At just the age of 22, model-turned-actress Brigitte Bardot reached international stardom—a legacy that would be immortalized even after her retirement from acting. In celebration of Bardot’s 86th birthday today, L'OFFICIEL looks at the top 10 moments that made the Parisian beauté a French style icon.
Born in 1934, Bardot aspired to be a ballerina as a young girl and trained under Boris Knyazev at the Conservatoire de Paris. At just 15 years old, she was hired as a model and nabbed her first cover in 1950 as a natural brunette. Two years later, she would transition into acting with her first role in Le Trou Normand (Crazy for Love).
As Bardot gained more attention in French cinema, she began to be be casted for English-speaking roles. But as she made her way to Hollywood, Bardot never let go of her French style. In one of her more memorable looks (above), she donned a red suede coat, beige corduroy trousers, black ankle boots, and, of course, a silk scarves.
In her breakthrough film, Et Dieu... Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman), Bardot wore a red body-conscious boatneck dress designed by French designer Pierre Balmain. Directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim, the starlet's role as the sultry beauty from St. Tropez made her an international star, and Bardot fully embraced the femme fatale persona.
Here the young Parisian channeled Dorothy from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, wearing a blue ruffle-layered gingham dress styled with a pair of braided pigtails and satin bows to match. As an avid fan of the woven fabric, Bardot even wore a pink gingham wedding dress for her second marriage in 1959.
Then a new mom, Bardot was famously photographed by Sam Levin in 1963 wearing a blue fur satin evening gown that she styled with a perfectly-imperfect choucroute bun. By then Bardot was already a full-fledged movie star and solidified her status as a sex symbol along with beloved American actress and bombshell beauty Marilyn Monroe.
A winged cat liner and messy blowout was arguably Bardot's most notable look. Here, the actress's bouffant ponytail paired with a bright red velvet bow and matching striped top—Bardot didn’t hide her love for patterned clothing throughout the years—followed in the actress' signature effortless style.
Bardot’s film career was extensive. In 1961, she won a David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress for her main role in La Vérité (The Truth) and was a nominee for the Bambi and BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress. Perhaps Bardot’s most-famous dressed down look would be the black cardigan outfit she wore as the distressed wife Camille in Le Mépris (Contempt), but she proved that even a bandeau headband can be just as striking as a new hairdo.
If being a global movie star wasn’t enough, Bardot ventured into music in the '60s with the alias, B.B. In her performance for her song “Harley Davidson,” Bardot epitomized the fearless biker chic style to the time.
Dressed head-to-toe in baby pink, Bardot gave an unforgettable look in L'Ours et la Poupee (The Bear and the Doll) in 1970. The return of the thigh-high boots with a baby pink raincoat and sun hat was addicting to watch.
In 1973 Bardot retired from entertainment at the age of 39, trading stardom to become an animal rights activist, which she still continues to advocate for today.