Nicole Farhi, the French Lady of British Fashion

Who could be more appropriate to inaugurate this new Q&A than Nicole Farhi, the epitome of French chic, London style? The famous designer, born in Nice in 1946 in a Turkish immigrant family, studied Fashion in Paris before moving to London in 1970. Two years later, she launched French Connection with then partner Stephen Marks (with whom she has a daughter, Candice), before branching out to create her eponymous fashion brand in 1982. Nicole is married with the Oscar-winning play and screen writer Sir David Hare and was made a CBE by the Queen in 2007, as well as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2010. She received Chic-Londres around tea and home-made lemon cake in her very artist-y house in Hampstead, full of books, paintings and sculptures (her own) to discuss her style.

How would you describe your style in three words? Feminine, masculine and relaxed.

How has it evolved along the years? It hasn’t really evolved at all! I’ve always loved to dress in a pair of tailored trousers and a simple shirt: if you look at pictures of me as a teenager, my outfits are very similar to the ones I wear nowadays. The only exception dates from the 70’s when I wore a lot of hippy  long skirts. When it comes to beauty, my routine is quite simple: I’ve always kept long frizzy hair and never worn much make up.

What are your wardrobe staples? Classics declined in my four favourite colours: white, black, grey and navy. I do have a long of white shirts and tee-shirts, some black, grey or navy trousers, a few white jeans and black, grey and navy trousers. I love being dressed in black, but not just in white: if I wear white trousers, then I will have something dark on top.

Do you follow trends? No, I only follow what I make myself. I won’t make or wear something just because fashion magazines say it’s trendy. I remain faithful to classics and wear shoes that are comfortable enough to allow me to walk in them all day.

How do you dress at home, at work and at a party? At home, I choose comfort over style so don’t mind wearing horrible clothes! I spend a lot of time sculpting, so I prefer very old clothes so that it doesn’t matter if they get dirty. When out of the house, I wear my classic “uniform” day and night. If there is a very special occasion, I usually wear a black tie suit and sometimes a white tuxedo, such as  at the New York Met ball last year.  I rarely go for dresses, although I did wear a navy tulle dress from my collection at the Academy Awards when David won an Oscar for The Hours.

Who are your fashion icons? Charlotte Rampling when she used to wear masculine clothes and Yohji Yamamoto. But apart from her, I don’t really have any fashion icon. I know it sounds surprising, but I really think that the least you think about what you’re wearing, the best you feel about yourself- although as a fashion designer, I probably shouldn’t be saying that!

How do you define elegance? Elegance is about graceful movement, made possible by well fitted, comfortable clothes. A woman who knows how to walk in heels can look very elegant, but one who can’t walk properly in them looks terrible. Similarly, a woman who wears a very short skirt and shows her knickers when she sits down can’t be elegant, however pretty she might be. Elegance is about forgetting what you are wearing, because you are comfortable both in your clothes and in your own skin.

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