French sex symbol, singer, and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot celebrates her 80th birthday today. The blonde bombshell actress—who once became the official face of France’s national emblem in 1969, Marianne—is known for her effortless style. Bardot retreated from the spotlight more than 40 years ago, but thankfully we have her music and film projects to pour over for style tips. Here are ten of Bardot’s most iconic fashion moments.
Bardot’s bikini at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival turned heads. The outfit won a spot on our Unforgettable Pop Culture Bikinis list:
Brigitte Bardot’s sexpot image was born on the beaches of Cannes during the sixth year of the esteemed festival. The 18-year-old unknown actress was photographed by paparazzi during the 1953 French fest. Her appearance almost singlehandedly reinvented the image of the starlet as a liberated, natural, and spontaneous woman. Unfussy hair, bare feet, and a playful bikini put her in the public eye, and the actress rose to stardom three years later in Roger Vadim’s Et Dieu… créa la femme (And God Created Woman).
Roger Vadim’s 1956 erotic drama …And God Created Woman established Bardot’s image as a sex kitten of the silver screen. There wasn’t much to her outfit in the famously sultry dance scene, but her green skirt and black leotard emphasized her character’s carefree attitude.
In 1967, the Brigitte Bardot Show became a platform for the actress to perform her hit singles in musical short films that were elaborate productions. It was there that she debuted “Bonnie and Clyde,” performed with provocateur Serge Gainsbourg. The actress dressed as the legendary gun moll, Bonnie Parker. When a beret-wearing Bardot utters “Bunnnie,” we can’t help but love her even more.
The most psychedelic of the Serge Gainsbourg collaborations, Bardot’s experimental, spaced out pop track “Contact” was augmented by an avant-garde backdrop and metal costume.
Just say yes to leggy, leather-clad Bardot go-go dancing and tossing hair flips on a motorcycle. Watch the video here.
Today’s superheroes can’t compare to the glorious absurdity of Bardot as a slinky superhero (shades of Jean-Claude Forest’s heroine Barbarella), squeaking out sound effects.
Critics hated Brigitte Bardot and Claudia Cardinale as outlaw sisters set on avenging their father’s death in 1971’s Les pétroleuses, but fashion-savvy filmgoers loved Bardot as a black-clad cowgirl.
Two of French cinema’s sexiest, most beloved actresses as carnival showgirls. Bardot and Jeanne Moreau in 1965’s Viva Maria!.
From the New Yorker on the essence of style in Godard’s films—like 1963’s Contempt:
Godard has always had a singular personal style (as seen in archival TV interviews) that, for young movie-lovers in the sixties, was an inspiration along with his movies. So it is with Godard’s characters, to whose clothing and bearing Godard has always paid close attention. . . . The style statements of his sixties films were as crucial to their generational impact as their formal and thematic innovations.
“Shalako transplants her to the old west, but Bardot does not fit the mold of the helpless woman in distress,” writes Justine Smith. “Even her costuming suggests power, the presence of pants and hats throughout. Even her dresses suggest a matriarchal power, and though Bardot is anything but matronly, the suggestion remains.”