De La Fressange returns to the catwalk at 51

Former muse of Karl Lagerfeld, Ines de la Fressange has been walking the red carpet for Jean-Paul Gaultier.

InesdelaFressangeInes de la Fressange – former ‘muse’ of Karl Lagerfeld – returned to the catwalk for Paris fashion week, at the age of 51.

Way to go.

I always loved de la Fressange’s look. If I were to look in my scrapbooks from the 1980s, I know she’ll be there, and I can even see one of the outfits in my mind’s eye – a red, assymmetric satin dress for Chanel with a long rhinestone strap. 

She was always a perfect French beauty, and she remains one – doesn’t exercise, doesn’t believe in plastic surgery, doesn’t have Botox, just allows herself to grow older gracefully, stays thin and gets on with her life. She admitted in a Time interview that she’d been to a beauty salon last July and loved it but had kind of forgotten to go back. Like many French women, her beauty and elegance just appear thrown together.

It helps if you’re drop-dead gorgeous to start with, of course, but this is such a French attitude – she probably learned 30 years ago what suited her and has stuck with it ever since. You can bet that her wardrobe is full of tailored separates, mostly black; cashmere knitwear; well-cut jeans, jackets that hit her exactly where it’s most flattering.

Fressange2Gaultier, who has a reputation for working with unusual models – the outsize, older and tattooed among them – sent her down the runway in two outfits, both black. My favourite was the long tuxedo dress, which is beautiful. I’d never thought of a tuxedo jacket with a skirt, but it looks great – and useful too. So excited was he by her reception that he ran down the runway in theatrical fashion afterwards and bear-hugged her. 

As for the rest of the show, it was – as with other collections this year – monochrome. Where the Chanel show was white, Gaultier was black, mixed with large quantities of grey. Clearly fashion is getting serious for 2009, but there was also lots of gorgeous texture, corsetry and – more than anything else – transparency, as seen in this organza dress.  

Gaultier dressTransparency is a useful trick for those of us over 40, of course, so I always welcome its reappearance. A chiffon-sleeved blouse or organza cardigan can hide a multitude of bingo wings while introducing a bit of sex into an outfit.

But as for me, from the whole collection I’d give my eye teeth for that tuxedo dress. And somewhere to wear it, of course!

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