Saturday 20 January 2018

Midlife style and its new fashion icon - Madame Macron

Madame Macron offers a masterclass in Gallic chic. Our fashion editor highlights the style lessons we can learn from the first lady

That certain je ne sais quoi: Brigitte Trogneux with her husband Emmanuel Macron on the red carpet
That certain je ne sais quoi: Brigitte Trogneux with her husband Emmanuel Macron on the red carpet
The shift dress, Lace-trim, €205, Ted Baker
Baby blue, €305,
Zip detail, €89.95, Mango
Leopard Print, €45, River Island
Snakeskin, €39.95, Mango
Lace-trim, €205, Ted Baker
Red Patent, €155, Kurt Geiger
On the campaign trail
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Following her husband's win in the French Presidential Election last Sunday, Brigitte Trogneux has been catapulted on to the world stage as a pin up for 'la femme d'un certain age'. We are certainly smitten, and intrigued, by her wardrobe choices and can't get enough of her alluring French élan.

At 64, this grandmother of seven is a paragon of midlife style with her perma-tanned limbs, shaggy blonde bob, high heels, short hemlines and love of luxe accessories.

But pause a moment if you think Irish women can achieve a similar look by taking their cues from her.

France may be only 18 sailing hours from our coastline but the difference between our two cultures is huge, especially when it comes to how we dress.

The reality is that the French have a rock chick aesthetic hotwired into their DNA, along with a shared love of key wardrobe assets that stretches across generations.

The French woman's breton will be correct, with the stripes starting from the shoulders down. Like her mother and grandmother, a young teenager will aim to wear a cropped tweed jacket like the ones that Coco Chanel first introduced on to the fashion landscape.

There will be a cropped leather biker, flat ballet shoes and, no matter where you are on the social or professional ladder, you will own or aspire to own a Chanel 2.55 because, unlike other nationalities, they don't buy lots. They buy little and well.

Brigitte undoubtedly shares the national respect for style icons like Carine Roitfeld. At 62, the former editor-in chief of Vogue Paris has a signature look of messy bed head hair and exaggerated smoky eye make-up. Fashion designers like Tom Ford, her close friend, love her very individual look but if an Irish woman of 32 - let alone 62 - tried to pull it off, she would be accused of looking like she was wearing last night's make-up.

There's the rub. The French approach clothes with an attitude and a confidence that comes with dressing from the inside out. Walk through any small French village and you will notice that the number of lingerie shops is only matched by the number of boulangeries and wine stores.

Brigitte had no problems posing with her younger husband in a cutaway swimsuit on holidays. It was a powerful image which graced the cover of Paris Match and it spoke volumes about her confidence on the topic of age and being in the public eye.

But age does matter to the former drama teacher from Amiens and in an insightful interview, Brigitte acknowledged that Emmanuel needed to go for it in 2017 "because by 2022, his problem will be my face".

Brigitte has been subtle in her facial work. Certainly her teeth look younger than the rest of her and her skin reveals a lot of sun damage but she is feisty, subtle with non-surgical anti-ageing facial treatments. Lots of women her age will look at that tight jawline with envy.

Clothes-wise, she has the gift of French soignée style, in bucketloads. She wears the exact same cornflower blue that Melania Trump has been sporting, but opts for a cropped leather jacket (inset) and it looks far more youthful.

She certainly likes her short hemlines but then Brigitte has great legs and she's right to show them off if she wants to, barelegged or with tights. It is only a matter of time before we see those pins in fishnets...

Best of all, I liked her age-neutral leather trousers (far right) which looked terrific on - infinitely more attractive, and sexy, than Theresa May's attempt.

Another lesson is to follow French brands that deliver on petite frames so the clothes don't swamp her. As well as cut and silhouette, she looks to block colours and has the courage to wear her shift dresses sleeveless. That's another major cultural difference between the French and Irish. They love showing off their tanned limbs but not us Irish, with our milk bottle white legs and insecurities about our arms.

Look to Brigitte, admire her confidence and take that home to your wardrobe. So what if you don't fancy those leather pants?

Irish Independent

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