Radiant; Cardigan Royalty

By Katie Dongworth

The Palace of Versailles is the epitome of opulent European royalty. Located 15 miles outside of Paris, the UNESCO World Heritage site is full of wonder. History is written in the palace walls and captured in the renaissance paintings. Glass chandeliers loom over head and candles line the corridors, signifying the décor’s roots in an era long passed. 

The 1,976-acre garden stretches as far as the eye can see in a sea of perfect greenery. Hidden deep within this vast garden stands a statue of Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, the adored director of the King’s Kitchen Garden, created in the late 17th century by the Sun King, Louis XIV. La Quintinie was a master of gardening, transforming the swamp-like land into an array of ground-breaking vegetable patches, fruit trees and microclimates. The garden is still used today, balancing historic and contemporary methods in honour of the innovative spirit of La Quintinie and all under his watchful statue’s eye.  

Versailles-born fashion designer, agnès b, has previously spoken about her love of Versailles’s rich history and in 1979 found surprising inspiration in La Quintinie’s statue. With its neat line of buttons down the front, La Quintinie’s waistcoat captured agnès b’s imagination and led to the creation of her iconic cotton-fleece snap cardigan.

The cardigan was an immediate success, capturing the hearts of women, men and children around the world. The simple concept has had continued success spanning five decades, largely due to its universal appeal and constant evolution. Agnès b has developed this humble cardigan into many different forms. The design has been both long and short, leather and cotton, high collared and round necked, in the form of a dress and always in a range of different colours and patterns. Despite its many variations, the original minimalistic concept has always remained consistent. Much like the Palace of Versailles garden honouring the innovation of La Quinitinie, agnès b manages to honour her historic inspiration by balancing traditional design with inventive contemporary fashion trends.

To celebrate forty years of the snap cardigan, agnès b has released a book featuring gorgeous images illustrating the cardigan’s evolution and a witty commentary by acclaimed French journalist, Sophie Fontanel. The book takes the reader on a journey, through agnès b’s original inspiration in the Palace of Versailles to her now iconic brand that has become the emblem of her successful fashion house.

Following a successful launch night in London, Piccadilly, you can now order the book on agnès b’s website. And while you’re there, why not check out the snap cardigan range for yourself?

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