What It’s Really Like To… Be A Style Icon

In a nutshell, my job involves… being a busy mum and businesswoman, designing fashion collections, modelling, travelling and working with some incredible brands.

When I was a child I wanted to be… many different things, from a lawyer to a child psychiatrist. Then I met various people who inspired me and helped to develop my creativity and imagination.

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I got into this industry by… going to countless castings and working hard to get my name out there. I began modelling in the 1970s when I was 17 – those were the days when I was always on a plane and pretty much lived out of a suitcase. I worked extremely hard before finally getting my big break in 1975, when I did a shoot with Oliviero Toscani, and the rest is history. A few years later, I became the first model to sign an exclusive contract with Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, which was incredible. I’ll never forget the moment when Karl pulled me to one side and suggested I design my own fashion collection, so I did and ran with it.

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I love what I do because… I get to be myself; honestly, there is nothing more empowering. I also travel around the world for work a lot, which means I’m lucky enough to experience a range of luxury hotels, go to the latest hotspots and meet new and interesting people.

The best part of my day is… being creative and designing pieces or collaborating with brands that aim to make women feel better about themselves. I spend a lot of time thinking about trends and what women want or need, so I jumped at a recent opportunity to work with MGallery by Sofitel, a collection of luxury boutique hotels, on its new campaign ‘Inspired by Her’, which is designed by women for women.

The hardest part of my day is… leaving my children for a work trip. Nevertheless, I feel it’s important they see a strong, positive female role model who has worked hard throughout her career – hopefully that will inspire them to do it themselves.

The aspect of my job that always surprises people is… how many early starts and late nights I have. It’s great having the luxury of travelling all the time; however, being fully prepared for any circumstance is sometimes difficult, especially when you are juggling lots of different things at the same time.

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The three skills that help me succeed are… confidence, perseverance and enthusiasm.

The biggest change in my industry at the moment is… the fact that women are becoming more than just a face or a body. Now they have voices, thoughts and opinions that are being listened to more and more. In a year that sees us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement, there is so much positive focus on the female agenda, which is great and will continue to make a difference, not just in my industry but all industries.

My role model is… Francine Leca, the founder of the Cardiac Surgery Association, who saves children’s lives and still finds time to laugh with her friends.

The one thing I wish I’d known when I started out is… the power of your own voice. It’s important to speak up, as your opinion and feelings matter and should be listened to.

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Anyone wanting to do my job should begin by… finding out what your individual strengths are and then building upon these to create something special and unique. Try to have a plan and always continue to work on yourself to develop and evolve, whether as an individual, a businesswoman or as a brand.

In 10 years’ time, I’d like to be… content. I’d like to feel I have achieved what I set out to do and that I’ve encouraged my kids to work in something that inspires them, so that they can blossom. I also hope to be a grandmother, to remain interested in discovering and exploring new things, and above all to have no regrets.

Ines de la Fressange is global ambassador for Inspired by Her, a tailored programme for female guests from MGallery by Sofitel, a collection of luxury, boutique hotels across the world. To find out more, visit www.sofitel.com or @mgalleryhotels.

From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK