Charlotte Chic

Among the offerings for pre-fall, several of the collections continued with a men’s wear theme including suits with tux details such as these fabulous examples from the oh so elegant Giambattista Valli.

photos courtesy of giambattista valli

The original that all these styles reference is of course Yves St. Laurent’s Le Smoking from 1966, which changed forever the course of women’s fashion. It’s always been my sartorial dream to own one of these fabulous suits, portrayed in this famous Helmut Newton shot.

As we discussed last week, so many designers have been channeling style icons of the past as inspiration for current collections. When I think of this menswear trend, of le smoking and this very tailored architectonic style, I immediately think of one of my personal style icons, Charlotte Rampling. Although she did appear a few years ago in Jurgen Teller’s Marc Jacobs ads, in cheeky shots of her in the sheets with the photographer, she hasn’t been declared the object of any current collection’s affections.

To me she is one of the greats. Her spare, sexy, somewhat intimidating cool would be a perfect complement to any of these structured collections.

From her first break out role in Georgy Girl in 1966, Rampling has played beautiful women with an edge.

In Visconti’s extravaganza of incest and corruption, The Damned, her lanky elegance defies the distasteful subject matter.

photo: the Kobal Collection

I think she would be the perfect match for a line like The Row, for example, where Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been creating a minimalist laid back aesthetic. They cited Bianca Jagger this season, but Rampling would have been equally if not even more appropriate. Can’t you just see her in some of these looks? Rampling has never chosen the mainstream, instead spending her career in moody intense roles, frequently in what are considered art house films. She is glamorous, mysterious and unsettling – exactly what this line says to me, especially with the choice of hair and make up (which I’m actually not a fan of but I can see how they were trying to counterbalance what could be perceived as uptown chic). Rampling’s controversial (think The Night Porter) sultry performances fit with this collection that seems indeed to be walking the line between elegant beauty and some sort of austere dark perfection, which I adore by the way.

But Woody Allen understood Rampling’s appeal as well – he cast her as Dorrie in Stardust Memories, the love he can’t get out of his head. Her idealized character is understandable – look at those cheekbones, those eyes, that hair. She just exudes casual elegance.

She has continued to work these years in varied films from the damaged duplicitous Laura in The Verdict to the desperate delusional Marie in Under the Sand or compulsive Sarah in the Swimming Pool, a role written specifically for her. And now, at almost 65, she is still stunning, vibrant, chic and I think the perfect persona to inspire some sartorial splendor.

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66 Responses to Charlotte Chic

  1. Lisa says:

    I love menswear. If I looked like Ms. Rampling, I’d probably like it ever more:).

  2. quintessence says:

    Hi Lisa – I know – she is stunning – in everything she has ever done!

  3. Yes Lisa I do agree with you, Charlotte is one my favourites too and still stunning at 65. Thanks for this beautiful post :))

  4. alaine says:

    I always record a movie that mentions Charlotte as I know it will be ‘edgy’. Love her; thanks for this post.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Alaine – Me too – love her films, although Night Porter is sometimes more than I can handle!

    • elle says:

      Dear Q and alaine, thanks for a great post and a great idea to record all her movies. I haven’t seen many of them and I LOVE her: the hair, the style, the svelte figure…. and “edgy” is simply the perfect word! Thank you for sharing.

  5. I think that she really knows and appreciates herself–what a gift. Beneath the beauty, great depth. And I had almost forgotten about her.

  6. Greet says:

    I love to watch a movie with Charlotte! As you said she is still vibrant and chic!

  7. Rampling would definitely be a great muse for the Row. Oh the Giambattista Valli tuxedo suit needs to be mine!

  8. The Zhush says:

    Rampling, we don’t see or hear enough about her, great post! And YSL le smoking….great inspiration, le sigh!

  9. Barbara says:

    I am also a huge fan of Charlotte Rampling and have been trying to work her extraordinary beauty into a post. This was perfectly done – a great read! I can see her in all looks and you are so right, she would have been THE perfect muse for The Row.

  10. Let me just say that the Yves St. Laurent’s Le Smoking from 1966 photo is totally amazing and one of my favourites ever!!! And yes, she is so beautiful, stylish and incredibly chic…Love this post!
    Happy Thursday, my dear

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Diana – I have to tell you that I met someone yesterday who used to work for YSL and she was reminiscing about all the beautiful designs including this iconic one!

  11. abby jenkins says:

    She has always been one of my favorites. So chic, so timeless and what a talent. The epitome of “cool”.

    When I was in my early twenties, feeling confident in my eclectic style choices, one of my perennial pieces was a vintage (and vintage Salvation Army then was probably from the 60s) double breasted tuxedo jacket. I replaced the buttons with gold eagle ones and wore that coat like a second skin. With everything, everywhere. Tuxedo shirts that I pick up at the Greenwich Thrift Shop are still some of my staples. I love wearing them over bathing suits, as sleepwear, with a pair of ratty jeans. I think I’ll go online right now and order some Charlotte R. DVDs and wait for the next snow storm….yum… movie marathon lounging in my most loved tuxedo shirt and leggings.

