Accompanying the everyday style of the loyal Frenchwoman, Julia Roberts wears Zendaya, collection after collection. Anne Fontaine is the white blouse erected on a pedestal with an innate ability to renew itself. Before her, no one had considered this room as a universe in itself. Meet the most French-Brazilian designers.
It was difficult that the successful brand Anne Fontaine was born …
Ann Fontaine : At first, I was not involved in my husband’s family’s business of making men’s shirts. When the company began to experience difficulties, I began to think about reviving it. There was real craftsmanship to maintain. By chance, I was in our attic and came across some scraps of fabric. She got a tap to develop a line of white blouses that are exclusively for women, an audience we haven’t talked about.
All around, we had a huge selection of dresses, skirts, jumpsuits… Finally, nothing was done on the blouse side. It was a daring challenge but worth a try. The Anne Fontaine brand was born.
Contrary to all expectations, success was immediate in Japan and the United States. In France, I was against the trend. However, I wanted to make it an essential part of the French women’s wardrobe. My mom is Brazilian and my dad is French-German; At the age of twenty, I came to settle in Paris, following in the footsteps of my origins. So I wanted to conquer this audience.
Today, your customers are global. From market to market, what appeals to your community?
The white shirt has a special meaning from one country to another. In the United States, it should be a symbol of success. A professional woman often wears this garment with a suit, jeans … Otherwise, everywhere the white blouse is one of the analogues of the famous black dress.
Thirty years later, how do you reinterpret it?
This is a question that was asked pretty quickly early in my career. Journalists were curious to see how I could release collections, summer and winter, on the same theme. I think there is no limit to my imagination, especially when I listen to bossa nova (laughs)! I love touching textures, breathing fabrics, and creating personalized pieces that match my clients’ personality. As a child, I already loved to grab clothes to change into. When I was 10 years old, my mother bought me a dress for my cousin’s wedding … It was terrible (laughs)! I decided to rework the sly by modifying its cut. I thought I would take my mother’s wrath, but it was just the opposite: I was amazed!
Aside from the material, it is great to be able to play with accessories such as cufflinks and necklaces that add fantasy and elegance to the outfit. Elsewhere, we first choose our outfit before completing the look with a blouse, at home, it’s the exact opposite! It’s the starting point for any silhouette. My self-knowledge allows me to explore this universe with the same passion. I didn’t go to design and design school, which leaves a lot of room for my creativity and spontaneity.
Also, one of my best decisions is to make my main residence in a country house in Honfleur in Calvados! Every day, I measure my luck to be able to live in touch with nature, to feed on it and not get sucked into the hustle and bustle of cities. Undoubtedly, this bubble helped stimulate my imagination and provided the perfect place to juggle my private and professional lives.
Is this physical bond with nature your Brazilian roots?
I have always been sensitive to respect for biodiversity, so I studied biology. Not even at the age of twenty, I made a radical decision to leave to live in the Amazon with the Indians! Brazil is a vast region, you can very quickly isolate yourself from this green lung by staying in the comfort of the big cities. I took a year off and imposed my resolution on my relatives who were afraid of seeing me and set off to explore this hostile region, not because of its inhabitants but because of its difficult living conditions.
However, I had to make this return to the sources. There, experiencing what I call “the cinema of the wonder,” I discovered a metallic image of exquisite beauty that is as enchanting as it is instructive. The power of plants, the knowledge of the Amazon Indians… They fed me with it. How happy!
Too late, however, I became aware of my mother’s plight when I announced such a decision to her… Being now a mother of three daughters, I should be displeased if one of them would ask me to go and discover a hostile and dangerous place. The Amazon, as you know, is a place that gives rise to many desires for the unscrupulous.
Anne Fontaine: I wanted to take women’s wardrobes into their everyday lives. It’s not just for a business meeting or event that you want to be prepared for, you might want to go all out on Sunday just to get a baguette! It’s the magic of being a woman ! »
We better understand this ability to meet challenges!
In fact, it is all about passion, convictions and hard work. When I offered to help my husband restore his family’s business, I was convinced it was necessary to defend knowledge. I had a vision of speaking to women and proving that there is a whole world to develop. I like what I do, and I like to please and make the women of Anne Fontaine happy. A woman who feels comfortable in her clothes will be more confident and radiant! There I tell myself I succeeded, especially if the dress joins his timeless gown. “Timeless” is a real sign.
Since then, the white virgin blouse has been embodied in color and other clothing and accessories: jeans, capes, dresses, jumpsuits, bags, shoes, jewelry… did it come naturally?
I wanted to support women in their daily lives according to their mood. It’s not just for a business meeting or event that you want to dress up for, you might want to pull out all the stops on Sunday just to grab a baguette! This is the magic of being a woman! In addition, I had to design stylish and comfortable clothes by thinking through the smallest details. As a woman and a fashion designer, I totally understand the need to juggle both sides. My male peers will not necessarily incorporate this freedom of movement.
When you’re not creating in your studio in Honfleur, what do you do?
I dedicate myself to my Anne Fontaine Foundation, which aims to work for the preservation of nature, in particular by planting trees. Raising awareness among the younger ones is also important, which is why I go to schools to highlight so many issues. I also support many charitable initiatives, I was recently in Singapore at a charity gala for Prince Albert II of Monaco.
I Fontaine, in three words?
The joy of living, love. In short, the joy of love!
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