“I think about the world that my daughters will grow up in, which is something I think is important for all designers and consumers to think about,” offers Anne Fontaine, the fashion designer who presented her eponymous label’s fall/winter 2022 collection at The Monaco Ball in Singapore just last week. A charity ball held in support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation—a non-profit organisation that has set their sights on alleviating environmental issues—the occasion saw a throng of key industry leaders, communities and philanthropists alike come together for an acknowledgement of this year’s theme: ‘Ocean’.
With a spotlight on the world’s largest water resource and its endangered biodiversity, it is undeniably a theme of weighted significance—one that Fontaine simply cannot ignore, especially considering her previous work in the marine biology field. Prior to her pivot to fashion, the fashion designer had found herself dabbling directly in work dedicated to protecting the whales and dolphins of the Mediterranean sea—a fortuitous pretext to her meaningful partnership with the foundation.
This fervent desire to remain committed to the environment has somehow led Fontaine to conceptualising her eco-conscious design ethos, from finding a way to work with the white shirts she found in an old trunk belonging to her husband’s grandmother, to planting trees in the rainforest as part of the Anne Foundation. And for her latest collection, the designer who’s well-known for the immaculate precision of her white shirts for women, seems to go the extra mile, by working with recycled fabrics and reorganising her business’s processes in a bid to reduce their overall carbon footprint. After her show at The Monaco Ball, we speak to Fontaine on why the environment has served as such a natural means of alignment in her work, and what we can expect from her next.
Hi Anne, thank you for joining us today. What have you been up to lately?
I have been spending a lot of time designing and discovering new sources of inspiration for Anne Fontaine’s upcoming collections. During my free time, I love to spend the hours with my husband and three daughters.
Anne Fontaine is world-renowned for its classic white shirts and versatile yet luxurious women’s ready-to-wear pieces. How has the brand evolved since its conception?
We first started off as an all-white shirt brand. I was inspired by a trunk of men’s white shirts that I found in my husband’s attic—it originally belonged to his grandmother. It got me thinking about how every woman should have a shirt like this, but tailored to suit the female body. Now, after 25 years, we have fast evolved into a full wardrobe brand, whilst staying true to our core concept of white blouses. We now offer pants, suiting, jackets, knits and a full accessory line that includes shoes, handbags, cufflinks, brooches.
In your eyes, how would you describe the Anne Fontaine of today?
The Anne Fontaine of today is stronger than ever. We have truly developed our own iconic means of styling and reinventing the white shirt. My vision for the brand is to hopefully empower the women who buy from us—through strong designs that still reign classic with a Parisian flare.
“I think about my daughters and the world they will grow up in. It is important for all designers and consumers to think about the world we will leave behind for our loved ones.”
Over the years, Anne Fontaine has been committed to various environmental causes. Could you share more about why this is such an integral aspect to the brand?
It’s a very personal topic to me. I lived with the Indians in the Brazilian rainforest for six months when I was younger—at about the age of 17. That was also when my passion for giving back to the environment really began. Now, as part of our efforts with the Anne Foundation—which is a big part of the brand—we plant many trees in the rainforest, which is like a second home to me. To date we have planted over 50,000 trees through the Foundation and as part of our celebrations every year, we will donate 50 percent of our sales from Forest Day.
Tell us about some of the highlights for the brand from this past year.
We have seen many new stores open up across the globe—from the US to Italy, Switzerland and even Shanghai. We also have one in Monaco opening soon. Another highlight for me was definitely the show in Singapore. It was truly a dream for me to showcase my collection in such a wonderful city with so many special guests in attendance.
Anne Fontaine presented its latest collection at The Monaco Ball. Tell us what brought about this collaboration.
We have been based in Singapore for a long time and Jaqueline Deromedi, the chairman of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has been a long-time client with us. When she asked us to participate in this year’s ball which revolves around the ‘Ocean’ theme, I was very honoured and happy to be part of a cause that is so close to my heart—considering my previous work with oceans and marine biology.
What can we expect from this collection and how have you incorporated sustainable practices into this line-up?
This collection is a new venture for me. It truly embodies the ultimate power of elegance that is achieved through modern femininity. The fall/winter 2022 line-up sits as an ode to Paris—and is in line with the launch of my Gala dress collection. I’m glad that it was just in time for The Monaco Ball.
We are partnering with manufacturers to make use of sustainable and recycled fabrics as much as we can. We try to be more creative in order to upsell unused fabrics. We have also replaced the supplies we are using with recycled materials and have begun thorough reorganisation of business processes within the company to avoid overextending our carbon footprint when we travel etc.
How do you feel fashion designers and houses can continue to drive impact through foundations?
For me, I think about my daughters and the world they will grow up in. It is important for all designers and consumers to think about the world we will leave behind for our loved ones. Our voices can be communicated through our designs and we should take this opportunity to bring awareness to our consumers.
And finally, what’s next for you?
Of course, I’m always looking towards the next season’s creations, and figuring out how to maintain a high level of quality throughout my work. I want to make sure that my designs are timeless and will have a lasting shelf life. Infusing durability and sustainability into my designs is a way to protect the environment after all. I am also working on children’s wear that will come soon.