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“Life is never what it seems – and that’s the great thing about it.” — Inès de la Fressange
Inès Marie Laetitia Eglantine Isabelle de Seignard de la Fressange was born near St. Tropez, to an aristocratic family where silver spoons came by the dozen. “I went to a boys school — I was the only girl! Very strange at that time — perhaps more usual in England or the USA. I really enjoyed it, especially playing football!”
Later, post-school, Inès de la Fressange became an international supermodel and Karl Lagerfeld’s muse. She was elected the new face of “Marianne,” the symbol of the French Republic, by the Association of Mayors of France in 1989. And her statue sits proudly in the Musée Grevin. In June 2008, she was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French Government.
The mother of two daughters, Nine and Violette, she says, “It’s not necessary to be born in Paris to have le style de la Parisienne. I’m the best example; I was born in St. Tropez! It’s all about attitude. Parisian women are a mix of Bardot and de Beauvoir, they follow the codes, but break them as well!”
What does Paris mean to you?
Many different villages that make a great city.
You live – left bank or right bank ?
Strangely enough both! (laughs) Actually I am now right bank in a gorgeous street that I love in the 9th district but there is work in progress on a new flat in Montparnasse.
Your favorite Paris ‘hood?
Depends for what! But 9th and “Les Abbesses” is a delightful place to live. I especially like la rue des Martyrs with all the food shops.
Four Parisians, past or present, you’d invite to a dinner party?
Let’s enjoy people alive! So I would say:
Elie Top: the former assistant to Yves Saint-Laurent is today’s most gifted young jeweler.
Jean-Baptiste Sécheret, the French painter, my favorite.
Zana Murat, a great cook who has written many books. Maybe I would ask her to make the dinner! laughs)
Alexia Silvagni, a great photographer.
The one thing every Parisian should own?
Good sneakers to walk (a nice way to discover many things you don’t see with a car) and Jacques Hillairet’s essential book: It describes each street, who lived there, what was there before, plus there are many vintage pictures and engravings.
You can’t live without?
Gardens. I love le Jardin du Luxembourg and les Jardins du Palais Royal.
Favorite place for lunch in Paris?
Au bon Saint-Pourçain. 10 bis rue Servandoni, 6th. Soooo French!
Best address for a flute of champagne in Paris?
I don’t really like champagne but I love many things at The Ritz, even a glass of water!
The last item of clothing you bought?
Actually the last item came from my shop (Inès de la Fressange, 24 rue de Grenelle, 7th). A beautiful fluo pink sweater but I didn’t really “buy” it, so, let’s say it was great pants from 45R (1, rue d’Alger, 1st). I love this brand.
Where do you buy groceries?
Rue des Martyrs. There is the best cheese shop, Quatrehomme, and the best butcher, Thielen. And it’s the most fun for me to buy flowers. I adore Thalie Fleurs (223 rue Saint-Jacques, place Monge, 5th).
A fun thing to do in Paris?
What’s the “touristy” thing you’d secretly love to do in Paris, but haven’t?
I never went to Le Moulin Rouge!
Best “Life Lesson” you learned?
Don’t worry be happy. It could be a song (laughs)
Three words to live by?
One thing you would change in the world?
Teach philosophy to small children at school.
One thing you wish Parisians would stop moaning about?
Traffic! People should just plan the time they need – or walk!
The Museum of Innocence by Ohran Pamuk
Favorite movie of all time?
Le Festin de Babette
Favorite city to visit (outside Paris)
Arles: you can’t be disappointed…
Is there an annual event, festival, gala, or exhibition that you look forward to each year?
In June the Flea market on place Saint-Sulpice and especially Alicia de Rolland’s stand.
You only have €25 left – how do you want to spend it?
I buy a bottle of Porto (Graham’s), some chorizo, saucisson, a few flowers, and invite a friend!
Visit Inès de la Fressange’s website here.
Lead photo credit : Ines de la Fressange, courtesy of Margaret Kemp