Camille Charrière on French Clichés, Strictly and the World's Comfiest Knickers

Trust me, you know Camille Charrière. French-born, London-based with an inherently cool sense of style and a class of wit that’s rarely found in the social media ether, the content creator and all-round fashion icon has carved herself a niche corner of internet. An original influencer in every sense of the word, it feels like she’s been around since before the term “influencer” was coined. But also, she’s original in her craft. In a world where algorithms rule and can ultimately make or break a brand—be it person or business listed at Companies House—Charrière’s dedication to her work, her aesthetic, and her voice has kept her followers hooked and her authority valued.

With great power comes great responsibility and it’s clear this is a something Charrière understands. A former lawyer who can articulate her thoughts on current affairs just as succinctly as she talks us through her current outfit rotation, Charrière approaches everything with consideration; this much is clear. As such, I imagine to attach her name, face and body to a cause or campaign isn’t a decision Charrière takes lightly. Which makes her rare ambassadorship and bespoke edit for Stripe & Stare so noteworthy. 

Stripe & Stare proclaims to make the world’s comfiest knickers. Female-founded, British-born and B-corp-certified (its knickers are made from TENCEL'” Micro Modal; a material made sustainably in Austria from Beechwood trees). Where does Charrière come in? Well, she was a fan first—she wore several Stripe & Stare pants during the process of fitting her nothing-short-of-iconic sheer lace wedding dress. Such a fan that, when the brand reached out to her to ask if she’s be interested in working with them on a special edit of underwear, she said yes. And let’s not downplay that—with 1.4 million followers (and counting) on Instagram alone, Charrière has received many such proposal in her time. Naturally, I wanted to know more. I spoke with Charrière to find out more about Stripe & Stare, the role underwear plays in how she gets dressed, which French style clichés she believes hold actual weight, what she really thinks of being an influencer and her aspirations to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

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Of all the brands you could collaborate with (I’m sure you’re asked by many!), why Stripe & Stare?
Stripe & Stare knickers have been my go-to for years now (Fun Fact: I have really cute photos of me trying on my lace wedding dress throughout the design process wearing a different pair at each stage). When the team reached out to suggest working together on an edit, I knew I wanted to do more than just curate my favourites. From where I stand, a company that not only talks the talk but truly walks the walk in the sustainable space, which is rife with greenwashing (especially in the clothing sector) is one in a million. Knickers are something that we all use; they are functional but also must be comfy and cute (or sexy depending on your mood). It’s one of the few items in our closet than we have no choice but to replace throughout our life (none of us want to buy second-hand undies, our bodies change, and then there is the expected wear and tear, bodily fluids, period stains, etc!). It is also size inclusive which was extremely important to me (UK 6-22) / (US 2-18) / (EU 34-50). It is designed by women, for women. 

What were the objectives of the collaboration? What did you want customers to experience that they maybe haven’t elsewhere?
Making the choice to buy sustainable underwear that is 95 per cent biodegradable feels like a small step in the grand scheme of things but has a real impact in terms of our individual carbon footprint. The numbers speak for themselves: The average woman owns 34 pairs of knickers, and doctors say you should really change them every 12-24 months… So we all will go through approximately 1,000 pairs of knickers throughout our life and less than 7% of underwear is sustainably sourced. So, it makes sense to shop for underwear that is as eco-friendly as possible. I hope we can educate consumers without being preachy, by empowering them to know how they can make better choices. The ultimate goal is to encourage women to shop for underwear in a more purposeful and sustainable way. Buy less, buy better—because you cannot buy underwear second hand!

What is your favourite piece in the collection? How will you be wearing and styling it?
To be honest I have no favourites, the whole point is it is simply underwear, you put it on in the morning before going about your day, and hopefully you don’t need to think about it after that. We have too many important decisions to be making every day to also be worried about how to style our underwear. The idea was to create lovely, soft pieces that make you feel good. That said, I do have a soft spot for the chocolate brown range, and the new thong.

Lingerie and underwear have become more than a wardrobe essential, but a style-defining item. How does underwear impact your style today and what role does it play in the act of getting dressed for you? 
For me it depends on what am doing: In my everyday life, my underwear needs to be comfortable and invisible, but also, my knickers and undergarments need to make me happy. It’s the first thing that I will put on in the morning after my shower so it’s nice to know I don’t have to think about it and can just grab a pair and go. 

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What, to you, makes for good underwear?
Comfort is number one, always. It needs to be soft. It needs to be easy. And then the fact it’s pretty is an added bonus that sparks joy especially on cold winter mornings like these. 

