Jean-Luc Godard’s movies are among those you will not find in the pages of my blog, simply because I am not a fan of his work. Without getting too much into details, I will just say that one of the reasons is that, when watching his films, my impression has always been that he has made movies for the critics. Ingmar Bergman put it very bluntly: “I’ve never been able to appreciate any of his films, nor even understand them… I find his films affected, intellectual, self-obsessed and, as cinema, without interest and frankly dull…”
That said, let’s go back to what this blog post is all about: this particular look of Anna Karina’s, who was Jean-Luc Godard’s muse and wife at the time of this film, Vivre sa vie (1962). The French New Wave is one source of inspiration that gets revisited by fashion designers time and time again. The realistic approach of the Nouvelle Vague films didn’t have much concern with fashion, many of them resuming to the basic styles of the times, the actors usually wearing their own clothes on screen. I think it’s the nonchalant attitude of the heroines of these films that has had just as much influence on fashion as the actual clothes that they wore. And isn’t it the attitude that matters most?
Danish born Anna Karina was one of the style figures of the French New Wave. In Vivre sa vie, with her porcelain skin, feline eyes, Louise Brooks hair style and chic outfits, always smoking (out if principle, I avoid using images of people smoking on the blog, but this is the film character), she is a young woman of Paris. In her effortlessly thrown cardigan, knee-length skirt, boucle coat and kitten heels, and especially with that careless poise, she channels the Chanel look more accurately than an ad campaign for the brand. An interesting fact is that a chance meeting with Coco Chanel was what made her change her name from Hanne Karin Bayer, resulting in the Anna Karina we know today. Anna’s style, both off and especially on-screen, represented a girlie, distinctly French style which would become synonymous with the youthful freshness of the 60’s, and especially with the 60’s New Wave fashion movement.
More Style in French New Wave films: Jean Seberg in Breathless, Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim, Catherine Deneuve in Mississippi Mermaid
photos: movie stills, Vivre sa vie | Les Films de la Pléiade, Pathé Consortium Cinéma