When it comes to French style icons, Inès de la Fressange just might have the most thrilling story of all. She rose to notoriety in the ’80s, when she reportedly became the first model signed exclusively to Chanel. Following years of twirling down the brand’s runway, clad in tweedy suits and strands of pearls, de la Fressange had a rather public falling out with Karl Lagerfeld in 1989.
“I wish her all the luck in the world, just so long as I don’t have to see her any more or hear her spoken about,” the Chanel designer famously said about his former muse. Their tussle reportedly began when de la Fressange willing allowed her likeness to be translated into a bust of Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic.
The fashionable duo have since reconciled their relationship, in quite a public (and press friendly) manner. Not only did Lagerfeld invite de la Fressange to walk in a 2011 Chanel show, but he also cast his longtime muse in an ad campaign that same year, according to WWD. But this delightfully glamorous drama isn’t the only reason why de la Fressange’s name has littered the headlines for almost three decades.
She’s a brand ambassador for the shoe brand Roger Vivier and a face of L’Oréal Paris; she’s collaborated with Uniqlo on a range of rather Parisian threads; she’s penned a series of guide books on how to dress, travel and plan in a “Parisian Chic” manner; and she even runs an eponymous boutique in Paris’ 7th arrondissement. Her accomplishments don’t end there, as she’s racked up collaborations with Petit Bateau and luggage brand Lipault, in addition to appearing on the cover of the August 3rd issue of ELLE France.
So, as the model celebrates her 60th birthday today, it’s an apt time to applaud her undeniably iconic style. Yes, her sartorial choices are thoroughly French (see, for example, her penchant for berets and slim cropped trousers), but she’s also proven her status as a timeless and global muse, whose feminine suits and playful shoes have become her faithful signatures. From those early days on the Chanel catwalks to her recent appearance at the front row of a recent Schiaparelli couture show, it looks like de la Fressange and her impeccable style are here to stay.
Click through the slideshow to see some of de la Fressange’s best looks through the years.