By the time you read this, many of the most irresistible items in Inès de la Fressange’s first-ever women’s wear collection for Uniqlo — making its debut a few weeks ago both in stores and online — will already be sold out. But don’t give up: Inventory will be replenished before too long. And there are good reasons the stuff is selling so fast. De la Fressange, a 56-year-old model and French style icon, believes in no-nonsense chic. Aristocratic yet unpretentious (“just call me Inès”), she favors classic clothes with just the right contemporary twist. She never gives in to trends or tries to look like she’s 25. The new collection reflects her personal style, which is often stunning in its simplicity.
“I don’t like this fashion that’s too unaffordable or too snobbish or too outside reality,” explains the designer (and author of “Parisian Chic”) in a behind-the-scenes video. As an antidote to overpriced luxury, her Uniqlo label offers easily wearable shirts for as little as $29.90, dresses for about $50, even a coat for $129.90.
Not that shopping is ever foolproof. It would be hard to go wrong with her shirts and jackets (notably the IDLF Coverall Jacket), which stand out as wardrobe essentials — as do some individual pieces, like the IDLF Soutien Collar Coat. But the drawstring pants could make you look heavy if you’re not tall and thin like de la Fressange. The cotton lawn dresses (inspired by a young Sophia Loren) also may be tricky. To avoid looking prim, you might wear one with a gutsy leather belt and a cool pair of booties. Still, the collection as a whole adheres nicely to the designer’s no-bullshit credo, as the customers lining up at Uniqlo stores and rushing to the retailer’s website will attest. —Lola Ehrlich and John Birmingham