I have to say I was getting worried – my favourite Uniqlo collab usually comes out at the end of January and this year there was no sign of it but of course everything in retail has been upended and at last here it is – Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22. This year’s inspiration comes from Marrakech and we see the introduction of a red rose print along with cotton pieces with easy box pleats, designed to feel comfortable in the heat of the sun. As I mentioned on Friday it’s a smaller, more bijou range this year containing repeats of some of our much loved basics along with some new colourways to refresh the collection. I’ve made my try-on quick, looking at what I would add to the IdLF capsule that I’ve built up over the last six years. That way you can go straight to the site before things start to sell out.
Before I move on to that though, let’s just recap on what makes Uniqlo’s retail model stand out from others on the high street. As you know, it prides itself as being the master of basic staples and I think it really does own the market in terms of the quality:price ratio. However a retail model that only sells basics could soon become boring so Uniqlo overcomes that by working with a core group of very different designers who put their own spin on key pieces by producing tight collections that are in store for a brief period.
This enables them to penetrate to the core of completely different demographic tribes in a way that no other retailer can, specifically because they give each collection a limited release. This minimises the chance of a Jil Sander aficionado having an awkward in-store collision with Minnie Mouse. Of course quite a few other high street brands have started doing collabs now but none have the breadth of eclectic, high brow relationships that Uniqlo does. Uniqlo works only with timeless designers who have a recognisable signature that they then cast over the mini collections that they conceptualise.
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22
Inès de La Fressange along with Jil Sander, JW Anderson and Marimekko are probably the ones that align best with our midlife preferences and Inès is always top of my list. In this collection we see the re-release of some of the reliable classics. I was particularly pleased to see the return of the frill collared shirt in my favourite shade of Inès sky blue (to my horror Ted plucked mine from the washing basket in his first few days at home and shredded it). You’ll also notice the introduction of bubblegum pink for the very first time. Although Inès makes a point of not being trend-led, she’s coincided here with one of SS22’s hottest colours.
There are two elements in particular that have Ines’s signature – she always designs clothes with a flattering neckline – a boat neck or a button through. She understands women’s bodies and what to do to make them look their best.
She also always produces her ranges in colours that flatter a midlife skintone – her neutrals are soft grey, camel and navy with ivory overlaid in summer. She then adds pops of warm accents for autumn and shades of red and hyacinth blue that are universally flattering for summer. For me the collections are colourblocking heaven.
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22 launches today – a quick try-on
I’m aware that I usually veer towards navy when I’m doing my try-on on so I’ve resisted this time, even though Inès says that this collection focuses on her eternal search for the perfect navy jacket. There’s always one particular shot of her that blows me away and here it is for SS22. Of course I know it won’t look the same on me because I don’t have the narrow hips, long legs or olive skintone (sigh) but even so I wanted to try the outfit on. I love the juxtaposition of the hoodie with the suit because it makes the whole look a little less formal. Here it is on Inès…
… and on me.
The trousers are cotton without the touch of linen that the jacket has (although I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t looked at the label) so they feel like an elevated version of a chino with a tapered cut. I almost always find that the trousers in the Inès range come up slightly small – I’m wearing my usual 29 and a 30 would have been just a fraction better. They’re also available in navy.
The jacket will work well as a blazer with dresses or jeans because it follows the ongoing trend for longer lines. The body is unlined so it will be easy to wash, the sleeves are lined with a striped ticking meaning you could roll them up to reveal the detail at the cuff. I’m wearing a medium and it’s true to size. It also comes in navy and a really lovely chambray shade which can be good for a blended look in the summer months because it gives mid-level contrast so it tones gently with both dark and light colours.
The knitted long sleeve hoodie adds more texture to an outfit than it would if it were made from standard cotton sweatshirting. It has lovely cross-stitched V detailing at the neckline which subtly flatters those of us with duck necks, drawing the eye down rather than across. It’s mid-weight so it will be good for cooler summer days or evening barbecues and it also comes in navy or Inès red. I’m wearing a medium and it’s true to size.
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22 – the frilled collar shirt
Moving on, here’s the hyacinth shade of blue in the shirt that I mentioned. I was surprised to find that it had a small coral coloured spot in addition to the pinstripe which I wasn’t sure about at first but in the end I quite liked it because it added warmth. As you can see it has my favourite style of shirt collar with a subtle frill that isn’t too girly. This is the best kind of shirt neckline for me because it sits slightly higher than a natural crew-line so it flatters my neck and I can wear it open to create a V. I’m wearing a medium and it’s true to size but it isn’t generously cut across the bust so if you need more space there, size up.
It’s also available in white and a darker blue chambray with a navy pinspot which would look great with the chambray blazer.
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22 – the boatneck sweater
The last piece of Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22 that I was keen to try was the re-release of the boatneck sweater. It’s a neckline that’s so hard to find and I still regret selling my navy merino one in a charity sale a few years ago. This is a summer version in the softest blend of cotton and silk, it’s light and just lovely against the skin. And it’s in one of my favourite summer colours which is completely new to the Inès range – she doesn’t usually go beyond her neutrals with a pop of red. I’m wearing a medium and it’s great for wearing with trousers, jeans or shorts. I’d be keen to try a small too because it would probably give me the neat fit I like for wearing with midi-skirts in the summer.
If I can get to the website before they sell out, I’ll be heading straight for the navy and ivory versions because I know they’ll be core capsule wardrobe pieces.
Other pieces to look out for from Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS22
Before I leave you to shop, the other pieces I want to highlight are the well-priced silk shirts, here in pink but also available in navy or ivory
And the soft cotton lawn shirts with their flattering open collar, available in white and soft grey. This one has embroidered rose sprigs.
And with that I’ll leave you to shop because there will be pieces that sell out by lunchtime. This range has a number of hardcore fans who build their wardrobe on hardworking basics with a twist – you can go straight to it here.
I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported the charity sale so far, there isn’t much left so I’ll be closing it tomorrow night. The gold spotty packages are now setting off on their way around the world, along with my thanks and good wishes. I’ll be back next week with a post all about the high jinks weekend we had with the boys and their entourage. It was so good to escape everything that’s going on around us for 48 hours and just focus on family and having fun with a group of teens and twenty-somethings is hard work as you know… but we gave it our best shot! My schedule’s all over the place at the moment because I’m travelling a lot with work so I’m not sure which day I’ll be posting but have a good weekend when it comes and I’ll see you next week.