Sophie Fontanel - Fashion Insider #1

by Emmanuelle Christ

For our very first interview, Sophie Fontanel, writer, journalist for ELLE magazine, and founder of DailyELLE, has kindly accepted to answer our questions.

Your job at the moment?

I'm writing a novel, La Vocation, on my relationship with fashion. Instagram is also taking me up. I'm trying loads of things on it, because this is the media for the fashion of the years to come. Besides, I'm doing a portrait of Jenna Lyons, director of J. Crew (coming to France next March), whom I just spent time with in New York.

Your start in fashion?

I was 21, working as an intern at Matin de Paris, Libération's competitor at the time. I had just been asked to write a column on the spirit of the time and I had asked to write about fashion. My editor took offence at seeing me so superficial.

What you like best in your job?

We see things before they appear. I also like the craziness of some people in the fashion world. They are fragile, penniless, and quite often wonderfully knowledgeable in terms of fashion.

A landmark press event?

John Galliano's last fashion shows for Dior. This poor man we could all see go downhill while we pretended not to notice. We've all been a party to his erring because of the overwhelming - let's say - diplomacy, that rules the fashion world. As far as I am concerned, no journalist had the right to judge Galliano for his sad performance at "La Perle", simply because all magazines had made sure to never disclose how lost this man seemed. I think he feels much better, for that matter.

What's in/on your desk?

I don't have a desk, I hate that. Everyone is surprised about this. I have an iPad, and a bed, and that's enough for me. I still have a computer, at home, and, to tell the truth, I do work quite a lot on it.

Your worst professional blunder (one you can tell about)?

I let the former owner of Balmain believe that I was “Sylvie from Vogue” (let me make things clear, I did tell him my real name while we shook hands, but he didn't want to hear that) and let him offer me a prohibitively-expensive dress.

Your nicest fashion recollection?

I was young, I was 25, I was backstage with Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and all the others. The atmosphere was friendly. I would go backstage every day, for a documentary. I would dress a little bit better every day. One day, I met Ines de La Fressange backstage, then we travelled to Sicily together, for work. She has become my friend. She offered me a pair of Clarks on this trip.

What do you expect from a press agent?

No pressure, because we're all in the same boat. The truth, doing me the honour of thinking I can hear her. To love her/his job. An interest in something else than business, so that we may also talk about books, exhibitions. This social link is important.

A word of advice for a brand hoping to be known without advertising?

That's the future. But it will be costly. Big brands are actually thinking about not advertising. They are not luxury brands but rather brands with a large distribution, forerunners who understood that what matters most is that clients themselves talk about you. We should stop advertising in a traditional manner. Except that to develop this, they need people like me, they need journalists. Our job is fully evolving.

Tell us about something completely crazy you've had to do for your job.

I don't know, a model casting ? I went with a friend of mine, we were in highschool, she had been approached by a talent scout. The photographer wanted to do a shooting test, but only of my hands and my feet.

Extra question: Who would you nominate for the next interview?

Alexandra Golovanoff. And here is my question: “Is politeness essential in the fashion world?” She is so marvellously polite, always is.

March 2015

Thumb 1
What i expect from a PR is “an interest in something else than business, so that we may also talk about books, exhibitions. This social link is important.”