Style in film: La piscine

When it comes to what’s nonchalance and laid back glamour, nothing beats a French film set on the French Riviera. As summer is in full swing, I thought it would be nice to have a glimpse at the styles in the iconic film La piscine (The Swimming Pool, 1969). I have previously written about it, but only briefly and not using my own screen stills. Directed by Jacques Deray and starring stunning Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Jane Birkin, the film teases the viewer with a relative bohemian atmosphere and calmness of the surroundings and swimming pool only to reveal a suspenseful plot, with dramatic eye contact, sexual tension, a subtle intensity of the characters hinting at a ménage-à-quatre relationship, eventually taking a dark turn.

The costumes, perfectly embodying the style of the 60s, were designed by André Courrèges, whose clothes are considered to be magical in their simplicity. ‘My style accompanies a silhouette, a way of moving through life.’ In 1950 Courrèges was apprenticed to Balenciaga, whom he considers his mentor and worked with him for ten years. It was Monsieur Balenciaga who taught him, more than anyone else, that style was ‘the combination of technique, aesthetics and finishing into a single harmonious result’. In 1961, he opened his own fashion house, Maison de Courrèges. Since 1996, his wife, Coqueline, a Balenciaga pupil herself, has been the artistic director of the maison.

The simple, elegant, uncluttered clothes in La Piscine exude timelessness: ‘It is important to distinguish style and fashion. Fashions change; style perpetuates itself through a recognizable personality of its own’, says the designer. Romy and Jane are wearing only white and black swimming suits, in one or two pieces.

No summer wardrobe without white and other classic colour – like pale pink or blue – shirts, whether fitted, more relaxed or boyfriend style (as Romy is wearing in a photo below). The woven basket is the only bag required when vacationing at the seaside. Dress code: mini. Courrèges was the one who introduced the mini skirt to France.

While Romy’s free-spirited wardrobe carries a very French, relaxed glamour quality, reflecting her self-confidence and womanhood, a very young and gamine Jane Birkin sports a pretty, preppy style (with the gingham print as a center piece). Birkin’s character is part tomboy, part temptress, but there is no doubt whose version of a woman is more alluring.

I love the pale hues Romy is wearing. And, of course, the bare back detail.

In a crocheted cover-up, a perfect example of the innocent-sexy style Jane Birkin has become famous for.

In flared jeans and simple white t-shirt, another look synonymous with Jane Birkin.

Romy in a monogrammed blue shirt. A style staple. Collar and sleeves turned up (how else?) and paired with navy blue trousers. In the ’60s André Courrèges became the man who put the women into trousers: dispensed with front pleats and cuffs, side pockets, fly-fronts and even belt-tab waists. She wears espadrilles. As she does with the open back maxi dress below, a très chic combination, no?

Romy is wearing a simple trapeze-shaped dress, one of Courrèges’s signature designs, with a geometric pattern. Jane Birkin in another crocheted mini dress, this time in black.

In white trousers, yellow polo t-shirt and espadrilles.

A subtle floral print shirt.

In the final act Romy is dressed in a white shift dress, the silhouette most iconic of the 1960’s mod look. Plain and sophisticated at the same time.

A flawless and ageless summer wardrobe guide, La Piscine continues to play an important influence on designers, like Salvatore Ferragamo’s Spring 2011 or Sophie Theallet’s Spring 2012 collections, to name two of the most recent ones.

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photos: screen stills from the film, captured by me; kindly link back to Classiq if you would like to use any of these images; the film was produced by Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC) and Tritone Cinematografica
sources: Fashion Model Directory and the book Courrèges

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