David Bowie wore her leather trousers, she counts Patti Smith and David Lynch as friends, and at 75 she is the president of hip-hop centre La Place in Paris’ Les Halles. How cool is Agnès B? The French designer, real name Agnès Troublé, has been writing her own fashion rules for four decades, and now is the subject of a lovely cloth-bound biography, Agnès B: Styliste (published by Abrams and created with journalist Florence Ben Sadoun).

As one would expect from a culture-loving Parisian whose tastes range from 20th-century rock gods to the kings and queens of Versailles, this charming tome has a wonderful scrapbook feel, exploring the history of the brand together with Agnès B’s myriad influences through notes and sketches, personal photographs, catwalk pictures and campaign shots. “The idea was to make a book that would show people it’s OK to have your own style and not be influenced by other fashion people,” she tells me in an interview for the FT.

Agnes b’s snap cardigan

One of my favourite photos in the book is of Patti Smith on stage at the Paris Olympia in 2006 wearing a floral-print shirt and red, white and black striped pants. It was this laidback French take on rock ’n’ roll that appealed to me in the late 1980s, when as a recent graduate and newcomer to London I saved up to buy chic cotton T-shirts from Agnès B’s Floral Street store (to be worn with ripped jeans, of course). Later came a pilgrimage to the original Agnès B shop in Les Halles on my first trip to the French capital.

Surrounding herself with creatives of all ages is something the designer is committed to – she continues to fund the 94-year-old American-Lithuanian filmmaker Jonas Mekas in New York – and this range adds breadth and vitality to her work and her life. “I have 16 grandchildren and some of my friends – musicians, filmmakers – are 30-35, the same age as my oldest grandchildren. I have a very rich life,” she says. This book is testament to that.

Read the full How To Spend It feature HERE.

Agnes B is exhibiting at ‘We Love Art!’ Collection Lambert, Avignon, as part of the Arles 2017 photographic exhibition, from 6 July – 5 November 2017.

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6 thoughts on “Agnes b: a celebration of 40 years of style

  1. I have always loved Agnes B ever since I used to visit her shop in Les Halles in the early 80s. I remember saving up for one of her gorgeous leather biker jackets. I still have the jacket and wear it occasionally although it is beginning to look a bit worn! I had the very wide shoulders modified about 10 years ago to bring it up to date. (those 80s big shoulders were a bit much)

  2. I have a distinct memory of first visit to the Agnes B Floral Street store, in Covent Garden. I was a Canadian, expat, new mother on a help-get-me-out-of-here, oh so important, day in London!

  3. I have a second-hand Agnes B cream wool jacket that just gives a lift to every autumn/winter outfit I pair it with. When I got my first job, I bought an Agnes B snap bomber jacket. I guess my style hasn’t changed that much!

  4. I too bought some t-shirts from Agnes B boutiques long ago. Last purchase from the one near Saatchi gallery: red silk scarf with white polka dots. Charming, useful and with its made in France not China label. I always liked the style of her clothing range but found them too tiny and too expensive when not on sale. I have followed her art projects. The Rencontres d’Arles photography festival which runs into September is a wonderful place to visit. I was fortunate enough to go to it for second time last September. Art exhibitions in all the churches and other buildings in the town and new exhibition buildings being constructed last year to house yet more exhibitions. Really worth visiting this annual event.

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