French designer Juliette Longuet is staging her first Twin Cities trunk show Friday at a private home in Edina. This is what happens when a French supermodel moves to town and gets homesick for her chic fashion industry friends.
Let’s back up.
Model/actress Emily Caillon-Chene, who has lived all around the world, been the face of Olay, and graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, settled in the suburbs of Minneapolis last year when her husband took a job with CarVal (an independent subsidiary of Cargill Inc.). Her shopping has been focused on furniture and diapers—her second daughter was born two months ago and the family’s Edina home is just about ready for a party.
Or a trunk show. Caillon-Chene—who is as gorgeous and effortlessly chic as you’d imagine a French model to be, in a silk mini dress and heels that few mothers could pull off ever, let alone eight weeks after producing a human—is throwing open the doors of her newly renovated home to introduce the Twin Cities to Longuet, a New York-based designer (better known in Europe as host of a travel show) whose collection is similar in price point to Rebecca Taylor, with the timeless style and luxe touches (think: fur and double-sided silk) of more expensive lines.
Longuet has a store in New York and sells to boutiques around the world but she's discovered she enjoys the personal touch of selling directly and helping women plan their wardrobe. What she and her Edina hostess are too polite to say: we Americans need their help.
“Yoga pants are terrifying. It would never cross my mind to be in lululemon all day,” says Longuet, clad in a cream silk blouse, pale pink mini skirt, and silver ballet flats. “We (French women) come to a fitness class dressed in an outfit, change for the class, and then get dressed again.”
And yet, Longuet says Americans like to dress up far more than her French sisters. We’re also more polished, she says, always with our nails done and hair blown out. But in the style department, the French have us beat. Longuet offers these tips:
Banish the business suit. “Stop thinking about clothes for work versus weekend. Why would you buy a boring pantsuit when you could get a leather skirt, a silk blouse, and a fabulous jacket that you’d also wear on the weekend? It’s so much sexier.”
Get over the cotton button down with pearls. “I think even J.Crew is moving past this,” Longuet says. “It’s too classic. It makes you look older. Wear a silk blouse instead. Or try one with details, like transparent sleeves. It’s more interesting, and glamorous.”
Think about outfits. “My American customers buy far more than the Europeans—because they buy individual pieces, and then don’t have anything to wear with them. Buy pieces you can mix and match. Then you don’t need as many.”
Invest in quality. “European women think it’s worth it to spend more on leather leggings that will last, instead of cheaper faux leather ones that won’t last as long. We might only have two pair of jeans, but they fit perfectly.”
Wear color. “More and more, women over 40 don’t want to wear black. It makes them look older. If I’m the only one in red at an event, everyone compliments me and the rest look so boring. I’m bringing more yellow, pink, and blue into my collection.”
Embrace femininity. “When I want to be comfortable, I’ll wear silk pants that gather at the ankle with a leather jacket and sandals. I still feel feminine, which is very important to me.
Shoes are everything. "Shoes make all the difference—I can’t be in heels all day, but I’ll pick my moments for them, and then change into a metallic ballet flat, which is so elegant. I don’t think I even own sneakers.”