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Francoise Hardy: The French Singer Who Embodied ’60s Style

She just passed away at 80, but her music and style will live forever

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Francoise Hardy may not be a household name in the US, but chances are you’ve seen the impact of her music and style, even if you haven’t realized it. The French singer rose to prominence in the early ’60s with dreamy, romantic songs like “Tous les Garçons et les Filles,” “Dans le Monde Entier” and “Le Temps de L’amour,” and became one of France’s bestselling artists.

Over the years, many generations of American listeners have been drawn to Hardy’s mod fashion sense and plaintive voice. Even if you don’t speak French, the emotion of her songs could always be easily felt, and when she passed away on June 11 at age 80 countless fans mourned the loss of a ’60s icon. Here’s a look back at Francoise Hardy, in all her inimitable French coolness.

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A skillful songwriter

Francois Hardy playing guitar in 1962
Francoise Hardy in 1962Getty

Hardy wrote many of her own songs in an era when it was common for women to sings songs written by others. In an interview, she said, “I am incapable of dissimulating and lying. Writing a song, on the contrary, forces you to go deep into what you have lived, and felt.”

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Francoise Hardy onstage in 1968
Francoise Hardy onstage in 1968Getty

The perfect cat-eye

Francoise Hardy poses for a portrat in circa 1965
Francoise Hardy in 1965Getty

Hardy was a natural beauty, and her flawless cat-eye makeup and insouciant bangs had a major impact on ’60s style. The singer’s charisma was such that Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and David Bowie all admired her. As she coyly said in a 2018 interview, “I think I was a source of fascination for the English pop musicians.”

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Francoise Hardy in 1966
Francoise Hardy in 1966Getty

Francoise Hardy on the big screen

 Jack Brabham with french singer and actress Françoise Hardy during the shooting of John Frankenheimer's film "Grand Prix in Monza, during the 1966 Grand Prix of Italy
Francoise Hardy and race car driver Jack Brabham in Grand Prix (1966)Getty

Hardy dabbled in acting in the ’60s and ’70s, making brief appearances in films like What’s New Pussycat? and Masculin Féminin. She wasn’t a fan of acting, telling The New York Times, “Music… allow[s] you to go deep into yourself and how you feel, while cinema is about playing a part, playing a character who might be miles away from who you are.”

One of her most notable roles was in the 1966 car-racing epic Grand Prix. With her striped minidress and go-go boots, she epitomized casual ’60s chic.

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Francoise Hardy during the filming of 'Grand Prix' 1966
Francoise Hardy during the filming of Grand Prix (1966)Getty

Space age style

Francoise Hardy wearing a space age Paco Rabanne dress with Salvador Dali and Rabanne in 1968
Francoise Hardy with artist Salvador Dali and fashion designer Paco Rabanne in 1968Getty

In the ’60s fashion took a turn toward the youthful, daring and futuristic. Hardy was at the forefront of this movement, as seen in this shot where she wears a metal minidress by mod fashion designer Paco Rabanne.

Rabanne’s metal dresses blurred the line between fashion and art, as evidenced by surrealist artist Salvador Dali‘s presence here, and this dress was valued at millions of dollars and took 2,000 hours to assemble.

The singer wears a space age metallic catsuit in 1968
Francoise Hardy wears a space age metallic catsuit in 1968Getty

Written in the stars

The singer in 1969
Francoise Hardy in 1969Getty

In addition to being a pop star, Hardy also developed an unexpected career as an astrologer. She first became interested in the subject in the ’60s, and contributed to astrology books in the late ’70s. In the ’80s, she had an astrology radio show, and she went on to write astrology articles for a Swiss newspaper. She published her own book of astrology, Les rythmes du zodiaque, in 2003.

In an interview, she said, “We are all conditioned by a lot of things… and the situation of the solar system at the birth moment is also partly conditioning us. For instance the rhythms of this system influence not our destiny, but the way we behave: are we slow or quick, do we have flexibility or not, are we open to the outside world, to the others or not, selective or not, things like that.”

The surprising shyness of Francoise Hardy

The singer in 1965
Francoise Hardy in 1965Getty

Even though Hardy became known as a ’60s sex symbol, she always possessed a surprising shyness and a modesty about her musical abilities, telling The Guardian, “I was unbelievably innocent,” and when it came to songwriting, “I was so young then and untutored. I did not know anything about this stuff. Absolutely nothing. Some of those early songs are just terrible. At that time, musical sophistication was really very far from my mind.”

Hardy may have often doubted herself, but her songs have certainly stood the test of time, and she’ll forever be a source of style inspiration whose music transports us to a faraway time and place.

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