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A Tribute to the Sultry French Fashion of Françoise Hardy

by Josie Reaney

Françoise Hardy was a starlet, a fashion icon, the ultimate sad romantic. 

Hardy’s passing on June 11th caused quiet waves, similarly to her own fame and career. She lived her life sensitively and modestly, an ironic poster child for ‘60s pop culture. 

If you've ever searched for 'French style,’ you've undoubtedly come across her profound influence on fashion and our contemporary style.

To give a bit of history, she lived a largely sober life, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and disapproving of casual sex. The one true love for Hardy was surely her music, with a career spanning over five decades and nearly thirty albums to show for it, her creative stamina proved prolific.

Hardy was born in Nazi occupied Paris in 1944, raised by her mother. Her youthful summers spent with family friends in Austria began her love affair with music, where a teenage Hardy tuned to Radio Luxembourg and dreamt her way through The Everly Brothers, Elvis and Brenda Lee - a diet of artists who Hardy stated “ended up changing my life.”

At 16, Hardy was gifted a guitar. She taught herself the chords and signed up for signing lessons. By 1961, she had signed her first record contract. Her breakthrough came shortly after on French television in 1962, where her performance of ‘Tous les Garcons et les filles’ charmed the nation. 

Donning an oversized V neck sweater, worn backwards, Hardy’s first step into the spotlight captured attention not only for her music but for her style. 

Hardy was androgynous, effortless and of course, chic! She is the blueprint for French girl style beside the likes of Birkin and Bardot. 

Her boyish silhouettes and 60s fringe mark her out as an eternal it girl with that Paco Rabanne dress cementing her place in the fashion hall of fame. Made from 1000 gold plaques and weighing 200 pounds, Hardy wore the dress as though it was nothing- and that’s what makes her such an important figure in fashion history, it’s never inauthentic; over styled or over thought - it’s simply just her. 

On top of her impact on Paco Rabanne, she became a longstanding muse to Yves Saint Laurent, who dressed her in an array of his masculine Le Smoking ensembles over the years.

Hardy is also the reason Comme des Garçons got its name! 

The fashion brand’s founder, Rei Kawakubo, is a huge fan of Hardy with its name being plucked from a line in Hardy’s 1963 song Tous les Garçons et les Filles.

Of course, Hardys magnetism didn’t go unnoticed. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan were all besotted by her shy charm, with Jagger branding her the “ideal woman” and Dylan turning to her as her his poetic muse.

Despite the swathes of starry eyed perusers, Hardy wasrelentlessly and desperately love sick. She called love “a remarkable force, even if its price is perpetual torment- but without that torment, I would not have written a single lyric.”

Limerence was the root from which Hardy drew her creativity, with her music being the ultimate sad girl soundtrack. The yearning and melancholia of unrequited love will always be rich grounds for poetic inspiration, with Hardy’s back catalogue showcasing this. 

She commented, “What a person sings is an expression of what they are. Luckily for me, the most beautiful songs are not happy songs. The songs we remember are the sad, romantic songs.”

Hardy’s life seemed to be one of Parisian daydreams. Hazysummers and minidresses. Romantic musings as the city passed her by. 

Her habits of turning to the songwriting book over the relationship councillor has made for a lifetime worth of beautiful music. 

She may have been a sad romantic but she was also a woman in a world of men; a mother; a non-conformer unbothered by the stars who fell at her feet. She waded through a culture of hedonism without so much of a glance of persuasion to join. 

In every sense, Hardy was authentically and utterly herself. Her legacy will live forever and remain to inspire and infatuate for generations to come.

Edited by Emily Duff


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