Brigette Bardot: And God Created Woman (1956)
“Men are beasts and even beasts don’t behave as they do”
- Brigette Bardot
“I am really a cat transformed into a woman…I purr. I scratch. And sometimes I bite.”
- Brigette Bardot
And God Created Woman (1956)
(Et Dieu…….crea la femme)
Does she even need an introduction? Bardot is probably my ultimate beauty icon. Not just because of her outrageous sex appeal or her mesmerizing beauty. It’s also because she is intelligent, talented and never hesitates to say what’s on her mind. She is a committed animal rights advocate, a dedicated philanthropist and a breast cancer survivor. Not just a pretty face eh? Whether she is in film or in print, she has the timeless ability to capture our full attention.
This feature is all about her appearance in Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman (1956). This was the film that gave Bardot overnight fame and her ‘sex kitten’ status. A star was instantly born. Upon its release during the 50’s, it quickly gained a scandalous reputation because of the sexualisation of Bardot and the involvement of nudity. Most of the nude scenes had to be heavily edited in America and the UK so they complied with censorship rules. The film itself has some moments of genius but is ultimately ruined by the ridiculous ending and seems to get lost in its own plot.
To be honest, I am more focused on Bardot than the rest of the film. The hair, the lips, the eyes; in every scene, she is effortlessly captivating. If you have not seen it then I seriously recommend watching the trailer quickly which you can find here. Bardot plays an 18-year old orphan called Juliette, that ends up driving the men of St.Tropez into an erotic frenzy. After the film, St.Tropez became a hot spot for the rich and famous, turning it into the luxury destination that we all know today. She was married to the films director Roger Vadim at the time, and I feel that this is apparent in the way she is portrayed on camera. Vadim knew how to maximise her attraction and charm on screen and there is something slightly voyeuristic about the way the camera lingers on her in multiple shots. The camera focuses on her hair a lot in the film, with frequent shots of her staring ardently into the distance whilst the wind wisps and rustles through her soft, blonde curls. Bardot is actually responsible for the later invention of the ‘choucroute’ hairstyle. Celebrity hairdresser Sam McKnight does an amazing Bardot hair tutorial which you can watch here.
When she actually is wearing clothes, they are incredible. Credit is due to French designer Balmain for how breathtakingly stylish she looks in every scene. For me, there are three looks that really stand out overall. In no particular order…..
First off, its her simple, lightweight shirt dresses with a roll-up sleeve. Casual, smart, yet unbelievably sexy. She wears multiple shirt dresses in the film, perhaps because they are so easy to throw on and off. The audience is always reminded that she absolutely starkers underneath. Of course, there is always a belt to show off her tiny waist, and buttons from top to bottom.
Second, its in the dance scene, where she wildly rips open her skirt and maniacally dances her frustration out to the sound of beating drums. Its a hard job for her to be seen wearing shoes in this film. There is something animalistic about the way she bounds about town in her bare feet. In this scene she is seen in a simple black body and a polka dot buttoned-down skirt. She still manages to look so provocative even with such a high neckline.
Finally, the red dress. In this scene, a whole new level of sophistication is brought to Bardot’s character. She could almost pass for a respectable lady and not the young girl full of sexual energy who is labelled a ‘slut’ throughout the village. The amount of ‘Garden of Eden’ references throughout the film truly paint her character as a forbidden ‘Eve’. Even the colour of the dress; red is the colour of passion, love and danger. This dress is a signature design of Balmain, with the boat neckline and tailored skirt. It illustrates his ethos of the clothes being the ‘architecture of movement’. When she moves, the dress moves with her, as if it were part of her own skin. Ultimately, this scene is the style climax of the film.
Lisa Eldridge also has an equally great Bardot inspired tutorial here.