Fashion & Film: Rohmer's Women
By Mary Sucaet
On the heels of Godard and Truffaut, names now synonymous with the French new wave and discordant cinema, is the the grandson of the movement, Eric Rohmer.
Rohmer grew to prominence with his collection of films, maybe ironically named "Six Moral Tales". Each of the films in the collection share a same general plot: a central male character is tempted by a (usually fire-y) coquette, though already in some sort of committed relationship, and through psychological twists and turns, eventually, and with some fervor, he returns to his own lover.
While it sounds repetitive and redundant when outlined, Six Moral Tales became a landmark for both French and cinema as a whole. For me, these movies re-categorized and reimagined what I knew sexiness was watching as a young awkward high school sophomore. Not because of the French suitors (though the men have great style too), but rather, getting to experience the poetically depicted Rohmer woman.
It's seems though the movies vary in aesthetics slightly as Rohmer worked through the years the woman stayed more or less the same. She has an unyielding confidence, at least she is giving the illusion of that. She has delicate, feminine features that contrast with her persistent indifference toward our antagonist. She is aloof. Maybe it's because they are French or maybe because they are in a Rohmer film, and perhaps it's both, but these women are the definition of what I consider 'cool'. I'll do my best here to illustrate why.
These films span from 1963 to 1972, so naturally there is a progression to the aesthetic. We start with classic 60's French skirt suits and impeccably fitting dresses with wide boat necks, where the neck does all the showing off. In the early films she is graceful with great posture and is the state of put-together that we all hope to attain. Once we reach La Collectioneuse, released in 1967, she has lost all this façade of poise and we find ourselves enamored withHadée, a very young and very unbuttoned muse sporting bright solid separates on the rocks at the beach, and not much else. A precocious Béatrice Romand as Laura in Claire’s Knee wears boy-ish knits and sweet simple patterned dresses peaking Jérôme’s interest until he is distracted by her half sister’s knee. Claire looks like she went shopping at modern day Maryam Nassir Zadeh for resort wear. With the 1970’s-light look in right now it’s easy to see similarities. Still, it’s Laura’s un-accessorized straight forwardness that catches your attention. Look out for the yellow turtleneck look in particular.
Love in the Afternoon, the last of the series and my favorite, features the model and actress Zouzou, whom I quantify as the quintessential Rohmer woman. While she is older than the others I have mentioned, she is by far the most seductive and sexiest in her aimlessness. She is confident in an oversized trench or turtleneck as she is in an oxfords and leather jacket. She seems to always be reclined in a chair with bell bottoms, a chunky belt, and a sweater that is curiously flattering. These women are essentially just wearing very normal, plain clothes yet no matter how I described them here it falls short of properly illustrating the tremendous style each has, from haircut to bikini, it is simply, chic.
What is key in any Rohmer woman’s charm is her logic. She knows the games she’s playing and how to play them without appearing to eager in a way that would ruin the whole thing. She is coy but manipulative. She has bangs you wouldn’t dare try yourself. Rohmer’s women are the accessible alter egos many of us have dreamed up, and can easily lose yourself in.
edited by @womenandfilm