June 25th 2010 marks the re-release of one of my all-time favourite films for style. That seemingly effortless yet iconic, feminine yet gamine, simple yet beautifully constructed Parisian style which we all covet. Look at girls walking past you on the street today and you can witness the enduring fashionable influence that is Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle (or Breathless). We can particularly thank one girl (its leading lady): Jean Seberg. How can you not adore her pixie-like, tomboyish hair-cut, archetypal striped Breton tops, printed t-shirts, trilby hats and summery, collared dresses?
All such Seberg-inspired items are best-sellers in vintage stores and reappear on the catwalks season after season. The fact that this stylish actress was American, should be encouragement for the fellow non-Frenchies among us. No doubt this re-release (see here for London showing times) will catapult that search for the elusive ‘French chic’ back into our consciousness. Luckily, there are ways to re-create the look. Courtesy of Rodarte,The New York Herald Tribune t-shirt worn by Seberg in the film, is available at London’s Dover Street Market or Barneys in NYC. You can also buy several logo/message t-shirts from worldwide French label, Agnès B. Or try APC’s Summer 2010 (now) sale or Day Birger Et Mikkelsen for the nautical, Breton jersey. Don’t forget to visit Anthropologie for shirt dresses and why not take yourself to the next Frock Me! vintage fair. While we’re talking vintage, if you happen to be in the US you should see RUCHE which sells several charming creations that would have made Seberg proud. Or which would look perfect today, wandering around the Champs-Élysées.
Of course, fashion isn’t the only must-see in Godard’s cult 1960 film (although, before I stop, male readers/partners should really look to the male lead played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, for the masculine version of Seberg’s cool, sexy, understated glamour). Alongside stylish clothes, lies an unforgettable romance, gangster plotline (or sub-plot?), homage to Paris and Jazz and a ‘free’ cinematic style which broke all conventional Hollywood storytelling rules. Ushering in French New Wave cinema, Godard employed techniques which included shooting with a hand-held camera and frequent jump-cuts. I would love to hear your thoughts on the film!