Fashionista Agnès b on her Parisian country house

French clothing designer Agnès b doesn’t attend fashion week or advertise her brand, she likes to follow her own instincts. Since she opened her first boutique in Paris in 1975, in a former butcher’s shop, her name has become synonymous with an inextricably Gallic allure.

Her famous snap cardigan is a staple in the 230 stores she’s operated around the world almost since the beginning. His large circle of friends includes musician Patti Smith, who often shops in the men’s department. And her philanthropic activities are many, from her support for nonprofits like Human Rights Watch to the deep-sea research vessel (helmed by her son Etienne) that she funds to explore the effects of climate change.

In the entrance hall, the designer’s collection of vintage crockery is stored in an old cupboard. The work is by Cyprien Gaillard.

Dominique Nabokov

For more than three decades, the designer lived in a two-story mansion outside Versailles – not far from where she grew up – on a property once owned by Louis XIV and later given to Guy-Crescent Fagon, his personal doctor. Agnès found the house in a newspaper advertisement, which she cut out and slipped into a book. Months later, the news clipping dropped and she arranged to meet the seller, but not before an impulsive late-night visit turned daring and she found herself jumping over the high stone wall of the property for a closer view.

Amid historic architecture, she has created a relaxed world that seamlessly fuses centuries and cultures in spaces filled with history and warmth. His boldest move was painting a 19th-century wing of the house red; it now houses the library and the music room of Agnès. But elsewhere, the six-bedroom house retains many of its original features: limestone floors, floral plaster wall moldings and a central wrought-iron staircase. Other than a skylight in the dining room, there are few signs of modern interventions; instead, she allowed the house to evolve naturally with all the signs of age intact.

See the retirement of Agnès b outside Versailles

in the garden is a path lined with shrubs and flowering bushes leading to steps and an arched topiary with taller trees beyond

On a recent visit, she happily opened a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe to reveal piles of well-worn cloth napkins, tablecloths and table runners. She loves to cook and entertain, especially for her family — she has five children and 16 grandchildren. That Agnès, whose real last name is Troublé, started out as a designer can be seen in her home: she likes to create paintings of objects that juxtapose the old and the new, the precious and the everyday. She will place a grandson’s toy dragon, translucent and as delicate as antique glass – belying its mass production – atop a mantle next to a working 18th-century clock that once belonged to her grandfather. mother.

Outside, the property gradually rises from its front door to meet a verdant forest and hidden pool. Passionate about gardening, Agnès has created a landscape that is both cultivated and wild. She’s been collecting art for years (in 2020 she opened La Fab, a gallery in Paris) and has hung the walls of her home with favorite works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Simon Hantaï and Alighiero Boetti.

the designer is sitting on a bistro chair in her garden, wearing a light black jacket over a black t-shirt with a white abstract pattern

Agnès b in her garden, in a T-shirt designed for her brand by filmmaker David Lynch.

Dominique Nabokov
agnès b sitting in her studio in 1977, wearing a crew neck sweater, leather capris, socks and western boots, fabric swatches and garments hanging beside her

A 1977 portrait of Agnès b.

Jean Regis Roustan

During the pandemic lockdown in France, when she was mostly at home, Agnès experimented with an art project that combined both activities. As a young girl, her father affectionately nicknamed Agnès and her two sisters “the funny ones,or funny, an invented tenderness. She borrowed the term to describe the doll-like figures she fashioned from the extensive archive of clothes she keeps in her closet. She displayed these outfits in her garden and found her muses in a pair of small portraits she keeps on either side of her front door. The works of French-born, Los Angeles-based artist Claire Tabouret depict a pair of young women with smudged lips and determined gazes.

front and back red book cover with an image of a tree branch and two lines of handwritten text in French on the back, on the front the title les drolesses and two small painted portraits of young girls' faces

The cover of the funny ones, her pandemic art project of outfits paired with portraits of Claire Tabouret.

Dominique Nabokov
lying on the ground in the garden is a little girl's light blue dress with a short pink sweater and dark blue high heels with a turquoise star on each, on the neck is a painted portrait of a young girl's face

A die funny in the garden.

Dominique Nabokov

Over the years, Agnès has often adapted her own images of flowers, water and architecture into textile prints for her fashions. So it was only natural for her to photograph these imaginary companions with her iPhone, draping them over moss-covered steps or grass. “They became my role models,” she says. The photos have been collected in a book, the funny ones, and will be exhibited this fall at the Boutique Agnès b Galerie in SoHo, New York.

Passionate about gardening, Agnès b created a landscape that is both cultivated and wild.

Now that the confinement is over, Agnès has reopened her office in the 10th arrondissement of Paris and commutes every working day. Yet his home, an hour west of Paris, continues to be both his sanctuary and a laboratory of ideas. In a garden studio set in a field of wildflowers, she makes time for personal art projects rarely seen outside of her family and friends. But these privately conceived creative endeavors could become stepping stones to his next public project. For Agnès, home is a constant source of inspiration – and where she likes to be.

an agnes b storefront painted in a deep charcoal with decorative columns in front and dressed mannequins in the windows, in front is a banister with a wrought iron balustrade

An Agnès b boutique in New York.

David Godlis
an agnes b fashion runway with male models wearing casual suits and female models wearing pantsuits and dresses

An Agnès b fashion show in Paris.

Jib Kan

Produced by Lea Singer

september 2022 cover elle decor

This story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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