How a fashion legend beats the blues: Fashion columnist Joanne Hegarty meets style icon Ines de la Fressange
- Ines de la Fressange is keen to stress she is not Ms Perfect, Queen of Serenity
- She gets low moods, can be lazy and sometimes doesn’t want to get out of bed
- ‘Everyone feels this way at times, you know. I do too,’ the style icon says
Ines de la Fressange is keen to stress she is not Ms Perfect, Queen of Serenity. She gets low moods, can be lazy and sometimes doesn’t want to get out of bed on a busy work day. ‘Everyone feels this way at times, you know. I do too,’ she says.
And yet, on paper, the French former runway model and face of Chanel sounds pretty darn impressive. She now runs her own fashion and homeware brand, Ines de la Fressange Paris, is an ambassador for Roger Vivier and designs a hugely successful clothing line for Uniqlo, which is still going strong after 19 seasons. Her 2010 book Parisian Chic, a guide to that classic French formula for dressing, sold more than a million copies.
Over a decade later, and now 65, she’s back hoping to recapture some of her literary success. Her new book is called Happiness – The Art of Togetherness* and has a similar dip-in, dip-out format. It is co-written with two long-term friends, Olga Sekulic and fashion journalist Sophie Gachet.
Ines de la Fressange is keen to stress she is not Ms Perfect, Queen of Serenity. She gets low moods, can be lazy and sometimes doesn’t want to get out of bed on a busy work day. ‘Everyone feels this way at times, you know. I do too,’ she says
It’s about how the secret to happiness lies in nurturing relationships – both romantic and platonic – and is packed with insights and recommendations that De la Fressange says come with age. But when the idea for the book was initially discussed, she didn’t immediately like it.
‘I thought there were already too many self-help books around and that maybe people would think the subject of happiness was pretentious. But it is true that friendship and relationships are the biggest clues to contentment, and that talking to friends openly can help us put things in perspective and make our worries seem smaller.
‘So I wanted to give my advice on how to get the best out of these. Perhaps the book might make people worry a little less and feel a little happier. If so, it was worth it.’
Not all of her life has been happy, however. The daughter of a marquis, De la Fressange married Italian businessman Luigi d’Urso, whose sudden death from a heart attack in 2006 left her the single mother of two daughters, Nine and Violette, now in their 20s.
Today her long-term partner is Denis Olivennes, who runs the French daily newspaper Libération, and she enjoys a strong bond with her daughters. They teach her about new writers and artists – and steal clothes from her wardrobe.
Not all of her life has been happy, however. The daughter of a marquis, De la Fressange married Italian businessman Luigi d’Urso, whose sudden death from a heart attack in 2006 left her the single mother of two daughters, Nine and Violette, now in their 20s. Pictured: Ines De La Fressange and Sveva Alviti
‘I’m very lucky to have a good relationship with my daughters. They treat my wardrobe like a shop but it makes me happy that they want to wear my things. And we all go on holidays together every summer in Provence where I have a house.
‘I really love young people. I see so many women of my age afraid of younger generations, but we can both learn a lot from each other. When people are 65, some think their life is over. But this really isn’t true – you can still discover many new places in the world and great things.’
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Ines’s ten steps to contentment
1 Tell friends how it is Complain about a problem to a pal and they listen; complain to your partner and they will try to fix it. But as women we often just need to complain – and be listened to.
2 Give bad thoughts the slip Push negativity from your mind. Don’t say: ‘All I have is problems.’ Instead say: ‘Life is giving me exciting challenges right now.’
3 Cancel all guilt trips As women we suffer endlessly from this emotion. Decide that from today you want to be happier and learn to look at life in a new way.
4 Up those small acts of kindness Look after a neighbour’s dog for a while. Tell friends you love them.
5 Be happy for others – celebrate their successes and talents.
6 Never feel ashamed when things go wrong – no one is the winner all the time.
7 Praise your other half
Instead of criticising your partner, as we all do and is destructive, talk to them about their qualities and why you love them. Just because you live with them doesn’t mean they don’t need it. We are often kinder to strangers.
8 Do ask for help – nicely We often feel tired then start screaming or get angry about tiny things such as unwashed dishes. Instead, ask yourself: is it worth getting cross about? If the answer is no, find a better way to say it.
9 Make that date Our work and home life tend to get put ahead of our relationship but spending quality time together is vital. So meet for lunch, go to the movies – take time to take care of your relationship.
10 Hold the joggers! We often dress up in the office but not at home. It’s strange because we are with the people we love the most yet look our worst.
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