Ines de la Fressange And Our Sad Obsession With Parisian Chic
The idea of the effortlessly chic (and often effortlessly slim) Parisian woman has at this point become a time-tested inspiration. Every year, a new book or a new diet comes out that promises to turn us average American women into croissant eating, wine drinking, exercise deploring Parisian women with the flip of a page and the flick of a cigarette. And every year, no matter how hard we try to wear nautical stripes and neutral-toned ballet flats, we’re left just as American as we were the year before. It’s a frustrating cycle — so why do we do it? Because every so often, an interview like the New York Times‘ most recent profile of Ines de le Fressange comes along, and we can’t help but dream of being just like her.
Even the Grey Lady herself falls victim to de la Fressange’s french charms. Check out how they introduce her to the reader:
Ms. de la Fressange is almost 6 feet tall, about 125 pounds and hipless. She has been the official model for Marianne, the ageless symbol of the French republic that appears on postage stamps and municipal buildings. She is wealthy and quadrilingual. She drinks wine and lots of strong espresso. She doesn’t diet. “Potatoes, chocolate, bonbons, wine, bread — I eat everything that’s good,” she said.
She is 53, but dared to pose topless for Madame Figaro magazine last year. “Photoshop helped,” she said, knowing you don’t really believe her. As for exercise, she said, “I thought about doing it once.”
And there’s more. She doesn’t bother with under-eye concealer (though she’d never dare to leave the house without makeup, not even on weekends), she wears loafers, and she smokes — though not in front of les americains, bien sûr.
So why are we (and they!) so smitten? Well, because she says things like this:
She refers to the current love of her life, Denis Olivennes, a media executive, as her “fiancé,” even though they are not engaged. “ ‘Boyfriend’ sounds so childish, ‘partner’ sounds like a business. I guess I could call him, ‘the man I often see in the bedroom in the evening.’ ”
And with that, our ever frustrating, never fulfilling francophile obsession begins anew. Ines, you’re officially on the list of People We Love.
Just for fun, we’ve included de la Fressange’s topless cover for Figaro below: