Anne Fontaine has created a fashion empire, taking the simple white shirt and making them stunning season after season. Once you put on a Fontaine design, you'll find that not one other white shirt can compare as far as design and quality craftsmanship are concerned.
Founded 10 years ago with her husband and partner Ari Zlotkin, the company (now worth 60 million) has 70 stores worldwide in the biggest cities such as Paris, Tokyo, London, San Francisco and of course Chicago's very own Flagship store located on Michigan Ave.
We caught up with Anne before she jets to Chicago from France (for her personal appearance and private party on April 21st) to discuss the simplicity of fashion, tips for women entrepreneurs and what her first passion was...and it wasn't the fashion business. Although, we couldn't be more stoked that she changed her direction.
FACTIO MAGAZINE: Describe your signature style. How does your Brazilian background and living in France inspire you as far as fashion is concerned? ANNE FONTAINE: My style….eccentric, sensual and above all feminine. Living in Brazil has made me passionate towards the Amazonian rainforest and the preservation of the Indian culture in the Amazon. Brazil is also the inspiration for the “white shirt”, as white is the color of good fortune in Brazil.
FM: Define the style where you live. AF: I live in the country in the north of France amidst nature and wildlife in an ancient farmhouse from the 16th century, composed of the natural elements of Normand architecture, surrounded by my family.
FM: According to you, which lady (past or present) has impeccable style and why? What women in which city worldwide has the best style? AF: I am inspired by women of diverse time periods:
1900s: Sarah Bernhardt
1930s: Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo
1940s: Ava Gardner
1950s: Grace Kelly
1960s: Jane Fonda
Today: Halle Berry, Andie McDowell and Isabella Rossellini.
My most timeless inspiration would be my grandmother.
FM: Do you think money and style go hand in hand or can style never be bought? Is it something you just have? AF: Style is instinctive, it cannot be bought.
FM: What key fashion pieces do you always have in your wardrobe? What items have you bought for spring '05? AF: Of course a white shirt! I have not “bought” for spring, but I have “created” my favorite piece: a “gypsy skirt”
FM: What is your biggest fashion vice? What are your favorite shops worldwide? AF: My greatest weaknesses are shoes and “the shirt”….. For shopping I adore the flea markets of Paris as well as the Marais district; In NY: Soho, In Tokyo: Ginza, in London: Notting Hill and In Rio: Ipanema
FM: What's a fashion no-no when attending special events, galas and more? Any tips for getting ready for an event? AF: The biggest no-no is wearing something you are not comfortable in just because it is “in fashion”. My tips for getting ready? Put on an Anne Fontaine shirt, a little bit of mascara and a touch of color on the lips and as a woman, you are ready for anything!
FM: What would people be most surprised to know about you? AF: My first passion was to be a biologist.
FM: What are your own personal standards of beauty? And, what are your standards for style? AF: Natural beauty…simplicity. For me style is in the impact of the details. I put the accent on one detail, be it a great blouse or a fantastic piece of jewelry– I let that detail make my style statement.
FM: Did you know when you founded Anne Fontaine that the company would rise to the success that it has?! AF: Not really. But today I believe we are at the beginning of our journey and there is still so much to accomplish, so many new projects to realize and so much more to discover.
FM: What business advice and inspiration can you give women entrepreneurs? AF: As a woman entrepreneur, you must be passionate, energetic and relentless in the pursuit of your dreams. I have been inspired by the books of Stephen R. Covey: ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ and ‘First Things First’.
FM: What tips would you give women in general to be well rounded, balancing out life and business? AF: To be well rounded in business is to be well rounded in life – no matter how hard you work or how driven you are, you must always surround yourself with the things that you love and most importantly with the people you love, for me it is my husband, my children and my family.
FM: What are your favorite Anne Fontaine designs? What is your favorite way to bring “style” to everyone’s favorite closet staple – the classic white shirt? AF: I love to create my own fabrics and I enjoy working with lace, jacquard and embroidery to name a few. And the one staple in every woman’s closet to go with the classic Anne Fontaine shirt is a sexy blue jean!
FM: Where do you see Anne Fontaine (the brand) in five years? AF: That is our secret…. You will see in the next five years!
Factio Magazine (www.factio-magazine.com) is a fashion and beauty emporium showcasing the world's most talented designers, beauty products, international fashion shows, high-end events, store openings, luxury products, galas and more. We are a mulit-media company that extends in print, web, e-mail newsletters, video and upscale events. Check out Factio Magazine for hot trends, hip people, and amazing events.