Ines de La Fressange for Uniqlo

French Fashion, Fresh Style

By Caroline A. Wong; Photos by Alexander Herman

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 3.45.58 PM hate to break it to you Audrey Hepburn-loving, “Paris is always a good idea” fan-girls: the City of Lights isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A few years ago, I spent a summer in Paris, and it really wasn’t about finding my je ne sais quoi. It was about stepping around dog shit in the streets and dodging cigarettes thrown from outdoor café-goers. It was about fighting with Sandro boutique workers and getting thrown out of clubs and French men saying they want to take you home—while they’re still on a date with a leggy blonde. For me, that “I don’t know what feeling” was more “I don’t know what I’m doing here when I can be on the next Eurostar to London.”

I will concede, however, that Paris has a certain fashion blueprint. It has a reputation for an inexplicable effortlessness in the same way that Miami has a reputation for maxi dresses and bold prints. Whether you love Paris or not, you’ll agree with me that the French still have a stronghold on the je ne sais quoi idea of style, and designer Inès de La Fressange does not disappoint. Prior to a dramatic falling out, de La Fressange served as muse to Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld. She was also the first model to sign an exclusive contract with a haute couture design house—presumably before her spat with Lagerfeld, although the two may have patched things up since de La Fressange walked Chanel’s spring-summer 2011 runway. Personal drama aside, de La Fressange is still a classic French woman, and her collaboration with Japanese casual wear brand Uniqlo marries Parisian ease with the brand’s utilitarian basics.

As with the majority of Uniqlo’s pieces, the fabric for this collection seems thicker and sturdier than that of many of the brand’s fast fashion competitors, although the quality is not comparable to Target’s high-end collaborations. For de La Fressange’s spring pieces, however, this is not a negative thing. The fabric is fairly sturdy yet still light and seasonally appropriate. The collection includes classic solids and neutral patterns like stripes in addition to more vibrant pieces like her floral skirt. While the basic shirts, trousers, and skirts seem to complement each other well, the outerwear is sporty—almost to the point of being “junior”—and disparate from the rest of the pieces. Examples of this would be the puffy down jacket and the bomber, which is a popular style for the season but entirely uninspired when it comes to design. That said, de La Fressange manages to capture that “I don’t know what” essence with the majority of her spring line for Uniqlo.