Monday, July 22, 2013

Cinema Style--Romy Schneider's Sleek Summer Style Courtesy of Courreges in LA PISCINE

Summer is unquestionably my favorite time of the year and I always celebrate on GlamAmor with a little cinema style.  One year I dove into the life of bathing beauty Esther Williams and her impact on swimsuit design and fashion.  Another year I marveled at Marilyn Monroe as she flaunted her fabulous figure in swimwear, which she modeled throughout her career.  And because there's little I love as much as lounging poolside on a sultry summer day, this year I bring you the beachy glamour of Jacques Deray's La Piscine (1969).    

The French-Italian film focuses on four people--one couple (Romy Schneider and Alain Delon) and a father and daughter (Maurice Ronet and Jane Birkin)--who holiday together at a villa along the French Riviera.  The South of France was first put on the map in 1956 with Roger Vadim's classic And God Created Woman, which was set in Saint-Tropez.  It starred a then relatively unknown Brigitte Bardot and turned the siren into a superstar.  As a result, the Cote d'Azur then became the location of choice for other French movies of the late 1950s and 1960s.  Interestingly, these films also showcased costumes created by the finest French fashion designers.  And God Created Woman featured the frisky Brigitte in Pierre Balmain.  In Bonjour Tristesse (1958), Jean Seberg battled Deborah Kerr in Hubert de Givenchy.  Yves Saint Laurent practically launched his career dressing muse Catherine Deneuve in both Belle de Jour (1967) and La Chamade (1968).  And in La Piscine, costumes are by the great Andres Courreges.  

Part of what makes La Piscine so fascinating is that it is a cavalcade of Courreges classics.  As a minimalist, modernist, and often a futurist, he was an important part of 1960s fashion.  He became known for geometric shapes and silhouettes that stood away from the body rather than hugging it.  And the lengths of his dresses went to extremes, whether very long (maxis) or very short (both he and Mary Quant are credited with making the mini).  Courreges was associated with vibrant colors as well, mostly in a primary palette.  Green.  Blue.  Yellow. Red.  You can see examples of this in his clothes for another Cote d'Azur classic Two for the Road (1967).  White may have been his favorite color, though; he started his line in 1961 with a trouser suit and Little White Dress, and you'll see several samples of white in this 1969 film as well.  Swimwear was even a specialty of Courreges, so how apropos for producers to invite him to costume La Piscine.

Three of the film's international lead actors--Austria's Romy Schneider, France's Alain Delon, and England's Jane Birkin--are equally fascinating.  Adding to the intrigue of La Piscine is that the plot onscreen, which includes sexual jealousy, somewhat mirrored that offscreen.  Romy and Alain had been engaged in real life; their relationship lasted from 1958 to 1963, ending when Delon was caught in an affair with Nico (of The Velvet Underground).  But despite their breakup, the former lovers always remained great friends and their chemistry as co-stars is stronger than ever in La Piscine.  All three stars were at their peaks of popularity when the film was released and today are considered icons in the world of fashion.  Though I focus on Romy in this piece, you'll also see some serious Birkin style such as a signature robe trapeze mini dress.  

As I frequently discuss, there are several ways that costume design is interconnected with fashion design.  One way is that many costume designers started and/or ended their careers in fashion.  Another--such as the case of La Piscine--is that sometimes fashion designers would design for film.  Andres Courreges' costuming for these characters is a capsule collection of modern 1960s French style.  That said, one cannot help but see their timelessness as well, and the impact they've made on our American classics.  Fashion designers Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Jenna Lyons (of J. Crew) are all examples of those who have been influenced by La Piscine.  The swimsuits alone continue to inspire design in companies from Eres to Roxy.  Even Romy's makeup--the bronzed skin, smoky lined eyes, and nude toffee-colored lips--appears all over today's fashion runways and advertising campaigns.  There is a lot to appreciate and it all helps you understand the significance of this incredibly stylish film.

Dive into La Piscine for yourself and see why I am so smitten with Romy's sleek and sensual style.  Happy Summer!

