Monday, July 22
Remembering Francois Hardy the star who set the eternal style

Remembering François Hardy, the star who set the eternal style tone for French fashion


The words icon and muse are often touted around the fashion world but it’s still a rare soul that encapsulates the real meaning of those monikers. François Hardy, the French singer who has died at the age of 80 from cancer, was one of a handful of women who set the style tone of the second half of the 20th century, the effect of which continues to resonate. 

The singer, born in Nazi occupied Paris in 1944, became synonymous with the much touted insouciant Parisian style which was a low-key cocktail of her time spent in swinging London coupled with a pared-back French sensibility. She came to London in the Sixties, recording at Pye Records’ Marble Arch studios and performing at The Savoy. Her melancholic lispish yé-yé style entranced as much as her striking girl next door beauty which captured the lenses of Richard Avedon, David Bailey and William Klein, as well as the hearts of David Bowie and Bob Dylan (who famously penned a poem about her). 

François Hardy reading her Evening Standard in

François Hardy reading her Evening Standard in 1968

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She was catnip to the designers of the day, and the melding of her casual glamour – that fringe, scant makeup – with the striking modernity of the clothes of Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne who all took her as muse creating an eternal fashion pitch. It’s a blend that has become synonymous with the definition of a carefree attitude to fashion which is still heralded as the pinnacle of taste.  “When I came to London to perform at the Savoy in the mid-60s, I was well aware that the British press was more interested in the way I dressed than in my songs,” Hardy, often touted as the  “the very essence of French style”, told The New York Times in 2018. 

Her impact resounded across those seeking to depict the era through design. Rei Kawakubo named her label Comme des Garçons, founded in 1973 after being inspired by Hardy’s song “Tous les garçons et les filles.”

She was the Anglophile ying to Jane Birkin’s Francophile yang, two women (who were friends, Hardy worked with Birkin’s partner Serge Gainsborough) setting a template for that impish androgynous-leaning look which designers and It girls still ply from (see Alexa Chung, among others). 

François Hardy wearing Paco Rabanne

François Hardy wearing Paco Rabanne

@rabanne Instagram

Whether in one of Rabanne’s weighty gold chain mail mini dresses (dubbed ‘The most expensive dress in the world’ which she modelled at the International Diamond Exhibition in May, 1968) to flares and leather jackets, YSL Le Smoking trouser suits, beatnik roll necks and oversized sunglasses, trench coats with a just-turned cuff, mini skirt suits or fur coats and Roger Vivier knee high boots, she had that much coveted je ne sais quoi to always look perfectly herself. 

Her legacy remains in the shape of fashion today – a common addition to designer moodboards -with the much touted French girl aesthetic taken frame by frame from her stylish playbook.

François Hardy, an eternal style muse

French actor Jean-claude Brialy holds on November 20, 1963 the umbrella to French actress and singer Francoise Hardy as they leave the Champs Elysees cinema where they attend the premiere of the movie "Chateau en Suede" directed by Roger Vadim

French actor Jean-claude Brialy holds on November 20, 1963 the umbrella to French actress and singer Francoise Hardy as they leave the Champs Elysees cinema where they attend the premiere of the movie “Chateau en Suede” directed by Roger Vadim

AFP via Getty Images

at the Isle of Wight Music Festival, August 1969

At the Isle of Wight Music Festival, August 1969

Getty Images

 Wearing a sequined sheath dress worn with a matching poncho, presents the Spring-Summer 1979 haute-couture collection of the Torrente house, on November 24, 1978 in Paris.

Wearing a sequined sheath dress worn with a matching poncho, presents the Spring-Summer 1979 haute-couture collection of the Torrente house, on November 24, 1978 in Paris.

AFP via Getty Images

Walking along The Strand, November 1966

Walking along The Strand, November 1966

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French singer and songwriter Francoise Hardy, circa 1965.

French singer and songwriter Francoise Hardy, circa 1965.

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Wearing Paco Rabanne in The Embankment Gardens, London in the Sixties

Wearing Paco Rabanne in The Embankment Gardens, London in the Sixties

Getty Images

Arriving at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 1963 with actor Jean-Claude Brialy

Arriving at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 1963 with actor Jean-Claude Brialy

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French singer Francoise Hardy attends a fitting session before the filming of John Frankenheimer's racing drama "Grand Prix", with US fashion designers Vicky Tiel (L) and Mia Fonssa-Grives (R), on April 15, 1966 in Paris.

French singer Francoise Hardy attends a fitting session before the filming of John Frankenheimer’s racing drama “Grand Prix”, with US fashion designers Vicky Tiel (L) and Mia Fonssa-Grives (R), on April 15, 1966 in Paris.

AFP via Getty Images

Francoise Hardy sitting on a Honda CB750 motorcycle, Paris, 25th October 1969

Francoise Hardy sitting on a Honda CB750 motorcycle, Paris, 25th October 1969

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