Inès de la Fressange: A gorgeous French masterpiece

Inès de la Fressange, the 51-year-old mother of two; 1980s model and former face of Chanel; sometimes designer; spokesperson for handbag brand Roger Vivier; a woman honored as Marianne; and recipient of the French Légion d’honneur recently took two turns down Jean Paul Gaultier’s haute couture runway Gaultier’s runway.

French model Ines de la Fressange presents a creation by Jean Paul Gaultier for his Spring/Summer 2009 haute couture collection.The Wall Street Journal called Inès de la Fressange “voluptuous”, suggesting that the rest of us might just as well retire from being seen on the street.

In France, women are allowed to age gracefully. Botox and fillers are not necessary, which is not to suggest that women don’t use them.

Inès is not obsessed with looking younger, a believable fact when you consider that Dove’s Global Beauty Study validated that French women believe they “peak” at 45, versus American women saying they “peak” at 25.

Please note that these answers were given by women, and not by men evaluating women.

With the American growing obsession with beauty treatments for tweens and younger, we can expect that tomorrow’s American women will believe they are “washed up” at 18.

Sad but true.

Vive la France on this topic.

Last summer, the London Times interviewed de la Fressange prior to her receiving her Légion d’honneur. Writer Lisa Armstrong also commented that this stunning woman is wearing her age in a way that seems possible only in France.

(Actually, in the Dove study, both Italian and Brazilian women also answered that they peak around 35-45, and in equal numbers. It’s the American women who believe we’re in the trash can, on the subject of beautiful, sensual aging. American women say that after 28, it’s all down hill. How sad.)

When complimented about not trying to look 30, madame responded to the London Times:

“Thirty? A lot of women stick with that because it was their favourite age for some reason. I don’t really think like that. I mean, when a man tells you you look good, it’s not because you don’t have any wrinkles.”

In spite of the absurd use of the word “voluptuous” to describe Inès de la Fressange, writer Armstrong reminds us that there is far less of her to go “south/downhill/wrong”. Not true, quips this French icon, offering up the fact that she can’t wear short shorts anymore.

Madame de la Fressange offers stylist women good advice about how to dress, stressing that “going classic” is very nearly the kiss of youthful death.

“You have to mix genres now: if you are wearing an army-surplus coat, put it with ballet shoes, not heavy boots. If you are in diamonds, then play them down with a matelot top. Oh, and never wear fur.”

Less we believe that de la Fresange is making a PETA pitch, writer Lisa Armstrong suggests that fur is aging and too bourgeois for this French top model.

Whatever her secret, we American women must take a lesson from Inès de la Fressange on aging with confidence. No one will cure this problem for American women but ourselves.

You are reading about one woman who embraces the wrinkles in the mirror, as a badge of beauty and sophistication, not something to be erased. You see, a French woman doesn’t fear showing the world that she has wisdom and experience under her belt … and perhaps, even under her silk knickers.

There’s a reason why French women spend 20-25% of their apparel dollars on lingerie. Now . .. if you want to talk about how to stay young …

Love, Anne

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