In this Exclusive Interview, the Fashionable Icon Speaks to BAZAAR About Her SS21 Collection for UNIQLO.
Inspired by her trips to the French seaside resort of Deauville, fashionable icon Ines De La Fressange speaks to BAZAAR about her latest collaboration with UNIQLO. The UNIQLO x Ines De La Fressange SS21 collection, embraces both Ines’ and UNIQLO’s philosophy of creating innovative, high quality clothing that is comfortable and stylish. Comprising of elegant essentials for the everyday, the collection includes UV-blocking hats, cotton shirts and feminine dresses that are perfect for summer days.
You’ve been in the industry for so long, how has it changed from when you first started your career?
Maybe it’s become even more of an industry! (laughs) however, the main idea is always the same: women are looking for items that would bring them joy and help them feel more confident.
What is your most memorable collection for Uniqlo?
I rather remember items than a collection. Firstly, because I still have some clothes from previous collections that I still love. For instance, very light cotton jackets in pale blue and white or rain khaki and navy rain coats. I can’t tell you exactly which year or collection they are from, but they are still great! Also, I am not nostalgic, rather, I always have new desires!
Tell us about the UNIQLO x Ines De La Fressange Spring/Summer ’21 collection in your own words.
Today women wish to gain self-confidence, but at the same time maintain softness and give an impression of serenity. With this latest collection I wanted to help them show themselves at their best, starting by feeling good about themselves. Everything should fall nicely, to give the notion that all is easy. No useless details, but soft fabrics, light cottons and a general atmosphere that is very fresh.
Why did you choose “ Trip to Deauville” as a theme for this new collection?
I love the fact that France is a small country, but with many different landscapes. The northwest region, for example, is very different from the southeast, even the sea is not the same (laughs). Deauville is very close to Paris, so it’ s possible to spend just a weekend there. And it’ s fun to be so quickly in such a different atmosphere. Deauville is a place that I know since I was a tiny child, and I wanted for my friend Naoki Takizawa to be able to discover it. Sadly enough, he couldn’t come to Europe this time, but at least we sent pictures taken there because I thought the new and quite elegant collection would fit perfectly to this city, which was known to have many elegance competitions in the 20th century.
What are your favourite top three items in the collection? And tell us your reason and recommended styling for each.
The first is the Trench Coat, because you can effortlessly make it part of a great look. To wear it well, I advise against using the belt in a conventional way. Tighten it like a ribbon, almost as if the buckle were broken. It works wonderfully with everything! Then there’ s the pants and jacket look. Sometimes you can express your own style with just a few items. A good example is a beautifully cut dress made from a first-rate fabric. This light suit and light cotton shirt make a perfect summer outfit! I like the unbleached jacket and navy pants. I love all these items because they are comfortable, elegant, and minimalist. I would say that my favourite style combination is blue and white. And don’ t forget this: great style comes from comfortable clothing.
What about shirts and 3D sweaters in the collection, how would you recommend wearing them?
Sometimes a simple sweater or just a shirt with pants is enough but dare to try a larger size than the one you are used to wearing, or at the opposite one that fits tighter. You know, fashion is also about proportions.
Which items do you recommend for travel and why?
For summer, I love these very light suits, which are like shirts and very nice to wear when it’ s very warm. And I love the white rain coat, at least when it’ s rainy it brings some light! (laughs)
How do you view the collection in the current difficult times of the pandemic?
Today I think people wish to go for essentials. It seems we have all had time to think about our priorities, and even for our wardrobe we don’ t wish a lot but the right things. Some items that reflect more our way to see life and that reveal our best side. No cheating, no useless things, but a healthier life; the desire to accept a new decade with changes while keeping serenity and optimism.
And now a very straightforward question (laughs): how is your working relationship with UNIQLO?
There is mutual trust, it’ s a happy wedding. We have had a lot of success together with many collections. And yet each time we are confident enough to take small risks, because there is also the involvement of our customers. The idea is always to keep in mind the general philosophy of UNIQLO and respect it, but with a witty and playful attitude that tries to move the boundaries a little to be able to bring something more. But fashion is just like any other work: everything depends on the people and I must say that nothing would be possible for me without Naoki Takizawa.
Your design philosophy is based on finding solutions for women who want to look elegant without the fuss and ensuring that they feel amazing in your clothes. Do you think UNIQLO shares the same sentiments and why is this important for any collaboration?
Indeed! I want to help women gain self-confidence and feel in full bloom. What I expect is that people will tell them “you look great” rather than “I love your jacket!”, but it can be both! (laughs). What is important in a collaboration is to see what each party can bring to the table and mix it with respect, trust and happiness. But for work in general, everything depends on people. I am lucky to work with Naoki Takizawa who is like my Japanese brother and we do agree a lot about everything. Also, working with honesty and sincerity is essential. Ah, ah, I am giving you the recipe!
What are your thoughts on sustainability and how can brands as well as designers address this issue? Is the industry doing enough?
I think the younger generation, in particular, don’t want to be in an ultra-consumerist civilisation. They want to preserve the planet and also, they might not have the space or the financial capacity to spend unnecessarily. Our mindset and attitude towards things are constantly changing and although fashion is always avant-garde, there is an increasing amount of natural fabrics like cotton, wool and linen that are incorporated into designs – the industry is always adapting to reflect the current zeitgeist.
Finally, a message from you to all women who enjoy fashion.
Yes, of course. A new outfit won’ t change your life, but it can bring a moment of happiness and give to others a better idea of your thoughts, so the mix of both can be transformed into new opportunities. Don’ t feel guilty looking more beautiful. Maybe it will help you to see better how beautiful the world is too. Dare to be what you dream to be, I am here to help you, it’ s not that difficult! You are unique. UNIQLO and me can prove it to you.
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All images courtesy of UNIQLO.