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Perfecting ‘Je ne sais quoi’: 7 Essential French Style Icons

The Italians may have invented sprezzatura, but the French patented being too cool for fashion altogether. For most French guys, flair is essentially a birthright. Consider the case study of Alain Delon versus Matt Damon. Both played the title character in separate versions of The Talented Mr. Ripley but Delon succeeded in being more compelling because he had that studied effortlessness-yes, that je ne sais quoi,. Delon wasn't the first and he won't be the late. Here, we've assembled a list of gentlemen that put the 'gall' in 'Gallic.' Take notes.

Yves Saint-Laurent

Yves Saint-Laurent

Lamutamu

Though YSL famously “detested fashion,” clothes seemed to love the guy. He made tuxes look so good that women started wearing them.

Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg

Getty Images

This guy made the cheekiest music of his time, all the while rocking that I-just-rolled-out-of-a-bombshell’s-bed look.

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Somebody Stole My Thunder

Even as he was copping Bogey’s style in Breathless (1960), the original Franco bad boy possessed a swagger all his own.

Alain Delon

Alain Delon

Die, Workwear!

James Dean had rolled-up T-shirt sleeves. Alain Delon had open-collar shirts that evoked a feeling of eternal summer on the French Riviera.

Francois Truffaut

Francois Truffaut

Films7

French New Wave, with its spate of style-influential classics, started with this man.

Jacques Dutronc

Jacques Dutronc

Jean-Marie Périer

This crooner embodied the quintessential French louche, especially compelling alongside a gal like Francoise Hardy.

Hubert de Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy

The Fabolous Birthday Blog

The “master of non-assaultive style” made subtlety his signature. Even when standing back and photographed with his muse, Audrey Hepburn, it seemed like the flash blubs were directed at him.

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