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FEATURE

Style icon: Belmondo

By Libby Banks, 14 May 2015

Unconventional looks, a reckless tough-guy persona and a hefty chunk of onstage charm made actor Jean-Paul Belmondo the unlikely poster boy for Nouvelle Vague cinema. The craggy-faced Frenchman first found fame playing an irresistible cop-killing anti-hero in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 classic À Bout de Souffle – or Breathless to those who don’t speak Français. 

In fact, his performance alongside Jean Seberg makes for one of the most stylish onscreen couplings in cinematic history. The dangling cigarette, the tilted trilby and dishevelled nonchalance led to international stardom, as well as countless hip Parisians attempting to emulate his look. Before starting his acting career, Belmondo was an amateur boxer, which explains the nose.

Jean Paul B

Picture: Getty, Rex

While much of his style legacy mainly rests with À Bout de Souffle, Belmondo became one of France’s best-loved film stars of the 1960s and beyond, with a rep for depicting murky underworld gangsters and crooked rogues. As a regular of Nouvelle Vague cinema, he worked with directors like Louis Malle, Alain Resnais and François Truffaut. Belmondo’s style combines the impeccable sartorial tastes of Humphrey Bogart with a quintessentially French laissez-faire attitude. In other words, choose well-fitted formal pieces and wear them like you don’t give a damn.

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