Tag Archives: Jean Seberg

Well Hello, Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse - JS black dressI went to see the 1958 movie Bonjour Tristesse in a sparkling new print yesterday and was struck by how stylish it is – in so many more ways than I remembered from seeing it on TV in my teens. Style-wise back then, I couldn’t see past the sublime pixie crop sported by the gamine Jean Seberg – and all I could recall of the film in general was that I didn’t like it much, apart from the theme song (scroll down to hear Juliette Greco singing it in the opening scenes) which has always haunted me. This time, however, I was wowed right from the get-go – by the colourful Saul Bass-designed titles (and Georges Auric music) which announced the film’s style credentials: “accessories by Hermes”. A good sign, surely?

Well, yes. I can’t find the costume designer listed on the Internet Movie Database – and I blinked and missed the credit during the titles (too dazzled by the Bonjour Tristesse - Seberg & Kerr on arrivalHermes mention, perhaps) but I believe it was Givenchy – which just adds to the appeal. Certainly, the first dress we see Seberg wearing – in the black & white sequences that represent the present-day and book-end the main drama – is reminiscent of the “Sabrina” dress that Givenchy designed for Audrey Hepburn to wear in the movie of that name … Bonjour Tristesse certainly required a chic, grown-up wardrobe for its other female star, Deborah Kerr, since she plays a Parisian fashion designer whose creations are worn by both her and the other characters throughout the movie.

I wonder now whether I ever watched beyond the first twenty minutes of the film when I first saw it. They are full of irritating dialogue, and focus on Cecile (Seberg), her unfulfilling social life and her nauseatingly sophisticated relationship with her playboy father (David Niven). I can’t think of many other films Bonjour Tristesse - Seberg & Kerr in casinowhere the look – of the costumes, the stars’ make-up and hair (Deborah Kerr looks particularly striking with soft make-up and flame red hair pinned up in an elegant chignon), their tanned bods and the locations (French Riviera) – has seduced me enough to continue watching something that was otherwise boring or annoying me. But I’m glad I did – for not only was there more style inspiration to soak up as the film unfolded, but I was drawn into the story in a way which I wasn’t when I first saw it. (Oh, and there was a wonderful opportunity to see Martita Hunt, AKA the definitive Miss Havisham, looking glamorous in the casino scene.)

It’s not a great film but it’s worth seeing; a movie based on a French literary classic – which the French should have made themselves. It seems all wrong as a Hollywood film – but it looks a million dollars ..

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Style-o-Meter: August 7


GOING FOR THE CROPJean Seberg - Bonjour Tristesse

So, Beyonce is the latest celebrity to embrace cropped hair – following in the recent footsteps of Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Jessie J. By coincidence, the poster girl for the pixie crop is making a comeback on the big screen this month: Jean Seberg, the beautiful gamine whose best-remembered film, A Bout de Souffle (Breathless), made her a style icon, will be back in cinemas in her 1958 colour movie Bonjour Tristesse. A coming of age story based on Francoise Sagan’s classic novel, it’s mostly of interest for the splendour of the Seberg coiffeur.


This is proving to be a vintage year for hot mascaras: first from Dior, then Chanel and now the latest from Clarins – a replacement for Wonder Lashes. Clarins Be Long Mascara (£21; www.clarins.co.uk) really is more wonderful than its predecessor: with one swipe across the lashes, it transforms them dramatically, making them longer, thicker, well separated and with a curl. There are two shades, Intense Black (which is seriously intense) and limited edition Intense Brown.


Lauder metallicsAh, August – often the summeriest month but the one in which followers of fashion begin to look forward to all things autumnal. The big beauty companies traditionally begin selling their autumn/winter colours in August and one trend that’s been around for a while is taking off in a big way this fall: metallic nails. Chanel launches a lovely metallic pink rose nail varnish in September (its autumn make-up belongs more to the camouflage/sludgy colours movement); it’s Estee Lauder which has this trend nailed, er so to speak, with Estee Lauder Pure Color Vivid Shine Nail Lacquers (£14.50; www.esteelauder.co.uk) – eight new limited edition shades offering deep and pearlised  colour. Faves so far are Midnight Metal and Rose Gold… 



Now that the heatwave is ebbing away, it’s time for the depressing task of auditing the sun cream stains on favourite sun wear – if anyone knows how to remove these marks permanently, please share your secrets!Pebbles Flintstone


Can we please call time on these ridiculous wannabe buns that you  can see on girls’ heads the length and breadth of the country? It’s one thing sporting a magnificent, 1960s-style, bun on the top of one’s bonce – indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if a large bun helped with posture much in the way that balancing books on the head was a favourite trick used in deportment lessons – but it’s another wearing a daft wee top knot/folded back ponytail that would looks like something from the Pebbles Flintstone hair repertoire.


