Fashion Courier takes a look at the silhouette of Isabelle Huppert, a 70-year-old, one of France’s most sought-after actresses and an accomplished GentleWoman, who continues to amaze with provocative roles in the world’s best directors, as well as inspire with a timeless image – which proves that age is just a number. Isabelle Huppert breaks the mold.
Table of Contents:
- Age is just a number – why is Isabelle Huppert breaking the mold?
- Modern cinema icon – what is the career of the iconic French actress like?
- A woman of many incarnations – Huppert and her approach to acting.
- The Pianist – the most important role for a French actress?
- 8 Women – what do we love François Ozon’s unforgettable musical for?
- Star of French cinema – what makes this status for Isabelle Huppert?
- Style according to Huppert – what inspires the actress in her timeless image?
- The Balenciaga era – what connects the prominent actress with the hit fashion house?
Age is just a number
Although in our opinion, age is just a number, we’d be hard pressed to say that we know many 70-year-old actresses who wear velvet mini-dresses with platform heels or see-through lace creations to movie galas. In fact, we don’t even know that many 30-somethings who always feel confident enough to look like this on the red carpet. This is where Isabelle Huppert – an award-winning French actress and contemporary style icon – comes in and breaks the mold. And that’s a lot of schemes: not only fashion ones, but also those related to acting and the perception of women in the film industry.
Contemporary cinema icon
Isabelle Huppert is a legendary actress known for her exceptional talent and versatile, cinematic creations. She was born on March 16, 1953 in Paris, where she matured and studied acting. Huppert has a prolific career spanning more than four decades under her belt. For her groundbreaking acting incarnations – from the romantic Madame Bovary and ruler of men’s hearts to demonic politicians and unconventional femme fatale – she has become one of the most respected actresses in the film industry, and not just in France.
Huppert has gained international recognition for portraying complex and psychologically challenging characters. She has worked with acclaimed directors and starred in many film genres, including dramas, thrillers and art-house films. Over the course of her fruitful and highly inspiring career, she has received numerous awards and accolades, including several Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars) and nominations for prestigious international awards such as the Oscars and Golden Globes.
A woman of many incarnations
As for Huppert’s filmography, especially of French cinema, it is really long. The actress played leading roles in such French classics as “The Lacemaker” (dir. Claude Goretta, 1977) and “Violette” (dir. Claude Chabrol, 1978), as well as in many foreign productions. To recall just a few titles: the perpetually controversial “Elle” (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 2016), in which Huppert plays a victim of sexual violence and a dominatrix in a wildly dangerous – even deadly – romance, or the breathtaking thriller “Greta” (dir. Neil Jordan, 2019), in which Isabelle plays the role of a ruthless psychopath alongside Chloë Grace Moretz. Huppert’s film performances are often praised by critics for their emotional depth and masterful ability to convey complex and multi-layered characters. In addition to her film career, Huppert also gives back to the theater. She has appeared in many stage productions, including works by well-known playwrights such as Jean Genet and Tennessee Williams. Her theatrical performances have also received worldwide critical acclaim.
The actress has starred in almost 150 (!) film and television productions, showing her versatility through a wide range of impersonations. Although she has also starred in comedies, Isabelle Huppert is perhaps best known for portraying (seemingly) “cold” women who behave in ways that are unexpected, sometimes even appalling to the viewer. Some critics even describe her as “one of the best actresses in the world.” At 72. Berlin Film Festival in 2022, her achievements were duly honored: she received the Golden Bear, the prestigious European film award, for lifetime achievement.
A special mention in terms of Huppert’s roles definitely deserves the cult masterpiece “The Pianist” (dir. Michael Haneke, 2001), which tells the story of a difficult relationship between a piano teacher and her student. For this unforgettable incarnation, Huppert took home honorary awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or for Best Actor and Best Film, and the European Film Award.
Interestingly, the genesis of the film’s plot has a subtly biographical background: as a child, Huppert was urged by her mother, an English teacher, to pursue a career as a pianist. Eventually, as a rebellious teenager, she abandoned music lessons due to her lack of patience with the formal rules for classical music. Haneke fortunately picked up on the actress’s lesser-known to the public and now slightly forgotten talent. A 2001 film production based on the novel by Austrian Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek, “The Pianist” is a painful journey into the depths of human weaknesses and hidden sexuality, a cinematic narrative no less controversial than the still shocking “Funny Games” (1998), another Haneke film classic. “That’s what artists are for: to shake people up, to make them angry, to push them out of their sphere of security.” – argued Huppert at the promotion of the film, to which she owes one of the many roles of her life.
“Electrifying” Huppert’s role was her participation in the contemporary French classic “8 Women” (2002) by François Ozon, a controversial French director. Isabelle has joined the ranks of France’s most famous actresses on the set of the iconic musical. For this performance, the talented and charismatic ladies received a collective award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Award. With legends of French cinema – Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Fanny Ardant or Emmanuelle Beart – Huppert creates a comedy-crime masterpiece that disarms with sharpened humor, exquisite acting and aesthetically stunning costumes. Agatha Christie, whose writing was a key inspiration for the film, would have been impressed by the intrigue and suspense that Ozon and her actresses skillfully create throughout the plot of “8 Women.”
Star of French cinema
Isabelle Huppert’s career is not slowing down for a moment, a testament to her status as a star of French cinema. She starred in Claude Chabrol’s “A Woman’s Affair” (1988), which earned her the Volpi Cup at the Venice International Film Festival and numerous awards at world festivals such as Valladolid. No wonder: the film tells the story of the last French woman sentenced to death by guillotine. As one might expect, Huppert left viewers stunned with her impersonation.
