Last week, I attended Anne Fontaine’s Boston Fashion Week show at the Four Seasons. I also had the pleasure of meeting with her. That is when I came to the realization that Anne Fontaine is the true depiction of a girl boss. She has been able to evolve both of her passions (nature and fashion) into her career and her brand. The designer, businesswoman, philanthropist, wife and mother has her finger on the pulse of empowering women through fashion and demonstrating her commitment to preserving mother earth.
Chic Beat: Did you always envision yourself having a career in the fashion industry?
AF: No, when I was a child I had two great passions. The first was nature and the second was fashion. I studied biology in school, but my husband’s family owned a factory where men’s shirts were made. We wanted to continue the business.
Chic Beat: I read that after you found a trunk filled with white shirts that it triggered the inception of your company. Is that a true story?
AF: Yes, it was a trunk that I found at my mother-in-law’s home. She would keep some of the shirts that were made at the factory. It was filled with men’s shirts. I told myself at that moment that I needed to create the same thing for women.
Chic Beat: Is that why white shirts are such a big part of your collections?
AF: I wanted to make essential wardrobe pieces for women. I liked the idea of creating timeless fashion, like the la petite robe noire (little black dress), but instead mine was based on a white shirt.
Chic Beat: Where do you find inspiration for your fashion?
AF: I have so many inspirations. I really like the way that women dressed in the 50s and 60s. They were very elegant especially the blouses that they wore. It was important for me to recreate this style but in a more wearable way for today.
Chic Beat: How do you want women to feel when they wear your clothing?
AF: It’s important to me for women to feel confident and beautiful in my clothing. I’m a woman and I love fashion but I want my own look. I think it’s important to highlight a woman’s personality. I want her personality to shine and to be brought out when she wears my clothing.
Chic Beat: Last year, you expanded your accessories line to include shoes. What can we expect in 2017?
AF: I am planning to launch a casual line that includes knitwear and a T- blouse concept. The front of the shirt will be poplin and the sleeves and back of the shirt will be in knit fabrics. It is so comfortable and easy for everyday wear. The knit is made of cotton that I buy from Peru. It’s very high quality.
Chic Beat: You can tell that craftsmanship is very important in creating your designs. How involved are you in the process of creating the concepts for your designs and bringing them to life?
AF: I am very hands-on. I create everything that is in my shops. All of the embroidery and lace included in my designs are all handmade. I have a collection called Precious; which is similar to haute couture, and I work with great embroiders that have an eye for detail from Paris and Italy. Everything is handmade. I love this collection.
Chic Beat: You mentioned that nature is also one of your passions. You have the Anne Fontaine Foundation and you do a lot to spread awareness about environmental issues and are helping to preserve the rain forest in Brazil. You were born in Brazil. Is that why this cause is so important to you?
AF: I was born and raised in Brazil. I lived there for 17 years, until I moved to Paris to pursue my studies. I always was fascinated with nature. I would escape from school and go to the Mata Atlantica rain forest just to explore. Now, I have 3 kids and I see what’s happening to our planet. It’s impossible to not do something to preserve it. I want to do more. I lived in Normandy, France and had a huge farm. 85 % of my food came from my farm. I’ve lived in New York for the past year and I can’t believe that there is so much waste. People recycle but there is still so much waste. I learned at the New York Aquarium, that the US uses 1,500 water bottles every second and only 20% are recycled. This planet is fragile and very complex. We need to do what we can to preserve it. I try to help through my foundation. I have planted 14,000 trees and I focus lot on educating kids about the importance of protecting the earth. You don’t need money to make a difference. You can help just by changing some of your daily activities.
Chic Beat: Have you found a way to incorporate ecofriendly fabrics and materials into your designs?
AF: It’s not so easy in the fashion industry. My partners and I try to be socially responsible. For my sports line I will use organic cottons and recycled fabrics. This is my big project for 2017. This is my big surprise.
Chic Beat: Thank you for sharing this news with Chic Beat readers. That’s exciting! What are you most excited about tonight?
AF: It’s important for me to give back and to find new ways to collaborate with others; which is why I collaborated with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. A customer came into my Boston shop and asked if we would like to collaborate with the foundation – and here we are. A portion of the proceeds from tonight will go to charity.
Chic Beat: You must feel such a sense of accomplishment when you see your designs on the runway. In your own words, what are some of the emotions that you feel?
AF: Sometimes I just can’t believe it. I end up wanting everything for myself. Things are so fast pace, I create one collection and move on to the next. It’s so amazing to stop for a second and see it on the runway. It makes me feel really proud.
I was awe-struck over the gorgeous collection. The simplistic yet elegant collection, embodies femininity and is timeless. Prior to the show I asked myself, “how many ways can someone design a white shirt”? For Fontaine the possibilities are limitless as each white shirt that graced the runway was more fabulous and intricate than the one prior. The delicate craftsmanship that went into these designs differentiates the collection from other brands. Everything about the collection exuded luxury, from the luxe fabrics to the unexpected pops of rich color. By the pleased looks on the faces of the predominantly female audience, you can tell they were also in adoration of this collection and were imagining themselves wearing these lovely garments (just like me).
The evening didn’t stop there. The festivities continued at Fontaine’s boutique nearby. The champagne continued to pour but this time they were accompanied by delectable macaroons. Fontaine was so gracious by welcoming and taking selfies with guests. She is equally lovely as she is humble and kind – a real class act!