Happy Bastille Day! As our Gallic friends kick back for a 14 July filled with food, fireworks and a general air of not being at work in honour of 225-odd years of the French Republic, we celebrate 225-odd years of French cool. Check out our gallery of magnificent monsieurs, then shop a few of our favourite French brands below.
Vive Le French!
By Matt Glazebrook, 14 July 2014
An amateur boxer turned portrayer of loveable movie rogues, Jean-Paul Belmondo’s rugged, rumpled style defined the French New Wave in flicks like Breathless. His brand of rough-around-the-edges charm lives on in contemporary French stars like Vincent Cassel and Tahar Rahim.
From his days as a goal poacher for Arsenal and Barcelona, through his stint as a rakish pitchman for Renault to his latest incarnation as a suavely soft-spoken TV footy analyst, Thierry Henry has embodied the concept of effortless cool. Even in the heat of the action on the pitch he always seemed on the verge of a Gallic shrug. In his latest gig he's managed the near-impossible – making a sofa full of retired footballer pundits look cool – without breaking sweat, and turned a Gucci cardigan into a breakout World Cup star in the process.
Alain Delon’s trilby-wearing, trenchcoat-clad assassin Jef Costello in Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 film Le Samouraï remains an all-time icon of cinematic cool, floating through the mean streets of Paris with a barely a flicker of emotion across his immaculate visage. And what a visage: from his breakthrough role as Tom ‘The Talented Mr’ Ripley in Purple Noon to the iconic cover of the Smiths’ The Queen is Dead, it's hard to argue with the power of Delon's enigmatically handsome mug.
The yin to Thierry Henry’s yang, Zidane is a brooding, growling, thrusting slab of pure French homme. Who could look so cool playing football that’d he warrant an entire arthouse movie devoted solely to watching him do just that? Zinedine Zidane, that’s who.
Possibly the Frenchiest of all French style icons, lover, charmer and musical genius Serge Gainsbourg set the template for Gallic guydom that we – with our open-neck shirts, stubble just so and attendant beatnik beauties – can only aspire to.