Leandra Medine Interviews Ines de la Fressange on the Blessing (and Curse) of Social Media
Leandra Medine: Hi! How are you? It’s good to hear your voice.
Ines de la Fressange: Ah, yeah, it’s fun. Where are you? Are you in New York?
L: I am. I’m in my apartment right now—it’s very hot here!
IF: I’ve spent the whole day working in the garden. I thought it would be a good office for the day, to lie out on the soil. And how are you?
L: I’m good! Quite busy with work.
IF: Do you work a lot?
L: I do.
IF: We’re supposed to talk about Instagram, aren’t we?
L: Well, yes, and we’re supposed to talk about Roger Vivier on Instagram, but knowing you and knowing me, we are probably going to talk around it.
IF: I think Instagram reveals a lot about people.
L: How so?
IF: Well, there are some unknown people whom I love, because of their sense of humor or choice of pictures, and some others that just show pictures of themselves in splendid hotels or luxury places, and I hate them [laughs]. Just based on these few pictures, we form our opinions and choose to follow someone but not someone else. Nowadays, everybody wants to be judged and everybody wants to show the best side of himself or herself.
L: I actually disagree. Your daughters are teenagers, right?
L: I don’t know if this is true in Europe, but in the United States, we’re seeing raw, unedited footage from the younger communities. They have separate accounts, one for pretty pictures and one for “real” pictures, and often the “real” picture accounts have larger followings. They’re gravitating toward truth in a way that is quite refreshing.
IF: That’s the real difference between generations. No way would my daughter put a very glamorous picture of herself on Instagram, but she might choose to share a weird or funny situation. You know, after so many years being in the magazine world, trying to take the best pictures that are sophisticated—suddenly, pictures that wouldn’t have been shown before are being seen. Because that’s what we like!
L: What role do you feel Roger Vivier plays on Instagram?
IF: Roger Vivier’s Instagram is not a catalog; it is there to show the spirit of the house, sometimes I feel like we are still searching, trying to figure it out, between you and me.
L: Oh, that doesn’t have to stay between you and me; everyone is always trying to figure it out. I think the trouble is that we don’t believe it’s OK to be searching, but sometimes the real beauty is precisely in the process. And showing the process!
IF: You have it figured out with your sense of humor. That’s why I love what you’re doing. Fashion should bring some lightness and some fun, but the real talent is being able to have fun and show fun—and stay elegant. It’s not the easiest thing to do.
L: No, it’s not. It’s all about nuance and being understated in all of your intentions. If you hit everyone over the head trying to be funny, it’s not funny at all. As a matter of fact, it can be kind of sad. But if you have a sense of humor, and you respect fashion, then it’s a completely different game. You’re not making fun of the industry, you’re not making fun of the work, you’re just having fun with yourself and your work. Do you think that’s why you’re such a good fit at Roger Vivier? Because you bring that essence, that sense of humor, and that joviality with you to your work?
IF: Well, I’ve been here since the beginning and when we started there was no administration; it was just like Steve Jobs working in a garage, nobody could imagine it. And when we did the opening of the shop, we hired an agency to organize our party, and they asked me, “Would you like to have limos to go and fetch celebrities?” And I said, “No! They’re used to limos,” so we sent them checkered cabs and double-decker buses. I found that to be more luxurious.
L: That must have given the brand so much soul.
IF: “Dare to be different”—that’s my motto.
L: Do you use social media yourself?
IF: Yes, I have an Instagram account. But I don’t go there regularly. Sometimes people complain, saying I should post more pictures of myself.
L: Why don’t you?
IF: Sometimes I put up vintage pictures, and I say something like, “This is my grandma in the twenties or the thirties,” and people will say, “Oh! She looks just like you. It’s amazing!” And it’s actually just a picture of me. There’s no need to be too precious or pretentious with social media; the photos come and go so quickly. But I have learned that the most successful pictures are those of dogs or flowers. So I put up dogs and flowers. But never really myself in the bathroom making a selfie.
L: That’s the other nuance of social media—or it’s not just social media, it’s life. You can’t be anything that you’re not. That’s how a lot of this conversation starts. And it’s ironic because Instagram is all about presenting a perfect life, and yet, we know from anthropological history, from having souls and being people in the world, that it is dissatisfying and challenging to succeed if you’re trying to be someone you’re not. Whom do you follow on social media?
IF: I like to know what’s going on in the fashion world. I follow editors and writers and some photographers, but a lot of unknown people as well.
L: What do you find that you use Instagram for?
IF: There are fashion shows that I don’t go to, but it’s nice to see how they looked, which we see immediately, so I use it to see the events I was not at. Other times it can be for inspiration. I follow a lot of people that put up vintage pictures of films and actors and some people that make drawings of comics. But I’m not really a maniac about Instagram, it’s not my life like it is for some people. For some reason, I always feel bad showing the things I’ve been doing, but I know that each time I put up a Roger Vivier handbag or a pair of shoes, people love them. And it’s very funny to see the reactions, because sometimes I find that I put things quite simple but it’s the shoes or the boots I’m wearing, that I perhaps find too simple for Instagram, that people like the most.
L: Why, then, in your opinion, should a consumer buy Roger Vivier shoes?
IF: Well, if you’re only wearing white jeans and a navy blue sweater, or a cotton button-down shirt, you put on any pair of Roger Vivier shoes, and they transform the look. It’s not very easy to find shoes that are at the same time trendy but not boring and still elegant. The other day our stylist was here and she gave me some white jeans and a peacoat, then boots with a small heel, and the outfit was interesting because of the boots. The good thing about Vivier is that you don’t need a lot to look good. And it’s magic! You give them to your mother, she’s going to look great. Give them to your best friend, she’s going to look great, too. But then again, we’re all moody. Sometimes, we want to be in all black, and other times we want to wear the most sophisticated, crazy-colored shoe. And many women I know are like this; we want one thing then the opposite. With Vivier, it’s a twist, a mix of both of these sides that we have. It’s like the final touch. You can almost compare it to perfume—some people are sensitive to it, some people are not, but it makes a big difference.
L: These are such great stories! Do you ever use social media to tell them?
IF: In a way, yes, I never want our social media to look like a catalog. It should always represent the feeling, mood, and attitude of our company. It’s exactly like making a present for people who like art. The purpose is not to sell the thing we’re showing, but to capture the atmosphere of the house.
#LoveVivier, a tome in honor of iconic brand Roger Vivier, published by Rizzoli, explores fashion in the digital age and goes on sale at the end of this month.
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