This 61-Year-Old French Fashion Icon Told Me 7 Wise Style Tips

Inès de la Fressange is one of those fashion industry veterans who lives and breathes style. She was a Chanel model and muse in the 1980s and has graced the covers of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar over the years. In more recent times, she's written a book on Parisian style, founded her own label, and is now an ambassador for French designer Roger Vivier

Aside from her various accolades and impressive resume, 61-year-old Fressange exudes Parisian chic from the moment she steps into a room. Recently she was in town to promote Roger Vivier's new Sydney store, and I had the opportunity to interview her. My first impression upon meeting Fressange was that she was unbelievably tall (all models seem to tower over my 5'3 frame), and my second was that she is completely and undeniably stylish. Wearing one of her signature looks—a masculine-style black suit—she sat down with me to talk all things French style, and shared her thoughts on what it truly means to be a fashion girl today. Keep scrolling to see some of her best style moments, and read the seven best style tips she dropped during our chat.

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Fressange at Paris Fashion Week SS18.

You don’t have to be rich to be stylish

"Usually, it’s not the most wealthy people who are the most stylish. You just need imagination. If you don’t have a belt, you put a tie around your waist and it’s nice and fun. Today it’s easy to dress well without spending a lot."

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Fressange models for Chanel Haute Couture FW86/87. 

 It’s cool to care about fashion

"I see some women and they’re proud to say, 'I never read women’s magazines'. I think it’s good to keep on having information—it doesn’t mean you’re a fashion victim. You can’t avoid fashion. Everything you see on the runway, people might think it’s crazy and not for them, but after some time they adopt it anyway."

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Fressange at Paris Fashion Week SS19.

You don’t have to wear designer brands

"French girls, they don’t wear many luxury brands. They don’t show off much. They quite like to mix things up—they wear brand-new things with vintage without any prejudice. I think a French girl can buy something in the supermarket and if she thinks it’s great, it’s fine."

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Courtesy of Roger Vivier

Fressange in the Roger Vivier Summer 2019 campaign.

Edit your wardrobe regularly

"I try not to keep too many things because we all have stuff at home that we don’t really like, like a jacket that’s nice, but you don’t really like the cut. I try to avoid that because when you wake up in the morning you get slightly depressed seeing all these things that you keep, but never wear. I try often to give things away to friends or charities. You have to throw things away. Everybody is happier with less."

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Fressange at Paris Fashion Week FW16/17.

Never say never in fashion

"What I’ve learned about trends is that everything  is possible. The things that you hate, 10 or 20 years later, worn by somebody special, you’ll like it. It’s the same with colours. You’ll say, "I’ll never wear orange", and suddenly there’s this orange sweater and you’ll find it great. Like Birkenstocks. 20 to 30 years ago I would never had imagined I would wear those shoes. I thought they were heavy, and now I love them. Never say never in fashion."

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Fressange models for Chanel Haute Couture FW87/88. 

Invest in a good quality accessories

"I’d advise everyone to have a few pieces that are good quality, rather than have a lot of pieces and not good quality. It’s always better to spend a little more for one handbag, even if it’s a little expensive, than to buy four very cheap ones that aren’t really what you want."

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Courtesy of Roger Vivier

Fressange in the Roger Vivier Summer 2019 campaign.

You don’t always have to wear new-season pieces

"French people, they keep things they love. In America, they want to have the brand-new coat of the season, and that never happens in France. Sometimes in America, they buy things before they see it. There’s a big thing about consumerism. In France, sometimes you make a compliment like, "Oh, I love your jacket", and the person answers, "It’s an old one, I’ve had it forever", like they’re proud."