People have long marveled at the individuality and nonchalant elegance of French women. Their flair and spirit of adventurousness result in an off-beat chic with biting wit.
“Red underwear is the best color to wear under a white dress,” madame Isabelle Garachon, wife of the French ambassador Gilles, told Inquirer Lifestyle, at the press presentation of the French franchises of fashion retailer Vogue Concepts. A former professional dancer and model for Christine Laure prêt-a-porter and another French lingerie brand, Garachon made a lively resource person.
The 51-year-old diplomatic spouse doesn’t look her age. “I don’t even feel old,” she said.
Garachon cited a number of French celebrities whom she admired for being comfortable with how they look. Seventy-one-year-old actress and former Yves Saint Laurent muse Catherine Deneuve is still touted as one of the best-dressed women over 50. Then there’s Chanel muse-turned-designer and perfumer Ines dela Fressange, 57, who exudes a sunny personality. “She smiled a lot on the catwalk not like the other models,” said Garachon.
Like Dela Fressange, Garachon takes to the masculine/feminine look, which is very French. For a dinner, Garachon once wore a long pink skirt with a tailored vest and a flower to offset the tailored look.
Personalizing is part of the French flair. “It takes time to experiment. You need to try it out before you can be sure it works,” she said. The French have been proponents of integrating disparate styles such as affordable fashion and luxury, casual and formal. “You don’t have to be formal from head to foot. Some mix a dressy jacket with blue jeans and high heels. It looks elegant,” she said.
A Frenchwoman’s wardrobe will always have a little black dress or skirt which epitomizes sexiness and sophistication, the versatile tank shirt and the all-season, pair of perfect-fitting jeans.
High heels are a must. Garachon expressed her disdain for platforms. “They are too clunky and chunky and ruin the symmetry of the leg,” she said. Sexy heels flatter the silhouette of the calf. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt if it’s a pair of Christian Louboutins which flash a red sole for effect.
As a former dancer, she likes Repetto, the French brand of dance shoes and clothing that is famous for its flats.
Update with accessories
Accessories can transform a look, but must be kept minimal. In the places where the Garachons have been posted, she has always found something to spruce up a basic outfit. Her
memento from the Philippines is a carabao horn necklace which would look nice with a white dress. Garachon added that among the local designers, she favors Lulu Tan Gan for her effortless fashion.
Less is more is another aesthetic. For a day-to-night dressing Garachon wears a white shirt with a black skirt and high heels. “Don’t pile on too many things. If there’s too much going on, there’s no focus,” she said.
Ditto with makeup. A makeup artist advised her to balance dramatic eye makeup with a neutral lip color or vice versa, but never both. “Keep the makeup subtle and the dress simple. To be chic is to be simple,” she said.
Lastly, Garachon underscored the importance of age-appropriate clothing.
“A woman should never try to dress up like her teenage daughter,” she said.
Still, Garachon is brave enough to have fun with her bold hair color, done by compatriot hairdresser Laurent Hebert. Using the French brand L’Oreal, he combined light brown and dark blond with red copper.
In all, a stylish woman is never bland because she brims with panache, never adhering to convention.
During the press launch, Vogue Concepts showed how its brands could channel the French style.
Its flagship brand, Promod, carries styles that flatter the figure through their soft fall or precise tailoring. The iconic boatneck shirt with navy Breton stripes was one of the classic pieces presented.
Louella Scott, Vogue Concepts’ general manager, said that the Philippines is always on the top 10 Asian markets for the brand.
The youth-oriented Jennyfer takes its inspiration from street fashion. Scott said that although it’s competitively priced with other famous high-street labels, this French brand offers quality. “After several washings, the clothes are still wearable,” she said. “The youth tend to shop more when they are with their parents.”
Etam lingerie has been attracting a market because of its fit. “The customers keep coming back because of the fit and the quality is different,” she said.
Vogue Concepts recently acquired the franchise for Minelli footwear. Made of genuine leather, the products are made in Italy and Spain and are priced between P3,000 to P7,000 a pair.
To cap a woman’s look, Vogue Concepts has Yves Rocher, a certified organic and plant-based skincare and fragrance brand. Its top-selling products are the Elixir 7.9 Youth Intensifier Serum for mature skin and Pure System Stop Blemish Lotion.
The Elixir 7.9 contains seven plants plus nine anti-aging plants that double the rejuvenating effect. It has been getting positive reviews from customers. Pure System combats zits and blackheads and boosts skin radiance.
Etam is available in SM Aura Premier and Ayala Center Cebu; Minelli is available in SM Aura Premier and SM Megamall; Jennyfer is available in SM North Edsa. Promod is available in Bonifacio High Street, Gateway Mall, Greenbelt 5, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Place Ermita, SM Aura Premier, Centrio Mall Cagayan de Oro, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Northwing Cebu, Abreeza Mall Davao, SM Lanang Premier; Yves Rocher is available in SM Aura Premier, Trinoma, SM Southmall, Ayala Center Cebu.