Aimée in film Lola, 1961.
The myth of the refined French beauty looms over women of any generation. The epitome of class, culture and elegance, women have worshipped the style and cultural contributions of French beauties like Francois Hardy, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Denueve for decades. Of all the French beauties that loom large in fashion and film history, Anouk Aimée, born Nicole Françoise Florence Dreyfus, represents everything that is French allure.
The raven-haired beauty was a friend of Coco Chanel’s who also dressed Aimée for many of her films. Outside of her iconic film appearances, it is through this friendship and working relationship that the essence of the French starlet’s beauty transcends and continues to inspire generation after generation. Every season the most famous man in fashion, Karl Lagerfeld, pays homage to the great history of the house of Chanel. The famed French Fashion house has dressed great artists, beauties and public figures spanning the very early 1900s to present day. At Chanel’s 2016 Pre-Fall showing in December 2015, French film-noir met Italian cinema in a grand event staged at Roman film studio, Cinecittà, where the 1960s film La Dolce Vita was shot among many other greats. It is within this setting that Lagerfeld recreated the streets of Paris and alluded to the house’s history and some of the impressive women Chanel personally dressed herself, like Aimée.
In a 2012 Charlie Rose interview (below), Aimée discussed the many famed directors she worked with, among them Federico Fellini and Claude LeLouch. Aimée shares that when she shot the 1966 French Film A Man and a Woman (directed by LeLouch) one of her most notable performances, she did her own makeup. Even in this time some of the most cultured starlets were taking the indie route to stardom, getting dressed by her friends who just happened to be Coco Chanel, and applying her own makeup for a small production that would touch audiences all over Europe and the United States. It is this ease, natural beauty and spirit of artistic collaboration that makes Aimée such a constant source of sartorial inspiration. Aimée withstands the test of time as not only the epitome of the dark haired French beauty but also a testament to how timeless the Chanel woman is.
Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant in A Man and a Woman, 1966
Anouk Aimée, 1960. (Right: photo by Shahrokh Hatami at Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, Paris)
(L) Anouk wearing a Chanel suit, 1950s.
Aimée by Burt Stern for Vogue, 1965.
(L) Anouk Aimée in film Justine, 1969. (R) Trying on dresses at Pierre Cardin's shop, 1967.
(L) Photo by Henry Clarke, 1965.
(L) Anouk Aimée in film Model Shop, 1969.