Daily Style Phile: Inès de la Fressange, How To look Like A Parisian

by Alyssa Rinaldi · April 26, 2011

From the avant garde, to classic looks-Paris is at the forefront of fashion on the world scene. Realizing this, former face of Chanel, Inès de la Fressange, gives us insight into (and shows us first-hand) what it means to be(come) truly Parisian...

With the foreign accent, the looks, the fashion, and the attitude to carry it onto the streets of Europe, what isn't appealing to the average New Yorker about a Parisian existence?

In her books, this designer, ex-model, author and businesswoman offers a look into what it means to be a true Parisian. Furthermore, in her success, she exemplifies what it's really like to be a Parisian Woman: Beautiful, Strong, Confident, Successful, and Trendy...With just a little touch of her "je ne sais quoi," she embodies what a lot of us hope to be like.

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The Bio:

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-From Gassin, France originally.

-First model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with Chanel in the 80s.

-Once a muse to Karl Lagerfeld.

-Fashion designer, and current brand ambassador for French luxury label Roger Vivier.

-Mother of two girls: Violette, 10 and Nine, 17.

[Ines, 1989,via]

The things that make her great:

-Even at the age of 51, she walked in Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring/Summer collection fashion show in '09.  When asked by TIME what it felt like to walk with all of those young girls she remarked: "I walk on the runway like I walk down the street," something only a true, confident Parisian-esque woman would be likely to say.

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-She's confident: She posed last year, topless (and looked great) for Madame Figaro-at 53.

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-She recently wrote the book "Parisian Chic: A style guide by Inès de la Fressange" that has sold over 100,000 copies in French (titled "La Parisienne") since it was released last fall. Lucky for us english-speakers, she has just released an english version.

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In her book, Ines gives outsiders tips into what you must achieve in order to be a true Parisienne...

First of all she states the central truth about being a Parisian woman:

'Parisian style is an attitude, a state of mind. Between rocker and ho-hum bourgeois, a Parisian is always first, never second. A Parisian steps lightly around the fashion traps of the day...Her secret? She breathes the air du temps and puts it to good use, her way, and always with the same aim: fashion should be fun. The Parisian follows a few golden rules, but she likes to transgress, too. It's part of the style. C'est facile!'

Perhaps c'est facile (it's easy) for Inès, however, the rest of us need a few more tips...And in her book she is happy to reveal them.

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For instance, she told The Vancouver Sun about six rules and the wardrobe essentials:

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"Six rules apply: Mix styles and never coordinate. Reject bling. Explore new labels. If it feels right, wear it. Worship no fashion idols. Beware good taste."

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The Essentials

Stock your closet with a blazer ("belt it!"), trench coat (Burberry if possible, but not necessarily), navy sweater ("more sophisticated than a plain black sweater") and tank top ("a classy supporting act").

Do not forget a little black dress ("not simply an item of clothing, it's a concept"), the "perfect" jeans ("like salt, they go with everything") and finally a leather jacket ("guaranteed to save any overly-conventional look").'

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From those basics, accessorize as you wish. Keep your wardrobe minimal and regularly clear out what you no longer wear. Oh, and smile. "You can carry off anything with a smile," she writes.

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In her book, she stresses minimalism (in the home as well as in your wardrobe)...She urges quality over quantity, making apparent that less is more.

A series of her drawings appear throughout the book, as well...illustrating various thing to do and not to do...

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She also has a section for "Women of a Specific Age" (ie women over 40)...She warns against things like fur for women over 50 (not wanting to appear like a wrinkled trophy wife), or clothing that you haven't worn since you were 30...

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In an Interview with the Times, she discusses..

'The perfect Parisienne never uses soap on her face or wears pink on her lips or goes out without makeup, even on weekends.

She never buys long-stemmed flowers (too difficult to find a suitable vase), but likes to eat (“Rest assured, I do know a few size 4s.”).

She washes her hair every morning. '

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When asked about whether or not she felt like the perfect Parisian woman, she remarked:

“Perfection is a nightmare. A great French wine would be nothing without the taste of the oak barrel or a touch of dust.”

[Inès for les Galeries Lafayette, via]

And we think that's a sentiment that can be applied to fashion, to get at how to be most like a Parisian...Perfection isn't key, rather, it's the confidence with which you wear your apparel that matters the most- that with a mix of wearing what you like, not being too gawdy, and sticking with the basics.

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Alors,

Merci, Inès for your insight into your world.  Though we aren't all stunning, 5'11 and 125 Pounds- you give us tools to become one step closer to the idealized Parisienne.