I had noticed a fabulous looking picture of Inès de la Fressange in a black wrap dress. It was unsurprising that she looked amazing, but what surprising was that this dress was part of her collection for Uniqlo, the Japanese fashion retailer known more for mass production of inexpensive fashion. I’ve bought a few things there over the years; some have worked out better than others.
In her wildly successful book La Parisienne (lah pair-e-zee-n) (Parisian Chic in English), de la Fressange advocated a mix of low- and high-priced fashion. She suggested key pieces to create that classic French look. Her “Magnificent Seven” list of what to wear includes a man’s blazer, a trench coat, a navy sweater, a tank top, a little black dress, jeans and a leather jacket. Most of those pieces, plus several other suitably chic options are in the collection (not the leather jacket). In her book, she even recommended the brand. Uniqlo’s president, Tadashi Yanai, got wind of the compliment and the idea for a collaboration was born.
The collection is part of Uniqlo’s LifeWear concept. Naoki Takizawa, Uniqlo’s creative director, designed the seventy-piece collection in conjunction with de la Fressange. He flew to Paris to meet with her. She pulled her wardrobe out of her closet and the two planned the essential pieces. Each piece has a touch of red thread incorporated somewhere as a reference to her Légion d’Honneur, received in 2008. De la Fressange apparently always forgets to wear hers.
I checked the collection out this weekend at a Uniqlo in New York. I was impressed. There is plenty of style for a small price tag. The collection is a mix of masculine shirts in lovely-quality cotton, some easy tailoring, slim khakis, great jeans, flower-sprigged blouses, and 1940s-inspired shirt dresses. What the collection does not have are shoes. I guess de la Fressange is going to keep getting those from Roger Vivier. (You could buy all seventy Uniqlo pieces for the price of one pair of Roger Vivier shoes.) And that would be exactly what she advocates, in fact, a mix of high and low. Très chic.
All photos by Uniqlo