– By Stacy Igel –
Anna Karina, née Hanne Karin Bayer is a jack of all trades holding the titles of actress, writer, director, singer and former model. Starting at the age of 17, Karina hitched-hiked from Copenhagen to Paris where she would be discovered (initially, as a model) at the Les Deux Magots; a hotbed of the artistic and intellectual elite of the day which included the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. As she began modeling, it was early in her career when she would receive her first big break; posing for the cover of Elle Magazine. While on set – wearing Pierre Cardin – she met the ultra chic Coco Chanel, who would bestow upon her the ultimately befitting and ultra glamorous name, Anna Karina. From the cover of Elle Magazine to a spread in Jours de France came a slew of high-profile jobs. However, it was during her stint in a series of high-profile ads for Palmolive that caught the attention of radical French existential filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard. As she would go on to star in several feature films such as Le Petit Soldat, A Woman is a Woman, The Nun, Justine, and Bread and Chocolate, she consistently turned down Jean-Luc’s request for her to star in his debut film, Breathless. Although she never did star in Breathless – by doubling his efforts in wooing Karina – he would win her heart in the end as she became the New Wave auteur’s muse, and later, his wife.
Both on and off-screen, Karina possessed a distinct French style which would become synonymous with the “New Wave” fashion movement of the time. Mischievous yet nonchalant, her captivating style embodied the spirit of youthful iconoclasm. Many influential trends can be traced to Karina, including a heavy feline-inspired application of eyeliner, a modern re-interpretation of headwear, such as rattan toppers, sailor caps and berets, and “innocence as sexy,” which is on full display in Karina’s choice of knee-length plaid skirts, frilled collar dresses, ballet flats and even those unforgettable sweeping bangs of hers. Think Jackie O, with a kick.
Anna Karina was, and remains, a femme fatale whose beauty belies her intelligence and grit. Her ensembles have left a deep impression on the fashion world, with many yearning to emulate her look even today. Alexa Chung and Zosia Mamet clearly take their quirky cues from Karina. Jason Wu’s Resort 2011 collection was inspired by her as well, as are most of the inhabitants of the hipper parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
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Stacy Igel is the founder and creative director of the young contemporary brand, Boy Meets Girl®. She is also the host of Behind the Seams™ with Stacy Igel as seen on Lockerz.com & MTVu.com. Stacy is a frequent lecturer on subjects including social media, branding and entrepreneurship in fashion, and she is deeply committed to a number of charities, including the Young Survival Coalition and BullyBust. You can follow her on Twitter @stacyigel or at her blog.