Nouvelle VagueAugust 31, 2015
We pay homege to Nouvelle Vague in one of the most complex and colourful decades of twentieth century fashion, the 1960s owe a great debt to the stylish women who lived it, either on the streets, at parties, music festivals, or at the flickering silver screens.
Nouvelle Vague: the film glamour of the 1960s
As François Truffaut wrote, “cinema was in the process of becoming a new means of expression on the same level as painting and the novel.” This new means of expression meant that the cinematic stars of the 60s dictated fashion and style quite apart from the previous decades.
Nouvelle Vague-The film stars
Françoise Dorléac, the older and vastly more exciting sister of Catherine Deneuve, was a star of several Nouvelle Vague films alongside Truffaut and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The actress, who tragically died in a car accident when she was only 25, was a promising rising star and the embodiment of the French carefree style.
Abandonment of bourgeois complacency, freedom and adventures on the French Riviera came with a tangled twist of passions and temperaments.
The muse who rocked the Riviera both on and off screen was Brigitte Bardot. Her fresh seaside style, which included breton stripes, micro-shorts, messy beach hair and a perfect pout have remained iconic ever since.
Anna Karina, the ultimate Godard Girl, perfectly reflected the intellectual feminine Parisian style.
The revolutionary politics of des auteurs of French Nouvelle Vague needed a measure of femininity to soften the iconoclastic experimentation of the new cinema: Karina provided perfect emblematic presence. Her take on the 60s style contained sweet floral or polka dot dresses, sailor sweaters, silky red underwear, ballet pumps or mary janes, and inevitable straw hats.
Her present day equivalent is the actress Zooey Deschanel, who carries off a similar geeky-feminine look.
The gamine beauty of Jean Seberg, worn cheerfully and playfully through an array of men’s shirts, cocked hats, oversized coats and with her trademark short crop represents androgynous sweetness that never goes out of fashion.
Compared to French chic, the sultry style of Monica Vitti reflects a different take of the 60s: scorching glares on the outskirts of scorching cities or with the perfect blue Adriatic sea as a backdrop, the unsmiling icon fascinates with her feline freckled face. A perfect 60s flick of the eyeliner and messy beach hair clash beautifully with the existentialist ennui of the Italian 60s cinema.
The yé-yé girls
Up until the 60s, British and continental music were heavily influenced by the Americans; but during the 60s British Beat music bands, such as the Beatles, took over.Yé-yé was the style of pop that emerged in France, Italy and Spain that featured young girls singing pop songs with sexy, deliberately naîve lyrics in French or Italian.
Serge Gainsbourg, who wrote several hits for the yé-yé girls and masterminded some of their stage performances, understood well the allure of the slightly camp schoolgirl / teen style. Although his mentorship was later questioned, the music and the style are still very catchy.
The facets of 60s pop femininity and allure are represented by France’s three most prominent yé-yé girls: France Gall, Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy.
France Gall was a very naive seventeen-year-old who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 with a sweet delivery of baby pop. Her style was that of a pastel-clad schoolgirl singing about love for the first time.
Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy
In contrast, Sylve Vartan was a more sophisticated performer who appeared slightly more in charge, although her appearance was played against the brunette Françoise Hardy, who was often dressed in comparatively more street smart black leather, tailored jackets, bell bottoms and boots.Her look is still fresh today, and contemporary muses such as Alexa Chung work hard to imitate the effortless-seeming style.