At 17, this adventurous, nature-loving designer ventured to the Amazon forest, living with the Canela tribe for several months. In her twenties, she supported whale conservation efforts in Monaco.

Designer Anne FontaineToday, designer Anne Fontaine continues to be a fierce advocate for environmentalism; she’s set up a non-profit organisation in her name to help reforestation efforts in Brazil. Best known for her white shirts, eco-consciousness continues to be an important part of Fontaine’s lifestyle and her label too.

On November 24, this eco-conscious fashion designer will show her Spring/Summer 2013 collection at the Women’s Fashion Week 2012 in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands.

Ahead of her Singapore show, the fashion designer shares with us her passions for fashion and environmental conservation.

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, this designer said she would have become a biologist, if she had not pursued her passion for fashion.

“My first passion has always been the environment,” says Fontaine. Currently based in France, Anne Fontaine lives on an organic farm in Normandy with her family.

“I’m all for the consumption of local organic and seasonal produce,” says Fontaine. “My family eats what we grow.”

The designer has developed an organic skincare range in 2007; she also opened her first Anne Fontaine spa in the same year.

“Natural materials and the healing properties they possess have always inspired me,” says Fontaine. “I also tap into my adolescence in Brazil for the secrets of exotic fruits, essential oils, natural resins, and milk” for their skin hydrating benefits.

According to Fontaine, “the most common misconception about eco-conscious fashion, is that people think that these are very basic garments, unsophisticated with only natural colours.” In fact, this designer adds that there’s plenty of eco-conscious materials to work with. “Narrowing down the options” actually becomes “the biggest challenge” each season, says Fontaine.

Fontaine makes her personal eco-conscious habits a part of her brand too. Besides recycling cellophane bags, paper, minimising the use of plastics at her offices, light-sensors maximise the use of natural lighting at the Anne Fontaine headquarters in Honfleur, France.

The designer set up the Anne Fontaine Foundation in 2011, with the intention to protect and reforest the Mata Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. The non-profit organisation aims to plant and protect “one million trees. . . over the next five years”. 

The Anne Fontaine label also commemorates Forest Day annually by donating 50 per cent of its global retail sales to the Anne Fontaine Foundation’s reforestation projects.

In Fontaine’s book, a classy white shirt is a wardrobe must-have. It’s “a piece that can work across all occasions and can be paired with many different accessories,” explains Fontaine. The white shirt is an item that “every woman can play with to create her own identity and express her own creativity.”

This designer loves “sculpting” her shirts onto a mannequin to create “a fit like second skin”. She believes that “women should feel comfortable” in what they wear; so an ideal white shirt “should be able to take them from the humidity of summer to the coolness of winter.”

Instead of buying a trendy design that you’ll toss out the next season, a white shirt can become that “investment piece”, that “familiar and reliable piece of clothing” that you’ll wear again and again, advises Fontaine. You’ll also minimise your carbon footprint by keeping such a timeless piece.

With the Anna Karenina film coming soon to cinema screens, the launch of Fontaine’s Autumn collection seems just timely.

Anne Fontaine SS2013 at Women's Fashion Week 2013
Anne Fontaine Autumn/Winter 2012

This Fall, Anne Fontaine presents a darkly glamorous collection, loosely inspired by the Tolstoy heroine; it’s Fontaine’s take on what the Russian princess would wear in our century.

Described as “an intense scenario of three parts,” the Anne Fontaine collection pictures Anna Karenina decked in “silky, refined fabrics” as she steps off the train at the smoky station; wearing decadent layers of lace and rich fabrics when she joins a ball at St. Petersburg; and finally, donning softer shades of blue and pink for a countryside retreat.

In lieu of big skirts and heavier fabrics of 19th century Russian fashion, Fontaine uses streamlined silhouettes, while going big on detail with the use of multiple textures and layers of fabrics. She keeps touches of her Victorian-era inspiration intact with dramatic ruffles on high collars, skirts and coats.

One of Fontaine’s favourite ways to wear a white shirt — with a beautiful collar. “These removable collars can “really transform an outfit and take it from day to night,” says Fontaine.

Women’s Fashion Week 2012: Anne Fontaine to show SS2013 line
Collars from Anne Fontaine Precious Pre-Fall 2012

The designer creates intricate collars and cuffs every season for her Anne Fontaine Precious collection. Perfect for glamorous evenings, Fontaine’s capsule line celebrates old-world glamour with these and more classic accessories such as bustiers, corsets and gloves.

Anne Fontaine Spring/Summer 2013 at Women’s Fashion Week
Date and Time:
Saturday, November 24, 2012, from 9pm
Venue: Rain Oculus, Marina Bay Sands

The event is by invite-only. Win a pair of invites to the Anne Fontaine fashion show here.

Anne Fontaine is located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, B1-90A, Galleria Level, Singapore 018972, Tel: 6688 7085 and Scotts Square, 6 Scotts Road, #01-01/02, Singapore 228209, Tel: 6636 1954.

Watch our video on the Eight ways to wear a Anne Fontaine white shirt here.