Rodarte Gets Breathless
It might be one of the most grating sounds ever caught on film: The young Jean Seberg bellowing “New York Herald Tribune!” on the streets of Paris in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 Nouvelle Vague masterpiece Breathless. But it might be one of film’s most indelible images, too: the gorgeous Seberg, with her shock of close-cropped blond hair, selling papers in her New York Herald Tribune sweater (left). For style-watchers, the sweater (almost as much as the star, and certainly more than whatever was in the Tribune) was the news.
So when the 50th anniversary of Breathless rolled around, accompanied by a gorgeously restored print, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte chose the design to reimagine for themselves. “The New York Herald Tribune top is iconic to the film; it is pivotal in creating the idea of the innocent American in Paris that Godard eventually rejects,” Kate explains. “And Jean Seberg is perfect in the film in that she represented, at the time, a sort of rejection of the accepted idea of beauty. She is one of the many subversions of the status quo that appear in the film.”
To accompany the re-release, the sisters tried their hand at redesigning a host of Breathless merch. Four shirt styles are available: Their spin on the New York Herald Tribune design (bottom); a totally original design inspired by the film; and two shirts printed with the new posters they worked up with illustrator Patrick Li, with French and U.S. flags. (See the posters, below.) The collaborative items are on display now in the windows of Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship; come June 8, the tees and signed posters will be sold there exclusively in the U.S. (They’ll be in Dover Street Market in London and Colette in Paris, too.)
“Kate and I saw Breathless in an old Berkeley theater that used to show amazing films while we were in college,” Laura continues. “The film greatly impacted us in that we found it to be a complete break from all the traditional narrative cinema we had grown up watching. Godard reformulated the visual language through which stories are told. In Breathless, he broke all of the rules and formulas within the lexicon of film. His use of wordplay, his interest in time, and his ability to translate stream-of-consciousness writing to images was groundbreaking. He is a renegade.”
PLUS: If you like Breathless, check out our Beauty Icon: Jean Seberg, and the other Nouvelle Vague flicks Kate and Laura say are some of their favorites: Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad, François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, Agnès Varda’s Cleo From 5 to 7, Eric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse, and Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend.
Breathless plays now through June 10 at Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., NYC, (212) 727-8110, www.filmforum.org; Rodarte’s Breathless-inspired shirts ($125 to $150) and signed posters ($150) are available at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, (212) 826-8900, www.barneys.com, beginning June 8.