A Sit Down in Paris With French Fashion Guru Sophie Fontanel

During my recent trip to Paris early October (just before the craziness of Fashion Week), I met with Sophie Fontanel, AKA Fonelle (for those who grew up reading French Elle!) at one of her favorite spots, La Coupe D’Or Rue St Honore, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris close to where she lives. Writer, fashion guru, digital celebrity (thanks to the selfies of her genius wardrobe looks on her Instagram account), a “femme des lettres” like we say in French, she reflects perfectly the coolest Parisian way of life at the age of 55. Here is my interview with Sophie.

Sophie fontanel

Sophie Fontanel

How would you describe yourself? Your style? Tell us a little bit about you.

I am 55, so I have integrated the style of the sixties (my youth) and I mix it with my mother’s style (Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn) and the actual mood (sneakers, for example). It’s always quite feminine, but with a boyish and free time touch.

After years at the French Elle you decided to leave the magazine and you followed your own path, do you still consider yourself as Fonelle?

Fonelle was my avatar at ELLE, but it is also a huge part of me. My «cartoon» part.

How is it to work at the french Parisian magazine L’Obs?

L’Obs has huge audience. I like it, for it is not only a feminine audience, and that’s why the title of my column is « Fashion for everyone ». Most of the time, fashion journalists talk too much to insiders and not enough to consumers.

Could you describe a journey of Sophie?

Usually I woke up naturally, very early, and work until lunch… at home. And then, social life starts.

When is your favorite moment during the day to write – your book?

Early in the morning. Or just before lunch. Empty belly, so to say!

Your articles for L’Obs?

The same.

Collection particulière

Sophie Fontanel.

What do you think about the Parisian fashion scene?

It’s not fake. It’s a true influence, a true culture, a true input. But we are so pretentious!

Do you think fashion and luxury are linked?

Not at all. Fashion is linked with desire and culture, which are both too strange things for very rich people.

You represent the stylish and free French woman in her 50s with the coolest attitude with no fear to express your opinions,what do you want to show to your readers and followers on the social media sphere through your sense of humour and auto derision? 

I try to embody an “Attitude”. Without attitude, no style. Attitude is the way you approach life. I have a soft and welcoming approach. Softness leads to a certain sense of humor, since it’s quite tough to be soft nowadays….

Two years ago you have decided that your grey hair is your new signature and you don’t need to cover them anymore, why and how your decision came from?

I was fed up with dying my hair. It was too dark. To hard for my first wrinkles… I saw this woman, Sarah Harris, fashion editor (Vogue UK) and found her long white hair amazingly great. And I started to notice other women like her in the streets. We need to start by a role model…

Your new book Une Apparition just came out this summer, could you give us some inside details?

My book is a diary of a makeover. It starts with me brown haired and ends with a sort of white haired angel. But behind this diary there a real search. What’s beauty? We know so little about that.

sophie fontanel

Une Apparition – her latest book.

What are the essentials to be a good a fashion editor and a good writer?

Editor: to dare. Fashion can easily be a routine, which is absurd.

Writer: to make your own experience a story something universal.

What would you say to someone who is asking you, how do you do to get That Style? Where do you think style comes from?

I am a little bit of Greta Garbo, mixed with a Japanese school boy, mixed with a dandy guy from Africa, mixed with Monica Vitti ! All of this in my dreams!

What do you think about how social media have changed the fashion scene?

Social media means sharing things and embodying things. Both things fashion may have completely forgotten. It’s revolutionary.

What are your next project?

A love story. But a very very unexpected one.

What do you want to achieve in your life?

Finding myself able to live like everybody . Since I am always walking like anybody else. As if I was unable to act like everybody does.

How as recognized fashion writer would you respond to this trivial question : what is your favorite color?

The color you have in mind when you’re in love. Honey with blue inside. And transparent.