Accidental Icon: Essentially agnès b.

"I want to make clothes that can be kept for a lifetime."  Agnès b.

There have been many conversations in the blogosphere of late about wardrobe “essentials”.  The word essential means “a thing that is absolutely necessary”.  In fashion it usually means timeless pieces that you can’t live without. It means those pieces that you can wear every day, any hour, at any age and that travel well with you through a busy life. If you invest well they can usually be kept for a lifetime.  When one looks at the multiple lists of what are considered “essential” one cannot help make comparisons to what are considered to be the elements of French style: a pair of black pumps, men’s shoes, ballet flats, classic trench coat, waist length jacket in wool or leather, white shirts, simple but expensive white T, a striped T, black suit, black pencil skirt, cashmere sweater, little black dress, black tailored pants, an expensive bag and finally really great sunglasses.  In the photos below you can see my look incorporates several of these elements: white shirt, sunglasses, waist length jacket in black wool, black blazer, black wool trousers, men's shoes and of course sunglasses. When I think “essential” and I think “French” I also think agnès b.

The personal style of Agnès b. or Agnes Troublé Bourgeois (her first husband the source of the b.) caught the attention of an Elle editor at a Paris flea market when she was 20 years old, a mother with twin boys who had divorced after one year of marriage. She began her career as a junior editor and stylist for the magazine. After two years she decided she would rather design clothes than style them and worked freelancing as a designer. She cobbled together her own income as her parents were not particularly happy about her divorce nor her bringing her sons to student protests in the late 60’s.  She calls herself a “nice” rebel and that, along with her minimalist aesthetic, makes her an "essential" designer for Accidental Icon. I wear her jacket below along with my favorite Jil Sander shoes and Oak shirt.

In the early seventies Agnès b. started her own label and encouraged by her second husband Jean-Rene de Fleurieu, opened her first shop in Les Halles in a former  butcher shop in 1975. There were white walls that everyone could write on, live birds flying around with nests made from threads of agnès b. clothes and new clothes hanging on lines not yet dry after dying. She opened her first shop in New York City in Soho in 1980. Her company is family owned and privately operated and includes 282 stores worldwide including 3 in NYC. She is another designer who is politically and ethically responsible. She has never advertised as she believes it is "manipulative" yet she has become enormously successful without it. The photo below is her newest store, “Galerie Boutique” at 50 Howard Street. The store is both an art gallery and a boutique that sells the designer’s collections for men and women. 

The new space is the manifestation of Agnès b. and her constant “becoming”. Moving beyond “essentials” and returning to the Accidental Icon’s favorite topic of discussion, reinvention, a future post will explore the designer’s currently diverse activities including being a filmmaker, a grandmother and a "catalyst" for young talent. I leave you with another quote from the designer.

 "I think clothes should give you the confidence to go out and think about other things."

When you are confident in your clothes what else do you think about?









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