They say French women have always been a mystery. In literature and in film they are portrayed in a favorable light. Their exquisite perfume saturates our senses; their seductive looks and husky voices come together to create the perfect body. Only they seem capable of turning heads when they walk into a room and stopping traffic as they walk down the street.
They captivate the world with their perfect silhouette and their gracious moves, leaving us with thousands of questions after they walk away. The women who live in the fashion capital of the world have mystified artists and writers for centuries. They are the true muses of fashion and art.
The French woman is an exquisite fusion between elegance and histrionic art. She is immersed in a world of innovation and beauty, which provides her with a sense of glamour and theatricality. Her distinctive features and style make her synonymous of refinement, grace, and sophistication.
The mystery surrounding her can only be appreciated, but never replicated in full.
Throughout the years, and under the influence of hundreds of fashion trends, only the women who have lived and breathed in the capital of fashion can give us a lesson in true elegance and dramatic glamour. These 10 women defied the concept of femininity, became film stars, fashion icons, and great thinkers:
An audacious and fearless woman, Jeanne was the center of attention in the film industry of the sixties. Orson Welles described her as the most incredible actress of her time.
She is known worldwide for her performance as Amélie. Although her role as a shy girl was outstanding, Audrey Tautou has proved that her personality and talent are more than the fictional character. Tautou’s doe eyes, melancholic aura, and relaxed, yet fashionable outfits make her a role model.
Simone de Beauvoir
A woman who combined femininity and intellect and never cared too much about fashion . The most controversial thinker in France was and still is an example of how a woman can be classy.
The legendary designer who broke every fashion rule., she was ahead of her time, a quality that took her to experiment with knitwear. She created the Poor Boy Sweater, which was featured on the cover of French Elle magazine. She embodies innovation, and her legacy will always be remembered.
The woman with the perfect silhouette was always side by the side with Yves Saint Laurent. Rebellious and androgynous are the best words to describe her. She broke the gender rules of the Parisian scene in the sixties by questioning the meaning of masculinity and femininity when it came to clothing. Betty not only inspired Saint Laurent, she was also a Chanel model.
She was also a close friend of YSL. Catherine was an icon of the fashion industry and was a spokesperson of European glamour in the Americas. According to her, women only need to be natural and own a good pair of shoes.
With long blonde locks or with a short brunette pixie cut, Brigitte Bardot always turned heads wherever she went. One of the many reasons she was a great actress was her broad range of emotions; she could cry as quickly as she could laugh. Talent and beauty were qualities that will never run out of fashion.
She is the embodiment of contemporary French cinema, as well as a fashion icon. She has a simple, yet elegant style, which Hollywood desperately tries to emulate. She is a trendsetter and a multifaceted actress who represents France in the best possible way.
As the daughter of Jane Birkin and Jacques Doillon, Lou inherited the très chic from her famous parents. Nevertheless, she has made a name for herself by breaking the rules. “It’s better not to look your best so that people can imagine that the best is really much better,” she states. She has proven that fashion can be found in all places. Good humor and confidence are the day-to-day accessories of this young French woman.
A melancholy look and an elegant outfit are the most remembered characteristics of Edith Piaf. Of course, her voice and dramatic performances are also unforgettable. She was one of the first women who established the femme fatale look with her black dresses and heels, and her contrasting makeup. She was the woman who taught us to have our hearts in our sleeve.
She is better known as Coco. The mademoiselle who defied La Belle Époque couldn’t be left out of this list for obvious reasons. She was the one who, in a way, invented the modern fashion industry. She was the first one to provide women from all over the world what they needed to be chic: gowns, hats, perfumes, and make up, all under the signature of her legendary fashion house. She spent her life transforming and changing the concept of femininity into something powerful, brimming with meaning. She experimented with an androgynous style, “masculine fabrics,” and even tanning. Coco Chanel was and is responsible for most of what we see in today’s fashion; she taught both men and women that “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
They are the ones who inspire the best fashion designers and who continue to be the epitome of all that is delicate, beautiful, and classy in this world. Their sophistication continues to show us that it is not the outfit what makes a woman elegant, but her attitude.