Because nothing makes a glamorous star all the more glamour than a Parisian backdrop, n’est-ce pas?
Sophia Loren at Hôtel Plaza Athenée, 1956
When this photo was taken, the Italian starlet was in town promoting her movie Scandal in Sorrento, and well on her way to mega-star status, about to shoot her first Hollywood movie, The Pride and the Passion with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. She visited Paris many times, as well as filming here (Five Miles to Midnight, 1962), and even training for striptease skills — Le Crazy Horse choreographer Jacques Ruet helped her prep for her infamous scene in 1964’s Marriage Italian Style. In that year, she and long-time partner, producer Carlo Ponti, moved to Paris and married. They lived in a triplex apartment opposite Hôtel George V, but also spent many months in their home in Switzerland, where Loren has lived since the 1970s. The style icon still regularly visits Paris, where she has long been a front-row favourite during couture week.
Jane Fonda at La Tour d’Argent, 1963
The daughter of Hollywood royalty actually resided in Paris for much of the 1960s. She moved to the City of Light to film with heartthrob actor Alain Delon, and stayed on after meeting — and then marrying — director Roger Vadim (a.k.a Brigitte Bardot’s ex). They lived in the attic of a grand townhouse on Rue Vieille du Temple (the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande where, FYI, Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro), and were quite the it-couple, partying it up all over France. Jane dressed in Dior and Cardin, starred in the cult film Barbarella (fun fact: she turned down the lead roles in Dr Zhivago, Bonnie and Clyde, and Rosemary’s Baby), and had a baby, Vanessa Vadim, before the lure of home eventually drew her back to America.
Jean Seberg at Maxim’s, 1957
The American actress — who had just found her inner French woman playing the title role of the movie Saint Joan — was in Paris, in 1957, filming the English-speaking version of Bonjour, Tristesse. It was during this time that she met her first husband, a French director. She ended up basing herself in the city for several years, slipping right into the social scene of post-war Paris. With her cropped hair and minimally styled look, she seemed to capture the zeitgeist, as well as epitomising the ‘New Wave’ woman. This helped her score what would be her most legendary role: Patricia in 1960’s cult ‘Nouvelle Vague’ film À Bout de Souffle (Breathless), alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo. She lived mostly in Paris throughout the following two decades, until her tragic death, ruled a probable suicide, in 1979.
Lana Turner at the Louvre, 1953
The blonde bombshell had established herself as a femme fatale by the early 1950s, having played Cora in the 1946 film noir classic, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Milady The Three Muskateers, the hit film of 1948 — the year in which Turner honeymooned in Paris with her third husband. She relocated to Europe in 1953, for eighteen months, during which time she married her fourth husband, and celebrated another Paris honeymoon. Turner was a regular at Paris fashion houses and in the pages of French fashion magazines, and it was perhaps the style lessons she picked during her time in Paris that helped her score the role of one of history’s most chic Parisiennes: Diane de Poitiers, in the 1956 Hollywood movie Diane.
Marianne Faithfull at the Marché aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II, 1967
The London singer, actress and all-round it-girl partied it up in Paris throughout the 1960s. She honeymooned here in 1964, while hanging out with the American beatniks then in town (Allen Ginsberg, etc), and had a six-week stint performing at the Olympia in 1966. Later still, she’d hang out with Alain Delon, with whom she starred in 1968’s The Girl on a Motorcycle. By then she was seeing Mick Jagger — you can imagine the wild Parisian times they must have had! Now 74, Faithfull lived in a Montparnasse apartment for many years before recently moving back to London to be closer to her grandchildren.
Audrey Hepburn on Avenue Kleber, 1956
The actress spent much of 1956 in Paris, filming both Funny Face and Love in the Afternoon. She was probably, in this photo, on her way to Hôtel Raphaël, her home away from home. Although she technically never lived in Paris, Hepburn was always considered the epitome of Parisian chic. She travelled to Paris for the first time in 1952, to see an up-and-coming designer by the name of Hubert de Givenchy about her French wardrobe for Sabrina. In the hit 1954 movie, Hepburn played the lead role of a chauffeur’s daughter sent to Paris for a two-year cooking course; it turned out to be the recipe for the most glamorous style makeover in cinema history. Hepburn and Givenchy remained lifelong friends, as much as style icons, and she was the ultimate in elegance right to the end.
Jerry Hall at Café de Flore, 1972
An up-and-coming model, all legs-to-there and blonde ambition, Hall moved to Paris at the age of sixteen, and found a city at its most glamorous, in a decade that must count as one of France’s most hedonistic. If you want to know more about Paris in the heady 1970s, read the fabulous book, The Beautiful Fall, by Alicia Drake.
Sharon Tate at Les Deux Magots, 1968
The tragically ill-fated actress was honeymooning in Paris, following a ski holiday in the Swiss Alps, where she broke her ankle and ended up in a plaster cast. She and husband Roman Polanski arrived in Paris in time for the French premiere of Rosemary’s Baby, the psychological horror film for which Polanski had directed Mia Farrow. They stayed at the bohemian-luxe Left Bank hotel L’Hôtel (where Oscar Wilde spent his final nights) before driving around the French countryside in the red Ferrari that Polanski had had shipped over from Los Angeles. The following year, a heavily pregnant Tate was brutally murdered in her Californian home by members of the Manson Family cult.
Jackie Onassis on Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1975
Jacqueline Bouvier spent a life-changing year in Paris, as a college student in 1949. It not only honed her perfect French and chic personal style, it infused her with a love for everything Gallic, from literature to furnishings. As such, she was an immeasurable asset, as Jacqueline Kennedy, the First Lady. She was such a huge hit during the Kennedys’ 1961 visit to France, that JFK, on that trip, joked, “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” She would later visit Paris often, especially as her sister Lee, an equal Francophile and fashion-lover, had an apartment there. So too soon would Jacqueline, on marrying Aristotle Onassis in 1968. As Jacqui O, she had many new global properties at her disposal, including a luxury abode on Avenue Foch. Aristotle died in 1974, probably a few months after this photo was taken.
Marlene Dietrich by the Eiffel Tower, 1937
After her breakthrough role in 1930’s The Blue Angel, the German actress spent much of the following decade travelling between Hollywood and France. The Francophile was increasingly wary of the creeping power of the Nazis in her home country. In Paris, she partied with the A-List likes of Maurice Chevalier, Jean Gabin and Elsa Maxwell. On her 1933 arrival, wearing her now-signature look of a men’s suit and tie — accented with a beret and large round Hollywood-style sunglasses — the indignant police chief threatened her with arrest, for it was illegal at the time for women to wear trousers. (She wasn’t incarcerated, in the end, for her sartorial transgression.) After refusing the German government’s demands for her to appear in propaganda films, she renounced her passport and, back in Hollywood, was granted American citizenship. During the war, she entertained Allied soldiers at home and abroad, and was in Paris within days after its liberation, continuing to perform on the front, as well as celebrate at the Ritz, where her good friend Ernest Hemingway had famously liberated the bar. She would later be awarded the French légion d’honneur, and she remained a beloved figure in Paris, where she bought herself an apartment on Avenue Montaigne. It was, sadly, here that she spent her final bedridden decade, passing away from kidney failure in 1992.