Ines de la Fressange has been a model, muse, designer, fashion consultant and even the face of France, chosen in 1989 as the model for Marianne, the country’s feminine symbol. She published the autobiographical Profession Mannequin in 2002, and now she’s come out with a lively new style guide just launched in the US in April—Parisian Chic.

Fressange is uniquely qualified to write this book—with her unconventional beauty and strong sense of personal style, she’s the quintessential Parisienne, still gorgeous at 53. And in Parisian Chic, she shares many of the secrets she’s accumulated throughout her decades spent in the Paris fashion world.

In the book’s first section, Dress Like a Parisian, she lists her “Magnificent Seven” wardrobe basics: a man’s blazer, trench coat, navy sweater, tank top, little black dress, jeans and leather jacket. She also suggests affordable shopping alternatives—including Monoprix and Gap—for those of us whose budgets don’t run to a Burberry trench or YSL tuxedo jacket. The beauty who’s photographed wearing these basics is not the author, but her lovely 17-year-old daughter, Nine d’Urso. (A budding style icon in her own right, d’Urso was recently chosen as the international face of Bottega Veneta’s inaugural fragrance, which will debut in September.) The book is also illustrated with Fressange’s wonderfully wacky drawings.

In a section entitled Belle of the Ball, the author shares beauty and makeup tips: “Wear makeup every day, even on weekends. Your family wants to see you at your best, too.” In Chez Moi she discusses home decor (“I have no problem placing an IKEA sofa alongside ‘60s designer lamps and a repainted bookshelf from the Marché aux Puces.” And in Ines’s Paris she gives a roundup of her favorite addresses, including offbeat museums, favorite shops, salons and spas, restaurants, cafés and hotels. Her tempting capsule reviews are guaranteed to lengthen the “next trip” list of any frequent Paris traveler.

Fressange is generous with her “don’ts”. Shoes? “Nothing looks worse than a girl tottering about on unmanageable heels! So she wants to look sexy? The key to sex appeal is a feline walk, not a precarious wobble.” Jewelry?  “Never wear a necklace and earrings at the same time—too much!” Dressing children? “Avoid mixing too many loud prints. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean you should dress them like clowns.”

And her do’s are just as much fun to read: “Stepping boldly into boutiques that don’t appear to be for you—the essence of Parisian style!” Or “Be passionate about a man, a project, a house. It’s an instant facelift.”

Perhaps the book’s greatest appeal lies in the author’s attitude—she refuses to take fashion too seriously and believes it should be lighthearted and fun. Her charm, wit and freewheeling spirit shine through on every page of this endearing book. Who could resist a style guru who advises you to “get dressed listening to Dead Flowers by the Rolling Stones”?

Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, Flammarion, 2011.  (With Sophie Gachet. Originally published in French as La Parisienne)

 

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