If she hadn’t ended up on the cover of Elle, she might have continued to study music and ballet at the Conservatoire in Paris. But she became an actress and, with the film And God Created Woman (Et Dieu… créa la femme, 1956), the BB phenomenon took off. “It was post-war France: quiet, sleepy and conformist. She shook it all up”, said writer Henry-Jean Servat about his friend, Brigitte Bardot. She had already stirred up something in the French society when she appeared on the Elle cover: she was barely 16 and “she represented something that had never had its place before in society or in fashion: that of the jeune fille“, remembers French fashion historian Nicole Parrot.
The perfection of a button-front shirt dress, a versatile classic that will never go out of style.
Brigitte Bardot looked like a goddess and had such a physical presence, the magnificent posture of a dancer. She was no studio-manufactured star, she lived the way she pleased, throwing conventions away, and she invented a fashion all of her own: it was this freedom that made her so provocative. Much like Brigitte in real life, Juliete, her character in And God Created Woman, directed by her husband at the time, Roger Vadim, is an uninhibited young woman, exuding insouciant sensuality, who loves freedom and independence and who scandalizes the small fishing village of Saint Tropez. Saint Tropez became a favourite jet set destination and BB became an international sex symbol and Europe’s answer to Marilyn Monroe.
With long, golden, artfully tousled hair (she invented the choucroute, the ruffled and back-combed hair style, which became a trend in the 1960s and is still imitated today-the secret is in the expert build-up of layers, they say), feline eyes with black eyeliner and heavy mascara and sulky lips emphasized by a slightly darker pencil, wearing clothes that reflected her character, seemingly innocent, yet extraordinary sexy, the myth of Brigitte Bardot was born.
Designed by French fashion designer Pierre Balmain, whose clothes were of a perfect simplicity, slender, elegant lines, yet representing the “architecture of movement,” Juliete’s clothes show off her silhouette, as everything is body conscious or unbuttoned, but still leaving enough to the imagination.
The red boatneck wiggle dress, one of the most beautiful red dresses I have ever seen. The sheath dress is one of Balmain’s signature styles.
The trench coat is a must in every wardrobe, even for someone who lives in a beach resort.
To her white lace wedding dress Juliete wears flats. Just as Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot championed flats, but on her feet ballet shoes seemed almost transgressive.
Juliete is seen in jeans and t-shirt, walking barefoot on the streets of her village, just as Brigitte would do in real life, causing a sensation when she walked in her bare feet in a restaurant in Paris. I love how Juliete uses clothes to express her libertine self. On the saturated background of the seaside village, painted in bright primary colours, she feels as free as the proximity of the sea can make you feel.
A pencil skirt has more power of attraction than any mini skirt.
Suggestively dressed in black, prior to a turning-point in plot.
Hardly anything is sexier than a woman in his shirt.
Instead of plunging necklines, Bardot wore tight polo necks and t-shirts and oozed sensuality while being covered.
Again in a shirt dress.Unbuttoned skirt, rolled-up sleeves.
The scene in which she dances barefoot and dishevelled, hair loose, skin glowing with sweat, waist-high unbuttoned skirt to the sound of carioca, became an instant and defining moment in the history of cinema. In And God Created Woman, Brigitte Bardot changed what was deemed acceptable to portray on film. It was only the 1950s and she shocked and enchanted the whole world.
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photos: screen stills from the film And God Created Woman, captured by me
Bibliography: the book A Matter of Style: Intimate Portraits of 10 Women Who Changed Fashion,