"I never believed in the goddess thing,"says Ines de la Fressange, about her emergence as one of France's legendary beauties.
Tall, exquisite, with a perilously delicate frame, the former Chanel supermodel is now a designer and businesswoman, still appearing frequently on television and in magazines. In 1989, at the height of her modeling career, she was chosen as Marianne, the symbol of the French republic, a role in which Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve preceded her.
"Actresses and models often can't have a balanced emotional life," she says. "When you're sitting in front of a mirror all day, you unavoidably become a little egocentric and also a bit fragile. I was brought up to respect creativity more than anything else. Being a model is everything but creative. While I worked very hard, I wasn't under the impression that I was doing much. It was as if I were going to the casino and winning all the time."
That attitude served her well. Parisians have followed "Ines" through her triumphs and setbacks with affectionate pride—she is known as being infinitely sympathique, natural, and accessible—despite their distrust of anyone with her aristocratic origins. She left the runway in 1990 after a falling-out with Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld, who allegedly was unhappy that his muse had taken the vulgar role of national icon, and perhaps annoyed that there was someone new at the center of her life: Luigi d'Urso, the man who would become her husband.
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