In fashion, the word “basics” means different things to different people. What do you consider your basics and wardrobe staples to be? 
To me, a “basic” is something that you will be wearing a lot. Basics are different for everyone because we all have different aesthetics. For me its white tees, tank tops and cardis, but also great jeans and a biased cut dress. 

Which piece of clothing, outfit or trend do you find most liberating to wear, and why? 
Baggy jeans, because I never feel tight in them, but I also love the way they look. If you run into me in Notting Hill, I’ll probably be in denim and a messy bun. 

What’s the most-loved piece in your wardrobe?
I have an insane collection of vintage dresses. I could never pick a favourite, they’re all so special to me. [John] Galliano for Dior and Tom Ford for Gucci are my ultimate guilty pleasures.

Do you have any big fashion regrets? An outfit you remember wearing that you never would now.
I sort of regret anything that was very trend based. In retrospect, the only outfits I think don’t look like me are the ones where I leaned too far into a trend of the moment. Not that I “regret” it, but I do like to remind myself that those outfits are the one you question a few months later. It’s a good reminder to let trends pass by and only dip in when it feels right. 

Aside from your own outfits, is there an outfit worn by a celebrity or fellow content creator that lives in your mind rent-free?
I’ve just watched the Beckham documentary and [it’s] EVERY SINGLE ONE of Victoria’s—but also, let’s give credit where it’s due, his [David Beckham’s] outfits were amazing. I think back then I was brainwashed by the media and my parents into thinking they were “too much” but all I can say is I would rewear any one of those looks now in full… And coerce my husband into it, too!

Do you ever feel like you’re in a style rut? If so, how do you snap out of it?
Yes, very often. Whenever it happens, I look at old pap photographs of celebrities in airports. It’s my favourite kind of inspo because it’s back then they didn’t have stylists, so you get a much better sense of how they used to dress. It’s also very easy to recreate as these are outfits composed with bits that we all have in our closets: Jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets, great layering techniques, and so on. My favouritesare Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, the Olsen twins, Elizabeth Hurley.

We’ve seen so many unlikely throwback trends come back over the last few years—is there a “old” trend you don’t think will ever be popular again? 
No. I think everything comes in cycles and one generation’s ick is another generations’ hit.

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There’s a lot of stereotypes attached to French-girl style—do you adhere to any of them? 
To me the best thing about French style is that it’s very personal and consistent. You don’t need to own or buy new things as a status symbol to make an impact. In fact, the opposite is true, and the more you refine your own signature silhouette, the more street cred you will get. It’s something I try to remind myself as soon as I start salivating in front of the latest runway collections.

As a French girl living in London, what do you think the key components of British style are?
British style is one of the best things about living here. People really allow themselves to just exist, and wear whatever makes them happy on that day without worrying about what others will think. It’s super freeing. 

You started out your career studying law before you moved into the realm of chronicling your style. What advice do you have for some who wants to change paths in a similar way? 
Work hard, speak to everyone around you about your hopes and dreams, do not write anything off as beneath you, be prepared to learn, change your mind, be wrong, but ultimately trust your instincts and make a leap of faith. 

If someone were to say to you “I want to become an influencer”, what would you say back to them? 
Aim instead to create a world, find an audience through your work, or your point of view. Becoming an influencer should not be the end goal, it’s not a job in itself. 

Could you see yourself navigating into another career? If so, what would that be? 
Well, I’m currently writing a book so that means entering a whole new industry and with that I really hope will come new opportunities. Time will tell. 

Sustainability continues to be a growing concern in the fashion industry. What steps have you taken to make your fashion choices and work are sustainable? 
By wearing my own clothes as much as I can. By shopping second hand, by always giving myself time to think before buying something new. Ultimately, I’m trying to make sure my Instagram is more of an inspiration board and not a shopping page. 

Fashion often intersects with culture and social issues. How do you use your platform to address important topics or advocate for change? 
I don’t exist in a vacuum and although I work in fashion I refuse to live in the bubble. I’ve always used my voice and been vocal. It gets harder as you gain more followers as the stakes are higher, but I ultimately believe in being myself and sharing my thoughts as I would in the real world. 

Beyond fashion, what are some of your other passions and interests that people might not know about? 
Music really is the big one for me. Opera, techno, the West End—I know every musical off by heart, but I am also a club rat and took my girlfriends to Berlin for my bachelorette. I am never too far from the dancefloor on a night out. Music to me is the ultimate language, the thing that links us all. I could not live without it. But my ultimate dream is to get invited to [appear on] Strictly [Come Dancing]. I want to learn how to quickstep like Ginger Rodgers. 

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Next Up: The Winter 2023/2024 Fashion Trends That Really Matter

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