The Francophile’s Guide to Looking Like You Don’t Care About Your Hair

Rachel Krause
The Francophile’s Guide to Looking Like You Don’t Care About Your Hair
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The stereotype of the Parisian persona—aloof, impenetrable, inherently cool—has long captivated American women; and likewise, we’ve become obsessed with French women’s hair. Just the right amount of disheveled and frequently long with tousled bangs, it’s pretty much the antidote to looking like you just spent an hour slaving over the blow-dryer. In short, it is jealousy-inducing, and we want it. Always have, always will.

Unfortunately, one cannot literally remove Jane Birkin’s bangs and transpose them onto one’s own head, but we can lust after plenty of inspirational fodder in pursuit of the quintessentially French hairstyle and its accompanying je ne sais quoi. Print the pics out, bring ’em to your hairstylist, agonize in the mirror every day until those aspirational yet ill-advised bangs finally grow out—it’s par for the course.

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She may have been born in England, but Jane Birkin is now considered one of the most iconic Parisiennes of all time—and her long, straight hair and tousled bangs have launched a thousand imitators.

Photo: Getty Images

Like mother, like daughter: Actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg has a messy mane that pretty much embodies that elusive je ne sais quoi.

Photo: Getty Images

Lou Doillon is Jane Birkin’s daughter and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s half-sister, so it's safe to assume that a masterful approach to perfectly imperfect hair is in the bloodline.

Photo: Getty Images

Françoise Hardy’s disheveled fringe is forever #goals.

Photo: Getty Images

Mélanie Laurent’s hair always looks as if it just happened to air-dry that way. What a life that must be.

Photo: Getty Images

Quintessential bombshell hair has its official mascot in Brigitte Bardot.

Photo: Getty Images

Audrey Tautou’s boyish pixie was the impetus that led countless girls to chop off their long locks in a post-"Amelie" universe.

Photo: Getty Images

Léa Seydoux looks like she doesn't even own a blow-dryer, in the very best way possible.

Photo: Getty Images

Former Vogue Paris EIC Carine Roitfeld’s swath of hair hanging in her eyes is unmistakable.

Photo: Getty Images

Caroline de Maigret is so French, she wrote a tongue-in-cheek book called How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. Getting eye-grazing bangs really, really helps.

Clémence Poésy knows how to make frizz; flyaways; and dark, grown-out roots work for her. Only in France.

Photo: Getty Images

Vanessa Paradis bamboozled us into thinking that we, too, could look chic with third-day hair and a center part. It just isn't that easy.

Photo: Getty Images

Catherine Deneuve’s aloof ice-queen look is far removed from the modern, messy-on-purpose vibe of today, but man, does it still hold up.

Photo: Getty Images

New Wave Fellini favorite Anouk Aimée had the blunt bob down to a science.

Photo: Getty Images

Current Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt is everything one could ever want out of a French style icon, complete with windswept bangs.

Photo: Getty Images

Model and muse Inès de La Fressange is the best example of how to make a chin-length cut cool and sexy.

Photo: Getty Images

Model and It-girl (no, really, that's the only way to describe her) Jeanne Damas perfectly channels her bangs-having forebears.

Photo: Getty Images

Marion Cotillard is the contemporary French actress we deserve, with the hair to match—tousled and shiny with that slightly undone edge.

Photo: Getty Images

Josephine Baker is an eccentric hero, and her sleek, shellacked curls were divine. Also, she had a pet cheetah named Chiquita.

Photo: Getty Images

Juliette Binoche kiiiiind of gives us the itch to go short. She makes it look so easy.

Photo: Getty Images

Laetitia Casta’s glossy, thick layers are clearly the result of very good, very careful styling—and equally good genes.

Photo: Getty Images

Okay, so Jean Seberg was technically an Iowa native, but her role in Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle—and that iconic gamine pixie—made her an honorary Parisian.

Photo: Getty Images

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