Carine Roitfeld is, by many accounts, a sexy woman. She shouldn’t be, but she is. At 60 (maybe 61), she’s a mother and a grandmother, and she is sexy. Those smoky eyes, those pencil skirts, those fishnet stockings, those teetering heels—they’re sexy too, and they are usually associated with women half Ms Roitfeld’s age, but, in her case, they aren’t. These items of clothing are what make Carine Roitfeld sexy. She knows it, so does Uniqlo.
Uniqlo X Carine Roitfeld is the Japanese fast fashion brand’s third collaboration in one season, and the third, too, with French names after Ines de la Fressange and Lemaire. To say that Uniqlo is having a French moment is rather understating it. The Tokyo-based brand, with sales of USD$13.61 billion (as of May this year), subscribes to a largely Western aesthetic and silhouette, tempered with a Japanese sensibility. Their collaboration with Mr Roitfeld allows them to go beyond their utilitarian approach with something that has sartorial heft.
Uniqlo has always broadly channelled their collaborations via two aesthetic visions: Japanese twists on European/American classics such as those by Kiminori Morishita and Jun Takahashi’s Underground, and Euro-centric minimalism such as those by Jil Sander and Lemaire. With Carine Roitfeld, they have taken what they do best and given the collection a fashion editor’s singular vision. Although Ms Roitfeld, by her own admission, is no designer, she has influenced the outcome of the collection by insisting on the finer points she feels make a garment different and stronger. As she told the WWD, ““I love the details. There are pockets everywhere, including on tight-fitting skirts. It’s a no-brainer but I love it.”
Tempting it is to compare the Carine Roitfeld collection with those by compatriot Ines de la Fressange, always described as one of France’s most beautiful women. Like Ms Roitfeld, Ms de la Fressange has a long history in fashion, but both women traipse very different sartorial paths. The two cater to clichés about what constitutes effortless Parisian style, but one is quirkiness built around an old soul with clothes you’d likely wear to the office in La Defence, the other is striking chic rooted somewhere between the 7th and 8th arrondisements.
It’s rather intriguing that women who have access to the unhurried world of haute couture would wish to put their name to a brand that embody the swiftness of fast fashion. But, as Ms Roitfeld has been saying, “I am not someone who believes that fashion should be inaccessible.” Her collection, as seen in the press preview last Friday, is, indeed, accessible and surprisingly well pulled together. Here is a capsule—40 pieces, which isn’t small—that women are very likely to love. When they appear tomorrow at Uniqlo’s Ion Orchard store, you’ll think they belong upstairs, in one of the expensive, unapproachable shops.
As out of place as they may be in a fast fashion environment, these clothes are better than anything H&M and its ilk have done… combined. Impressive are her signature pencil skirts, two-button tailored jackets and camisole dresses, all clearly have passed the most rigorous design and production processes. These are clothes you’d buy to wear till you forget where you bought them. There is a certain edge and timelessness to these separates that will not, many years down the road, bear the imprint, or remind you of a grandmother.
Of the collection, Ms Roitfeld told French Yahoo News, “J’y ai mis beaucoup de moi (I put a lot of myself).” Despite her predilection for a sexy turnout, hers is not Kardashian-sexy or Rihanna-sexy. Her sexiness is alluring due to its lack of skin. You’ll not find a single torn or illogically abbreviated garment among the separates. “It’s more sexy [to be] covered than totally naked,” she told the media. “When I see the girl with a miniskirt and a deep V, it’s too much.” Some people think her look is a bit as-you-are, a bit dishabille, a bit dirty (blame it on her hair!). But if you forget her public appearances and aim, instead, for the clothes, you might just find the French ease and elegance you have been looking for, but have yet found.
Uniqlo X Carine Roitfeld, from S$14.90, is available at Uniqlo Ion Orchard