To honour Fashion Week here are some Frencheccentric trendsetters of yesteryear and today worth taking note of. Starting with:
Nightclub performer Josephine Baker might have been American by birth, but she came as close to being a proper Parisian as a foreigner could get, becoming a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur after World War II. (Charles de Gaulle himself bestowed the honor upon her.) Baker first arrived in Paris in 1925, gaining acclaim for her sultry dances at the Folies Bergère. Her costumes were as famous as her moves, too—her banana skirt ensembles inspired a Prada collection, while her sheer crystal dresses were a reference for Rihanna’s unforgettable see-through CFDA look. Today, you’ll find traces of Baker in some of Spring’s more soigné slip dresses.
French actress Anouk Aimée is perhaps most famous for her Golden Globe winning role in Claude Lelouch’s 1966 A Man and a Woman, but her offscreen style was just as noteworthy as her career-making role. In her ’60s heyday, Aimée preferred sultry yet simple pieces like cropped sweaters, fitted dresses, and flats. She was never one for accessories, choosing to complement her looks with a flick of winged eyeliner and expertly arched brows.
Chanteuse Sylvie Vartan rolled with the right crowd in ’60s Paris, calling Yves Saint Laurent one of her closest collaborators. That relationship bore some of the decade’s best outfits, like the two pairs of crystal-studded jeans Vartan and her then-husband, Johnny Hallyday, wore to perform a duet. Off the stage, she favored minidresses with girlish collars, Mary Janes, and plush furs, helping to define France’s nascent yé-yé girl movement. (Think of yé-yé style as the French equivalent of mod.) A just-released book on her taste, Le Style Vartan, chronicles her outfits in immense detail—all the better for re-creating them today.
The name Sonia Rykiel might conjure up visions of thin, patterned knits, but the wardrobe of the designer herself is much more varied. As one of Paris’s Rive Gauche trendsetters of the ’70s, Rykiel built up a reputation of being the woman with the best—and biggest—coat in the room. Underneath the voluminous outerwear, you’d find a mix of gamine pieces like jumpsuits and mannish trousers, styled with some of her namesake knits. There was a Sonia Rykiel store for years in Vancouver on Burrard Street but sadly it didn’t make it and closed shop – it did not appeal to the Vancouver crowd.
Niki de Saint Phalle
Sculptor and artist Niki de Saint Phalle made some of the most vibrant works of the ’60s through ’80s, which have just been honored in an exhibition in Paris’s Grand Palais. When she wasn’t wearing a caftan that rivaled the colors and patterns of her artwork, De Saint Phalle preferred simple, neutral pieces that she jazzed up with bold accessories like berets, pendants, and armfuls of bracelets.
Today’s runways have made a habit of applying highbrow taste to thrift store finds—something Vanessa Paradis has been doing for decades. The singer has been sporting slip dresses with shaggy furs, bohemian maxi skirts with boyish blazers, and skinny jeans with blouson tops since the ’90s, and continues to hone her eclectic style to this day. No wonder her daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, has such good taste at only 16.
Model-turned-actress Aymeline Valade’s Saint Laurent tuxedo at the Cannes Film Festival was the stuff of red carpet dreams. Valade’s off-duty style is just as memorable, making everything from a Lacoste polo shirt to a dainty Chloé dress look all her own.
These women are all fine examples of how to embody personal STYLE
Photos: Getty Images
Source: Vogue Runway