Talking exclusively to French designer Anne Fontaine, we discover the craftsmanship behind the iconic white shirt, re-embroidered lace and the foundations of the feminine universal design encompassing their Maison de Couture.
What inspired the classic white shirt that is a staple of your brand?
I wanted this piece, which usually belongs to the masculine wardrobe, to become an essential for women! White shirts have a timeless elegance; it’s an item that every woman can play with to create her own identity and express her own creativity. “Nothing is more sexy than a woman in a white shirt.”
You have created a unique range of designs with ample amounts of versatility in every piece. What is your favourite from the Fall/Winter 2015 collection?
Regence from my Fall/Winter 2015 collection is my current favourite. It's a Victorian-style blouse with an elaborate yoke in re-embroidered lace that subtly reveals the top and arms.
What has made you so passionate for design? Is there a crucial moment in your life that inspired ‘The White Shirt’?
In fact, the story of Anne Fontaine is a love story. It is how the encounter with my husband has permitted us to create our Maison de Couture. When we met, he was already in the fashion industry.
I felt I wanted to give the garments a second life and change the French savoir-faire (knowledge). I had the idea to create the woman's white shirt! We opened the doors to our first store on Rue des Saints-Pères in Paris.
I am currently in charge of style, design and garment creation. My husband takes part in the brand development and marketing side. Today, Anne Fontaine has 80 stores worldwide, 450 multi-brand clients, and a subsidiary in both the USA and China.
From beginning to end, what is your favourite moment in the creation process?
I am always excited to launch a new collection. I really do like all the steps of the creation process although my favourite one is when I'm working with fabric and drape it on the model or myself. It can be said that it is the specific moment the design comes to life.
What trends are being enhanced this season?
Inspired by the Victorian epoch, I wanted to emphasise turtleneck collars adorned with delicate embroidery and trim, velvet, jacquard and arabesque patterns.
For this Fall/Winter 2015 collection I've played the androgynous card through timeless, resolutely modern masculine–feminine looks such as: ties, braces, cummerbunds, hound's tooth, herringbone, leather yokes and shirt dresses in dyed yarn.
Next to nature, what is your biggest inspiration? Where did you get your ideas from the trend outfit for this season?
I’m inspired by life! All the things that are around me are a source of inspiration – objects, people, art… everything! I am also inspired by strong cinematic film icons like Scarlett O’Hara, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo…
It seems that you are very devoted to nature, how do you foresee the future of our environment?
When I was younger I was always committed to my country's environmental cause. That's why I created the Anne Fontaine Foundation in 2011. The aim of the Anne Fontaine Foundation is to contribute to the reforestation and protection of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest – the Mata Atlântica – by raising awareness of environmental issues through art and fashion.
The Foundation wants to educate the public by organising artistic events in different schools involving sculptors, painters and photographers. The foundation works and supports programmes of reforestation implemented by local NGOs.
I would like my three girls to be able to know this forest and to respect others while respecting nature and themselves. Future generations are the key to sustainability on Earth.