The actress is known to dislike journalistic small talk – especially about her appearance. On the occasion of another film, Huppert was complimented on her sex appeal by a journalist during a press conference. She commented with the words: “Your definition of eroticism must be somehow twisted, I think. For the audience, my roles are a powerful, exhausting experience, but they energize me as an actress.” In the eye of the press, Isabelle prefers to focus on films, working with directors and her acting craft, rather than talk about superficial or private issues.
One of Europe’s busiest actresses, she plays in French as well as fluent Italian and English. Last May, the best-selling film starring her, “Mrs. Harris’s Paris,” was released. The actress known for “The Pianist” in a romantic comedy alongside Lucas Bravo, whom we had the pleasure of seeing in Netflix’s Emilia in Paris? Yes, it seems that the French cinema star loves to push boundaries and surprise her fans. “I remember that I used to be afraid that playing in English I wouldn’t be able to be funny because of the language block, but it turns out that this is not a problem. I’ve done a lot of funny English-language films, in ‘Paris Mrs. Harris’ I think I also play a funny character.” The role of the director of an exquisite fashion house is so good that we think it deserves a separate film!
At 70, Isabelle still enjoys acting in films. And he doesn’t choose easy roles. Her latest film, “Mon Crime,” a tragicomedy directed by Francois Ozon, is one of the most intriguing premieres of 2023. The role in the French provocateur’s new film has already been described as another great triumph for Huppert. Huppert’s expressive roles can be described as a portrayal of extraordinary women marked by tragedy and surrounded by mystery. However, this is inaccurate, she quipped in an interview with Zeit Magazine, because her films say nothing about her true self. Rather, the actress sees herself as a “tool” of the directors, following their instructions exactly, with almost no improvisation or making comfortable compromises. On her acting abilities, Huppert said she has “unlimited self-confidence.” “When I play, I never doubt. I have absolutely no fear,” she said in an interview with The Financial Times. “There are so many other areas where I am not like that in my films. It can stress me out crossing the street, meeting people….everyday life can be overwhelming. But in acting, nothing scares me. Acting is never an obstacle. I do this profession without thinking about it, it is simply part of my nature.”
Style according to Huppert
The actress’ evolving style is as fearless as her acting. Isabelle Huppert’s red carpet styling comes from her favorite brands haute couture such as Armani Prive, Chanel and Christian Dior, and always match her ambiguous personality. What we love about Huppert’s style is that she wears the creations of high tailoring with a certain nonchalance, as if she is simply putting on her favorite dress, regardless of whether she is going to lunch with friends or down the red path at the Cannes Film Festival. French women just instinctively know that true style is not about the clothes themselves, but the attitude of the person who wears them. Attention to detail, awareness of what fits the silhouette and high quality workmanship of the outfit are simply complementary accessories.
The award-winning actress likes to borrow unisex pieces for her closet. For years, Huppert’s distinctive look was inspired by a men’s suit. At the premiere of the film Le Discours in Rome, she wore a velvet black suit, white shirt and black classic pumps. The outfit was simple, beautifully tailored and above all – distinctive. Those familiar with Huppert’s style have seen her in similar iterations many times. Since the early 1990s, she has repeatedly chosen just evening suits instead of dresses.
Combined with au naturel makeup, usually accented with red lipstick, Huppert’s stylish presence on the red carpet perfectly epitomizes the French je ne sais quoi. What is its secret? Consistency. According to the ranking Vogue France , Huppert’s decades-long allegiance to her signature look puts her on the pedestal of the best-dressed actresses of all time.
The Balenciaga Era
Recently, however, the actress has been showing herself to the public more and more often in tailored creations with the Balenciaga label. She was appointed by Demna Gvasalia, creative director of the French brand, as an ambassador for the historic fashion house, being its face in advertising campaigns as well as at industry events. Her styling from Balenciaga (from its haute couture line) for the 2021 MET Gala has become an iconic moment in the history of the fashion event. It’s about a memorable, floor-length, electrifying red velvet ball gown. On another red carpet, Huppert wore a stunning black satin total look, topped with huge sunglasses. Balenciaga’s current aesthetic – over-sizecuts, variations on Parisian chic and an ironic approach to fashion – suits Huppert’s style not only at elegant events. At the brand’s recent fashion show, sitting in the front row, the actress wore a pair of leather pants, a matching turtleneck and a neon green mini-bag. Not every 20- or 30-something would be able to create such carefree styling….
Of course, we can’t forget Isabelle Huppert’s latest fashion incarnation. For the premiere of Martin Scorsese’s latest film “Killers Of The Flower Moon” at the Cannes Film Festival, the French actress opted for a divine Balenciaga creation from the fall-winter 2023 show. Typically, see-through lace dresses on the red carpet are worn with flesh-toned lingerie. In the case of Huppert’s outfit, the actress wore a beige jumpsuit underneath her black lace creation, which stretched all the way to her shoes (known as a “shoe suit”). “pant-shoes” are one of the hallmarks and bestsellers of the high fashion house). Chopard earrings with precious gems and diamonds completed the intriguing look. We’re used to Isabelle’s same hairstyle – silky, naturally flowing red hair – so it was a big surprise to see how she and her stylist, John Nollet, decided to make a radical change: a wavy pixie-cut with blond highlights. In her new look, Huppert looked simply divine!
Isabelle Huppert’s acting artistry is like her style: surprising, intriguing, groundbreaking. In GentleWoman‘s editorial, we follow the actress’ subsequent professional exploits and admire her timeless image.
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