No, French fashion isn’t a striped shirt and a beret. It isn’t Emily in Paris either. To know what the truly stylish in France look like, look no further than Jeanne Damas, fashion darling and business extraordinaire, who has channelled her effortless chic aesthetic into her Parisienne brand Rouje.
And yes, I know we said French Girl Aesthetic in the title, but Damas is more than that – her effortlessly chic style has gained her a devoted following worldwide. She’s a fashion muse for many a designer and has authored a number of books that offer a glimpse into her lifestyle, her fashion and her sisterhood – the women who inspire and uplift her.
But it’s the opening of Rouje that defines her today. Rouje is Jeanne Damas and Jeanne Damas is Rouje. Inspired by the styles of women around her, from the way they move and speak to the way they carry their clothes – always more suggestive than revealing, with femininity interlaced in the details. The Rouje uniform can be described as a mix of delicate flowing dresses paired with menswear jackets, floral prints, chunky knits and always, always, a well-worn pair of jeans. On the feet, kick back with ’90s mules and ankle boots. It is comfort, and style, all rolled into one.
Rouje opened first as an online store but its popularity has allowed Damas to open physical stores in France, the States, and most recently, in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Fashion darling Jeanne Damas talks about opening Rouje in Hong Kong and Singapore and her unique style in the interview below.
You’ve authored books and posed for magazines; you’re also an entrepreneur, a mother and an actress. How do you juggle all your different roles and how do you find a balance between life and work?
I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to experience all kinds of different universes in my work. They all nurture each other, for example, my experience from acting helped me with my modelling or the creative ideas for some Rouje campaigns. Everything happens naturally and is linked.
How do you describe your own style?
Very simple, I like timeless and easy pieces which are like a uniform you put on in the morning without taking too much time.
Have you always been interested in incorporating vintage into your own style?
I like to play and modernise the nostalgia of past decades. Fashion is an eternal renewal, one has to reappropriate and reinvent all the time. I trust a lot in my instinct, I don’t believe too much in marketing, things need to feel real and sincere.
Tell us about Rouje and who the brand is designed for.
One of the main forces of Rouje is that it is easily adaptable to all kinds of body types and that every woman can find something according to her tastes. A feminine dress, a perfect pair of jeans or some boyish jacket.
Does Paris inspire you and your designs for Rouge?
Paris is my hometown in which I live and I grew up. So of course I’m inspired by its beauty, its rhythm and light. My friends and family, women I see passing by in the street. But travelling to other places and discovering other cultures and styles in the street is also a very important part of my inspiration.
What are your five wardrobe staples?
In winter I like to wear high-waisted jeans, a nice cashmere sweater and a men’s style jacket with ankle boots. I add a touch of colour and fantasy with some lipstick or a nice handbag like the zebra version of the Big bag from this fall collection.
Which item in your latest collection do you love the most?
It’s difficult to choose as the clothes are easy to wear, but I particularly like the Kim jacket. I’ve always liked lambskin coats and this one has all the details you are looking for in a vintage piece.
Rouje started as an online brand and now you have physical stores that are retailed internationally, including Hong Kong with rue Madame. Was this always your goal?
I’m happy that the customers are able to experience Rouje in a more direct way. I think the physical experience is something very important, the touch of the fabrics, the possibility to try on directly and be surprised by the creations. As Rouje is a lifestyle brand I think that the evolution of the retail experience is very important.
Rouje is available online and in selected stores in Hong Kong and Singapore.
This story first appeared in PrestigeOnline Hong Kong