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Style Stories: Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg seems to be having something of a moment just now, thanks partly to her iconic elfin hair-do and also to the 50th anniversary of her most famous (and stylish) film, A bout de souffle (Breathless). It’s always a treat to see the film, but the tantalising “featurette” about Seberg – one of the extra features – is a let-down. So here is a potted biog of the ill-fated actress.

In 1959, when she appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless as the epitome of carefree American-in-Paris chic, Jean Seberg had the world at her feet. Still only 21, she had already been considered a wash-out after her first movie, St Joan, flopped spectacularly, but she seemed to be reborn thanks to the French New Wave.
During the 1960s, she juggled Hollywood roles with offbeat European projects until a series of disasters – in particular, the death of her baby daughter in 1969 – led to her suicide at the age of 41.
As with most things in Jean Seberg’s troubled life, the death of her child – at only three days old – was not what it seems. During her pregnancy, Seberg was heavily involved with the Black Panther movement. She was already under scrutiny by the FBI because of her political ideas, and in 1969 they planted a smear story in the Los Angeles press.
Seven months into her pregnancy, Seberg opened her paper to read the rumour that her baby had been fathered by a Black Panther and not by her husband. In shock, she went into labour and gave birth prematurely. She returned to America to bury her baby and went so far as to allow photographs to be taken of the dead infant so that she could prove she was white.
According to friends, Seberg never recovered. Every year on the anniversary of the baby’s death, she tried to kill herself. At the time of her death, the FBI denied any involvement in the false rumour, but a year after her overdose they admitted their part in the planting of the story.
Incredibly, a musical version of Seberg’s tragic and extremely confused life was staged by the National Theatre in 1983. Peter Hall directed, and Marvin Hamlisch set Christopher Adler’s lyrics to music, but – inevitably – the musical was box-office disaster. Maybe the Seberg jinx has played a part in the non-appearance in a movie version which was much talked about in the 1990s, and was originally intended to star Jodie Foster or Winona Ryder.

* A bout de souffle is out on special edition DVD on the Optimum Home Entertainment label.


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Cool Crops

The combination of the hot weather plus the cool movies I’ve been watching – notably New Wave  classic A Bout de Souffle – has led me to obsess about getting a pixie crop a la Jean Seberg, the tragic American star of the afore-mentioned French film.

Not that she’s the only 1960s movie star whose elfin style is worth emulating. How about Shirley Maclaine with the “do” she sported as Fran Kubelik in the wonderfully bittersweet comedy The Apartment?

Or Mia Farrow’s early sixties flirtation with the gamine look – the style she sported when she married Frank Sinatra.

One of the original continental gamines got in on the act too: Leslie Caron may have put Gigi behind her when she lopped her hair off, but it certainly brought her up to date.

Perhaps I was in a minority, but I adored Kate Moss’s brief dalliance with the pixie crop, around ten years ago. And I still do!

Another 1990s hair style icon is Winona Ryder who was a brilliant poster girl for the elfin crop.

Rising British star Carey Mulligan has been sporting a crop since she started appearing in the magazines but she’s the first to admit she’s not a fan. She looks cute with her short cut but for a seriously sexy take on the style, check out Natalie Portman’s hair.

But only one leading lady has stuck to the style through thick and thin – and made it well and truly her own: Dame Judi Dench. Just put her in a pair of capri pants and a New York Herald Tribune T-shirt, and, voila, you’ve got A Bout de Souffle’s Patricia 40 years on!


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Style on Film: A bout de souffle

It’s 50 years since A bout de souffle (AKA Breathless), one of the New Wave’s most stylish films, was first seen in British cinemas, and to mark the occasion a special edition DVD has just come out on the Optimum label. Playing Patricia, a naive American girl living in Paris, actress Jean Seberg (above, chic in capri pants, with Jean-Paul Belmondo) set a trend with her gorgeous, elfin hair-do and laidback look.  And her habit of lolling around in a man’s shirt…

She’s also seen in some pretty, feminine outfits – notably this demure stripy dress.

