a monthly look at the faces
that have made history


She may not be as well known as some movie icons, but Anna Karina, queen of French cinema's New Wave, is arguably the most enchanting woman ever to hit celluloid. All bangs and black cat-eyes, she might be described as the art-house brunette to Bardot's blonde bombshell. Coco Chanel played an unlikely role in the discovery of this Paris import by way of Denmark (read on for details), but Karina will forever be linked with Jean-Luc Godard. The perennially controversial and stubble-faced director, who received an honorary Oscar in November, laid eyes on the actress in a Palmolive commercial and cast her in his 1960 flick Le Petit Soldat. The two eventually married, although happily ever after wasn't in the script.

But their tempestuous collaboration produced one movie masterpiece after another—from war film to gangster saga, musical to social drama. Both Karina and Godard are secure in the pantheon of film greats: he a paragon of intellectual complexity and cool; she the vivid face and emotional catalyst that gave his films their lasting resonance and the style set limitless reference points. Jason Wu's Resort 2011 collection channeled Karina's mix of ingenue innocence and sultry sophistication, while the entirety of hipsterdom has her to thank for the immortalization of its preferred heavy fringe. "All you need is a gun and a girl," Godard once said of making movies. Given a choice, we'll take the girl.
—S.S. Fair

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