Marianne (Romy Schneider) wears swimsuits of only white or black, such as this halter one-piece
accessorized with a thin tortise-shell headband and bronzed makeup

Romy struts around the pool in a black halter bikini
before the admiring eyes of her former lover Alain Delon

Eventually Marianne is also under the admiring eyes of houseguest and former lover Harry (Maurice Ronet)
as his daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin) looks on

Another stunning suit--absolutely adore the simplicity of this white one-piece
with thin straps and a deep back

In contrast, model-actress Birkin wears a fashion-forward white bikini by Courreges with crochet coverup...
no wonder Delon doesn't know where to look

Marianne ponders her passion for Jean-Paul in this cream colored silk dress
with my favorite--a low back

An example of preppy inspiration from this movie--tucked-in blouse with turned up collar,
navy flat front pants, matching espadrilles, woven tote, and tortise-shell sunglasses

My love for vintage cars is satisfied as well in La Piscine...houseguest Harry drives a Maserati
and a row of other great European cars line up for the big party at Marianne's

Courreges loved to experiment with fabrics and Romy sparkles in her tank dress at the party

This green silk gown (again, backless) is a great example of the boxier cut and bright colors beloved by Courreges...
note how the look has been made more beachy with light blue espadrilles

An updo is paired with diamond earrings and bronzed beach glamour,
a look that is repeated time and time again on today's fashion runways

Jealousy builds among the group and hits its height at their private party

When the drama intensifies, Marianne is dressed in a lot of innocent white...
both Birkin and Schneider in a signature robe trapeze by Courreges

Classic Courreges--the final outfit of the film is a timeless solid white A-line shift dress,
which is styled with highly edited delicate accessories (love the sunglasses, above)

The cast of La Piscine says adieu
from the film's famous pool on the French Riviera


The Lady Eve said...

What a nice coincidence - I’ve been revisiting Romy Schneider and Alain Delon onscreen lately. Notably - “Purple Noon/Plein soleil” (1960) in which he starred and she had a cameo, “Le combat dans l’ile” (1962) in which Romy starred with Jean-Louis Trintignant.

My first glimpse of Romy came with 1965’s “What’s New, Pussycat?” that star-studded (Peter O’Toole, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Romy, Capucine, Ursula Andress - and a Richard Burton cameo) Swingin’ ‘60s romp. Have loved her ever since.

I haven’t seen “La Piscine,” but will now. Passion (and fashion) poolside on the sunny Riviera with Romy, Alain and Jane Birkin + Courreges…sounds like a delicious diversion for a summer afternoon. Thank you, Kimberly!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Patricia! And what a coincidence indeed...isn't that funny? Great minds clearly think alike. I've been going through a French film revival at my home lately, which has conveniently been supplemented by TCM as well (e.g. Truffaut Fridays). You've now whet my appetite to see the earlier works of Romy and Alain as well.

I forgot that Romy was in WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT! How funny. I'll have to check that out again, too.

You will love LA PISCINE. It is sexy. I'm going to watch it again soon. Let me know what you think when you do. :)

Marline said...

I can't believe I've never seen this film!! Eh bien, I'll have to dash a la biblioteque and rent it! I love the clean simplicity if these fashions, Kimberly, merci bien for introducing them to me! Bisous, Kay

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Kay! And don't feel bad...I was way late to the LA PISCINE party, too. I saw it and thought, "Why haven't I seen this before?!" I mean, the style is so aligned with my own. I love its minimalism, right down to the edited accessories for a sportier look and the bronzed beachy makeup. So good. Can't wait to watch it again!

Christian Esquevin said...

Kimberly - thanks for highlighting this film and Romy Schneider. She was much loved in France and mourned at her early death. She made a great match with Alain Delon - on and off the screen. Jane Birkin was fun too, the muse for Serge Gainsbourg and their provocative song "Je t'aime,"
the melody of which always comes readily to mind.

Melissa Clark said...

Hi Kimberly! Great post, as always. "La Piscine" is a perfect film to discuss in the summer heat. I watched it last year when it popped up in my "Recommended for You" list on Netflix and found it so mesmerizing. It's very sexy and dark, and I loved the evocative music by Michel Legrand, who also wrote the music for the original "Thomas Crown Affair".

Best of all was the style of it - loads of Riviera chic! I can see why it continues to be an inspiration for fashion designers and advertisers. Dior used the movie for some recent commercials, as a matter of fact. Just goes to show, nothing they come up with today outshines the glamour of classic movies!

Hope you're doing well and enjoying the summer. :)


Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Christian! I just watched an interesting bio pic on Serge and fun to see the relationship of he and Jane Birkin. Their song has been used in countless places, likely without people even really knowing it's them. And Romy I just adore now. Plan on watching more films with her, starting with the others with Alain Delon. Great to hear from you...miss you!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Melissa! What great comments. Loved what you had to say and that you gave a shout out to the music. I enjoyed that as well, and thanks for sharing that he also did THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Very interesting. You're quite right that they have a similar mood to them and those relationships.

And thanks for sharing that commercial--I can't believe that they simply used footage from LA PISCINE itself for the ad! It's certainly also inspired the styling of photo/film shoots for other ones.

Great to hear from you and hope you're enjoying the summer, too! :)

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