ELLE (UK)

MY FASHIONABL­E LIFE: LEILA SLIMANI

THE FRENCH-MOROCCAN NOVELIST, 38, LOOKS BACK ON HER PROVOCATIV­E PROM DRESS, THE UNFAIRNESS OF NATURAL STYLE AND THE JUMPER THAT KNOWS ALL HER SECRETS

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The author reflects on the style lessons she learned from her mother, plus the investment pieces she treasures and why there’s one jumper she’ll never throw away

I LEARNED ABOUT ELEGANCE FROM MY MOTHER.

She was chic but at the same time a bit eccentric for a Moroccan woman. We lived in Rabat and I remember my mother used to go to work in very long dresses and a Chanel suit jacket, even though she was a doctor. She taught me that you don’t have to do too much to be elegant – it’s something you just have, an attitude.

I BOUGHT A PAIR OF BURGUNDY CHURCH’S SHOES WITH MY FIRST PAY CHEQUE.

My father used to wear Church’s and I always wanted a pair of my own. When I got a job as a reporter for African magazine Jeune Afrique, I bought a pair. I felt very proud. I think that was the first time I understood the value of earning money.

WHEN I ARRIVED IN PARIS I WAS LONELY,

so I would wear very eccentric clothes and go wandering through the streets alone. [As a consequenc­e] people looked at me. Clothes and the way I wore them were a way for me to say, ‘I’m here, I exist, look at me.’

STYLE IS IRRATIONAL AND UNFAIR.

You are either born with it or you aren’t. I see people who have a lot of clothes and a lot of money, but no elegance because of the way they act.

MY FATHER WAS CRAZY ABOUT AUDREY HEPBURN.

When I was a little girl, we would watch all her movies together and my father was like, ‘She is the most beautiful woman in the world.’ So I’ve always wanted to imitate her. She is my icon.

DRESSING IS MY WAY OF CREATING THE WOMAN I WANT TO BE.

Sometimes I want to be strong, sometimes I want to be fragile, sometimes seductive, sometimes invisible. You can decide who you’re going to be through the clothes you wear.

I WORE A VERY PROVOCATIV­E DRESS FOR MY PROM.

It was yellow and almost completely transparen­t so you could see my belly. I think I was a little tired or depressed that day and wanted to provoke everyone to look at me… and they did. All my teachers were like, ‘OK, I was not aware that Leïla was like that.’

THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING IN MY WARDROBE IS A BLACK CHANEL JACKET.

It’s the most classic piece you can own. It goes with everything and always makes me feel confident. Of course, I was worried [about the price] when I bought it but I decided that I would rather buy one very expensive piece than have a lot of clothes that don’t look expensive.

THERE’S A SWEATER THAT I WORE WHEN I WROTE ALL MY NOVELS.

It’s magical for me so that’s what I’ll be buried in. It knows everything about me… it knows all my secrets.

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