But the key to Seberg’s gamine look is the boyish haircut – balanced out by a slick of eyeliner.

And here it is in action … watch and learn!

* A bout de souffle (Optimum Home Entertainment) is out now.


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My Week in Beauty


I may be the one who writes about beauty but my friends are all experts about the areas that particularly concern them.

My pal Shiv is one of my top testers for fake tan and body products; apart from her essentials – mascara and lip gloss – make-up has tended to be much lower down her priority list .

Her skin is so good that she only recently began to feel the need of some sort of coverage to even out dark circles and disguise fine lines – so she turned to the excellent By Terry range.

When I met her on Monday, she was singing the praises not only of the By Terry Touche Veloutee (£29; www.spacenk.co.uk), a concealer/highlighter and cousin to the original Touche Eclat (which Terry de Gunzburg created at YSL), but also of the lady who sold it to her in Space NK.

Shiv went in to buy the shade she had bought before. When the saleswoman realised they didn’t have it, she didn’t try to persuade her to buy something else; instead, she persuaded her to book herself in for a mini-makeover the following weekend.

I’ve not heard the usually cynical Shiv wax so lyrical about a retail experience as she did about the makeover. She was thrilled with the results  and left with a different (and better) shade of the Touche Veloutee,  as well as her first eyeliner pencil in probably about 20 years and a list of make-up she’d like to try.


I spent some time on Tuesday in a bit of a coiffeur quandary. My hair is desperately needing to be coloured and cut but, for the first time in ages, I’m toying with the idea of doing something different with it. It could be that I fancy going for the chop because, suddenly, the ends of my hair are tangling and look like they’re paying the price for my regular colour sessions. It could be that short hair looks so much easier (though I know, from experience, that it isn’t). Or it could have something to do with the fact that, however much she may hate it, I love Oscar-nominated Carey Mulligan’s elfin crop. Though not half as much as I love the original model – as seen on movie actress Jean Seberg (above). Not sure if I’m quite ready to take the plunge but you never know …


Dior’s summer make-up collection arrived on Wednesday morning – and the pinks, peaches and corals are mouthwateringly pretty. Also in the package was Diorshow Extase Mascara (£21.50), which somehow I missed out on when they landed in stores at the end of March.

I can report that, as often happens with mascara, I’m in love again.. This mascara is brilliant for beefing up scraggy lashes and making them look like contenders in the battable stakes. I am fickle when it comes to mascara so we’ll have to see whether I’m as much in love in a couple of weeks as I am now ..


I was writing about foundations on Thursday and, in the course of testing a few different ones, I had a Dorothy moment. In other words, just as Dorothy realises that “there’s no place like home” in The Wizard of Oz, so I realised that there’s no foundation like my old reliable: Clinique Perfectly Real Make-up (£20; www.clinique.co.uk).

It’s not an all-singing, all-dancing base like some of Clinique’s recent offerings, but Perfectly Real is a godsend for women like me, with a less-than-even skin tone, and a complexion which is totally confused in its orientation: it veers between oily, sensitive, dehydrated and dry. Not only does this foundation deal with all these issues, but it also comes in a shade which is a perfect match for my very fair colouring.


It may be the Easter Holidays and Friday is the day I usually look after my twin boys, but I had to book my mum to babysit for long enough for me to sneek into town to meet Melissa, the suitably chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty. After all, she had promised to give me a preview of the new Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Colors (£35), which go on sale in Harvey Nichols on April 24.

This collection of 12 lipsticks marks the talented Mr Ford’s first foray into the world of cosmetics.  Why start with lipsticks? Well, over to him. “There is no more dramatic accessory than a perfect lip,” he says. “It is the focus of the face and it has the power to define a woman’s whole look.”

At £35 a pop, a Private Blend Lip Color does not come cheap, but it’s designed to be the ultimate in luxurious lipstick -as the expensive-looking ivory and gold tubes suggest. The quality is immediately apparent when you apply the lipstick too. Extremely moisturising, it glides on to the lips thanks to such rare ingredients as soja seed extract, Brazilian murumur butter and chamomilla flower oil. My mother has already named a coral-coloured Lip Color as payback for the babysitting job ….

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