LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Anne Fontaine's Designs on Life


French/Brazilian designer Anne Fontaine has extended her successful brand to include the opening of Paris' chicest flagship store and spa.

Anne Fontaine's Designs on Life

French/Brazilian designer Anne Fontaine has extended her successful brand to include the opening of Paris' chicest flagship store and spa.

Taking her successful brand beyond the seam, designer Anne Fontaine's Paris flagship store and spa is a modern lifestyle manifesto incarnate.

Anne Fontaine's definition of luxury:
Time to spend on something you like. Also it's detail, and something exclusive.

If luxury were...

An object
I like watches. I have a collection of small, old watches. I want to make a watch!

A place
A deserted beach.

A person
My husband.

A moment
The morning, when I take breakfast with my children.

When Anne Fontaine - a 22 year-old Brazilian born biologist - arrived in Paris 16 years ago, it was inconceivable even to her, the change that her life was about to take. A chance meeting with her future husband, the heir of a family of shirt manufacturers, led her to a life of design. Sixteen years on and with no formal design training, the Anne Fontaine brand is known worldwide for flawlessly cut women's shirts.

More recently the designer applied her creativity to wider fields with the introduction of accessories, cosmetics and more recently a luxury flagship store and spa, designed by acclaimed French designer Andrée Putman and project manager François Russo – now artistic director for the celebrated shirt brand.

For the realization of her spa and flagship store Fontaine was fixed in her choice – it had to be Putman "When I opened this spa I knew I wanted to do something with Andrée. It was my dream, but I didn't know if she wanted to work with me, so we called her office, but we were told she was too busy. I was very disappointed. I had a friend who was a friend of Andrée. They had a dinner together and she said "why don't you work with Anne, it's a really nice project and Andrée replied "but I didn't know that she wanted to work with me? As soon as she found out she called for an appointment" she recalls. Although the project was already underway, Fontaine remained resolute, and so her vision finally began to take form.

The strong identity of the noted brand inspired the overall theme of the two-story space, as shirt fabrics are creatively applied as a backdrop, setting the scene for Fontaine's famed blouses, which elegantly flank the walls of the retail area, continuing through to the sensual spa area, nestled in the basement.

As one descends past a wall-sized bluestone waterfall, inspired by the designer's Brazilian childhood, one must first pass through the gauzy glass doors to enter Fontaine's pampering heaven. The clever use of linen enveloped within the glass portal, which creates a discreet division between the foyer and the sumptuous treatment area, adds to the air of sartorial luxury of the sensorial refuge. And it doesn't stop at the décor. The signature treatments, created by Anne Fontaine (yet another string to her talented bow, which now extends across the lifestyle board to include loungewear, accessories, an organic cosmetic and skincare range and home scents) also take on the textural theme. "I love fabrics and fibres, that's why I started to make products that incorporated fabrics like linen, silk, bamboo and cotton. One has a linen base because the seeds provide hydration, the second is silk which is good for anti-aging. We have a full body massage with cotton, then there's the 'reve de soie'. For the design of this treatment I really thought about the fabric, when it's first taken from the cocoon" she coos.

Putman's combination of natural materials and textures creates a harmonious, balancing feel, in keeping with Fontaine's urban organic ideal, while illustrating the trademark timelessness of Putman's acclaimed design style. "With this spa, I really wanted to make something like couture" Fontaine explains. For François Russo, depth was the primary feature of the spa's protracted layout "The spa is housed in an underground space, and for me it was like the source of the water was already at the end of this huge long corridor, this is why I wanted to get the perspective of this long, underground space."

Following the incredible success of the rue Saint-Honoré store and spa, the designer recently celebrated the opening of a Tokyo flagship store and is about to launch her second spa within the forthcoming three-story flagship lifestyle store on New York's Madison Avenue.

The difference between a white shirt and an Anne Fontaine white shirt becomes immediately apparent the moment one touches the crisp cotton and appreciates the laboriously sculpted form of each model, which Russo creatively conveys through the beautifully ethereal imagery of Guido Mocafico, the photographer behind the campaign "I think he is really someone who goes beyond the matter. When I see images of animals, or jewelry photographed by Guido, I feel that you see them as you've never seen them before. He really goes deep into the matter, as does the work of Anne Fontaine. What was interesting for me was finding an artist to express this specific aspect of the work and to go into it. In the future we will work with other artists to explore other parts of the work, like a continual language. We will not only continue with photographers, but with video directors and painters – I find it very limiting to see fashion portfolios only featuring photography. I also wanted to use Guido because I wanted to present something very interesting within fashion, without showing a model wearing the clothes." Imbuing the humble white shirt with a sense of haute couture luxury is no mean feat, but if anyone can do it, Anne Fontaine can.

How do you define the perfect white shirt?
For me I think it's the mix. The perfect blouse requires the perfect fit, the quality of the fabric, the detail. I think these are all the ingredients.

What image for you defines the quintessential white shirt?
For me there are many. I like the image of Marilyn Monroe wearing jeans with a white shirt tied at the navel, it's very simple but very sexy.

Does the Anne Fontaine lifestyle reflect your personal lifestyle?
Yes. I really do what I like. When you like something I think that you succeed more easily. For me Anne Fontaine is not commercial, it is an extension of my lifestyle.

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