FRENCH FLARE

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents - Pho­tographed by GON­ZALO MACHADO By LY­DIA SLATER

Ul­ti­mate Parisienne Inès de la Fres­sange up close.

Whether as model, muse, mother or fash­ion de­signer, Inès de la Fres­sange has al­ways been the epit­ome of Gal­lic el­e­gance.the daugh­ter of a French mar­quis and an Ar­gen­tinian model, Fres­sange be­gan mod­el­ling her­self in the 1970s, be­com­ing the muse to Karl Lager­feld at Chanel, who told her he could imag­ine her de­sign­ing her own fash­ion col­lec­tion. As al­ways, the de­signer proved far-sighted. Fast-for­ward to the present day, and Fres­sange, now 58, has her own name­sake la­bel and is work­ing on her sev­enth col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ja­panese brand Uniqlo. Nat­u­rally, she is also mod­el­ling for the cam­paign.“i only do one or two pic­tures,” she says,“but some­times they’re the clothes we sell the most. I’m sur­prised by that.” No­body else is, how­ever, for Fres­sange’s ef­fort­less-look­ing style is en­vied and im­i­tated world­wide.

Fres­sange has many other strings to her bow. She owns a Left Bank bou­tique; she has co-writ­ten a best-sell­ing style man­ual, which she fol­lowed up last year with a guide to chic Paris; and since 2003, she has been the am­bas­sador for Roger­vivier, the lux­ury French shoe brand, a role that has en­com­passed ev­ery­thing from PR to store decor to long-term strat­egy. She re­calls her first meet­ing with­tod’s CEO Diego Dellavalle,who asked her whom she saw as the ideal de­signer to take the la­bel on. Fres­sange sug­gested Bruno Frisoni (serendip­i­tously, she was wear­ing a pair of his shoes at the time). “Della Valle said ‘That’s good news, he’s al­ready done two col­lec­tions,’” she says, laugh­ing. “It was a test to see if we had the same idea of the brand. Bruno re­ally had the spirit of Roger­vivier: witty but al­ways chic and el­e­gant.” which is, of course, ex­actly what one would say of Fres­sange her­self.

She lives in Paris (where else?), in a house near the Jardin du Lux­em­bourg. “There are dogs, chil­dren — it’s a bit messy and not very French,” she con­fesses. “there’s even a tiny In­dian tem­ple at the end of the gar­den.” Her home is shared with her two daugh­ters, Nine, 22, and Vi­o­lette, 16, from her mar­riage to Luigi d’urso, an Ital­ian busi­ness­man and art his­to­rian, who died of a heart at­tack in 2006. Nine has starred in an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign for Bot­tega Veneta, while Vi­o­lette has fol­lowed in her mother’s foot­steps and walked the run­way for Chanel; but their mother says their fu­tures lie out­side fash­ion. “Nine has a pas­sion for theatre,” she says. “And Vi­o­lette wants to be a writer.”

Fres­sange, too, has other am­bi­tions. She’s al­ways wanted to do the decor for a ho­tel; her lat­est dream is to set up an agency, staffed by young com­puter ge­niuses, to reimag­ine ev­ery­day items us­ing com­puter-aided de­sign. Does she ever re­lax? “At the week­ends I feel I ought to see ex­hi­bi­tions and or­gan­ise lunch with friends … but in the end, I’m in bed, watch­ing stupid Amer­i­can TV se­ries,” she ad­mits. “maybe I should in­vent a new life — maybe I should say I’m hav­ing tea with Princess Caro­line? ”the truth is, for all her im­pec­ca­ble beauty, style and wit, Inès de la Fres­sange is a re­luc­tant role model. “my real mes­sage is that no­body’s per­fect,” she says. though to the ca­sual ob­server, she comes pretty close.

wears Inès de la Fres­sange jacket, $1033, vest, $447, and pants, $555; Ver­sace shirt, price on ap­pli­ca­tion; Roger Vivier shoes, $1455; Cartier watch, price on ap­pli­ca­tion; her own bracelets and rings (worn through­out).

Inès de la Fres­sange jacket, $833, and vest, $447; Dolce & Gab­bana shirt, price on ap­pli­ca­tion; Bul­gari watch, price on ap­pli­ca­tion. HAIR NOTE: Pan­tene 3 Minute Mir­a­cle Con­di­tioner.

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