Tuesday 25 April 2017

Iconic fashion in film: Jean Seburg in Breathless

American actress Jean Seberg (1938 - 1979) by a photograph of herself in a publicity still for 'A Bout De Souffle' ('Breathless'), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1960. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actress Jean Seberg (1938 - 1979) by a photograph of herself in a publicity still for 'A Bout De Souffle' ('Breathless'), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1960. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sinead Van Kampen

The already iconic Oscar nominated Black Swan costume designs (see Jim Carrey dressed as a black swan on Saturday Night Live) have inspired us at Independent Woman to ask ourselves what are the most stylish films of all time?

Jean Seburg in Breathless

It was the hairstyle that inspired Mia Farrow and Twiggy's famous crop, but for the actress Jean Seburg her signature look came about entirely by accident.

Picked from over 18,000 hopefuls in a competition for a studio contract that dovetailed as a publicity stunt, the 17-year-old newcomer cropped her dark blonde hair to play the role of Joan of Arc. Delighted with the hair and disenchanted with Hollywood, after poor reviews Seburg finally packed her bags for Paris to try her luck in French Cinema.

Finding her unique sense of style more to their liking, Seburg was picked up by France's coolest exponents of new wave cinema and was soon cast to play the role of Patricia Franchini in Jean Luc Godard's classic Breathless.

Although the film was hailed as the very definition of French chic on its release in 1959, 52 years later it was the unplanned wardrobe of the American actress which has assured the film it's place in fashion history. Her legacy is everywhere from Ralph Lauren to Burburry and she single handedly made ballet flats and stripes the staple of the preppy wardrobe.

Seburg was neither a great actress nor a great model, yet for the time and the place her boyish take on Parisian chic became the perfect contrast to the Hollywood peroxide and everyone from Alexa Chung to Emma Watson now walks in her gamine shadow.

Despite the film being a reflection of the ugly side of crime, it is the simple style of Jane Seburg skipping through the streets of Paris that has given Breathless a lasting identity.

Signature look: Cropped hair, Breton shirts and ballet flats

Finest moment: The Herald Tribune jumper - achingly cool

In a phrase: "When the French say a second, they mean five minutes."

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