Breathless: My Favorite Black & White Film Heroine Reinvented in Living Color

Whenever I’m in search of some beauty and fashion inspiration, one of my favorite places to turn to is classic French cinema. Films from the Nouvelle Vague genre of the 50’s and 60’s are always a feast for my eyes. The French economy was booming at the time, politics and style were churning with revolutionary ideas, and French directors sought to capture the mood of society in this edgy new style of impromptu and fast paced film making. Names like Goddard and Truffaut might ring a bell, whose films are jam-packed with design and decor, fashion and beauty, music and more that never ceases to inspire me with their retro details.

Paris Rendezvous

At the top of my list is À Bout du Souffle, or “Breathless”, the story of a petty thief named Michel and his misadventures and love affair with his girlfriend, Patricia, an American student and aspiring journalist. From the Champs Elysées, to Parisian street cafés, to racing around town in a convertible, Michel is on the run, dodging the police until Patricia learns the true extent of his crimes and begins to question her loyalties. Patricia is played by none other than Jean Seberg, who like me was an American in Paris. The actress became a heroine of the French New Wave cinema and François Truffaut even called her "the best actress in Europe” at the time.

Nothing about Seberg’s ensembles and makeup in the film are complicated. They are simple, so french, and timeless. Her pixie cut is perfect for her round youthful face, and we never see her without that little swipe of black liquid liner French girls are so fond of, even while just lounging around her apartment. But seeing as the film is in black and white, some details of her style are always left to my imagination.

So I thought why not reinvent some of her looks from the film for today with a touch of color using my Color Design Matte Lip Crayons. The names of so many of the shades almost seem to be inspired by the film itself! I can see Patricia pacing up and down the the Champs Élysées selling The New York Herald Tribune and wearing a shade of “Lipstick Avenue” when she appears for the first time in the film. Or a bright red in “Oui, Monsieur” as Patricia is duped by the handsome Michel into allowing him to hide out in her apartment. And lastly, a bright pink shade of “Partner in Crime” as she agrees to go on the run with her wanted beau.

The movie is such great fun! If you're curious you can watch it in its entirety these days on YouTube, or just browse its most famous clips there! And with a few Parisian Wardrobe Essentials and a touch of Lancôme’s Lip Crayons you too can embody its famous heroine’s cinematic style…

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