    What a great post. That flowed better than Niagara!

  12. LiveLikeYou says:

    Menswear on women is the chicest thing. Love Charlotte Rampling!

  13. Le Smoking by YSL is iconic and so is Charlotte… I can definitely see her as a muse for The Row! The Olsen should take your very fashionable advice, Q!

  14. Kelly says:

    Love Charlotte Rampling – great round-up of photos. She would be so perfect for The Row!

    xo Kelly

  15. Oh Q, …..I need to expand my fashion horizons…I feel like I have been living in a cave…and I need to get to the movies more often…maybe I have been living in a cave…help!
    thanks for another great post…
    (now I gotta go look up charlotte rampling)

    • quintessence says:

      HI Maureen – I find it hard to believe that someone with your taste doesn’t look lovely. But do be sure to check out Rampling- you will be enthralled I guarantee!!

  16. Stacey says:

    Rampling is stunning and possesses such an amazing bone structure! Beautiful post! XX

    • quintessence says:

      Stacey – couldn’t agree more – but attitude is everything. And it’s her cool, thinking man’s appeal that makes all of us such fans!

  17. p gaye tapp says:

    she must have a fan club we can all sign up! always on radar-a favorite of many, myself included. the damned -goodness! and not to forget if we looked like CR- clothes don’t matter as much, who can forget that helmut newton photograph.

    • quintessence says:

      LA – I think I would like all her other fans – there’s something just underground enough about her that gives her that extra edge of cool. And yes – she’d look good in a paper bag as they say.

  18. Oh what a fabulous post! She is amazing. I wish that people spoke about her more around here.

  19. quintessence says:

    Hi Dawn – She is indeed amazing. But I think if she were too much in the limelight that would kill some of the appeal. It’s her vague elusive quality that adds to the image.

  20. What a gorgeous woman! Some people just age so beautifully. My mother is one of those. One can only pray….and use eye cream!

    • quintessence says:

      She is indeed stunning and I think has aged gracefully because she is so comfortable in her own skin. But you’re right – good genes (and perhaps eye cream) help!

  21. I would have never thought of her but you are so right. Casual elegance is the perfect way to describe her (and something I think so many of us try to attain). I so enjoy your viewpoint and instruction.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Jeanette – Thank you! She has always been one of my favorites. And casual elegance is my idea of chic.

  22. Oh, forgot to mention, we have booked one of the Vivat trust houses for a few days in May – thanks for the tip!!
    They had a “where did you hear about us” question while registering and my mother mentioned your blog :)

    • quintessence says:

      Oh how fabulous!!! I’m so envious – please make sure to report back – or blog about it!! And thank your mother for mentioning me!

  23. quintessence says:

    Hi Kelly – Don’t you think? I thought they would make a perfect combo.

  24. stitchfork says:

    Always love a white tux style shirt too!

  25. The Giambattista tux suits are gorgeous! I too love Charlotte Rampling and she would look amazing in them.

    The other looks are beautiful. I find minimalism hard to do myself , I start off well then I always ending up putting something ridiculous on with it xx

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Christina – I’m dying for a tux! I have a leather top from the row last season and I’ve worn it a ton. Minimalism is an aesthetic that requires a little discipline or none (I’m in that category) – just put it on and go!

  26. Design Chic says:

    So beautiful…now that’s what I call aging gracefully!!

  27. How chic and suave – love it!

  28. Acanthus & Acorn says:

    I’ve always thought CR is beautiful and a tux can be so sexy on the woman who has the confidence and grace to pull it off!

  29. Such an elegant lady.
    Love the suits. I have decided to wear nice suits with pants instead of skirts. So classic and beautiful.
    Have a wonderful weekend. Look forward to seeing what we will be watching :).

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Teresa – I do wear mostly pants, except in the summer. I’d really love to add a tux to my wardrobe!

  30. I have always thought Charlotte Rampling was a stunner, and the pared down looks suit her to a “T”


    • quintessence says:

      Marsha – You and I are frequently on the same page for these things so not surprised you like her as well!

  31. Brilliant ~ I adore Charlotte; she’s in the ranks with Deneuve and Julie Christie. You had me a tuxedo’s. I love a strong woman in a gorgeous tux & I love to wear one. Fabulous post!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Deb – Great comparison – love those two fabulous women as well! I’m jealous if you already have a tux to wear!

  32. Lynda says:

    Charlotte is so adorable. I really like her style all those years ago. She looks like she would fit in perfectly now! Very interesting blog you have!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Lynda – Isn’t she fabulous! And yes, she has a totally timeless appeal. Glad you enjoyed yourself here – do stop by again!

  33. Jennifer says:

    Charlotte is so dreamy, and just timeless. Loved this post!

  34. Debbi OShea says:

    CR is truly divine!
    Q., I am wondering if you ever saw her in Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet? It was a very dark, strange and provacative film. I had to see it more than once to unravel it all. It is an odd film to recommend, but I have never forgotten, nor her role in it!

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Debbi – I know of this movie but have never seen it. It always seemed depressing but perhaps I should try it – certainly sounds intriguing!

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