaway spot?
My bed. The guy who invented bed linens and blankets is a genius. Staying in bed during the day without being ill is so good when you learn not to feel guilty.
What's the one beauty/grooming product you cannot live without?
Elnett hair spray and apricot nail cream from Dior: The best hair spay and instant manicure.
What's your favorite method of communication?
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
If given the chance, what one question would you ask God (assuming s/he exists)?
No parents, no home and so many wars because of you; men never changing since the creation. Aren't you tired?!
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
Black varnish ballerinas. They fit all [occasions], save my life all the time. Vivier, if possible.
What's the biggest difference between Parisian style and New York style?
Mixing. Old and new, cheap and expensive, vintage and trendy, casual and sophisticated would be very Parisian. Buying a lot would be rather New York-ese.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
Yes, I am extra lucid. I'll prove it : June is gonna be a great month for you if you wear a lot of navy blue.
For what will you be arrested (hypothetically speaking)?
What one character in literature do you identify with most strongly?
The aunt in Travels with My Aunt. A certain way to see life with optimism, extravagance and unconsciousness.
What's the most you've ever spent on a purchase, other than a house or car?
Maybe an Hermès case all in natural calf, special order. Gorgeous but you put a t-shirt in it and you can't carry it anymore!
What makes you nervous?
People driving too quickly. People who are arrogant and impolite with people who are supposedly not as important [as they are].
When are you happiest?
Surrounded by my daughters and friends wearing plastic boots sprinkling flowers at 6pm in Provence in August.
Ines de la Fressange will be signing copies of "Parisian Chic" on Tuesday, April 26th from 6:30-8:30pm in the Roger Vivier boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
images © PARISIAN CHIC: A Style Guide by by Ines de la Fressange, Flammarion, 2011