Style Like Alain Delon


It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but as a college undergrad, I was really into old classic films. Embarrassing because many such people are cliched and pretentious, but to my defense, I never bothered anyone with the subject. I had one friend who was into the same types of films, and together we’d go to the university’s movie theatre, where films from around the world could be seen for as little as $3. Afterwards, we’d hit a food stand a few blocks away, buy hot dogs for $1.50, and chat about whatever film we saw. 

The subjects of style and cinema sometimes intersect, and sometimes don’t, but one area they do is with Alain Delon, the French actor whose good looks belied a troubled past. Born in 1935, Delon had a rather rough-and-tumble childhood. He left a broken home at age four to live with foster parents near a French prison. When his foster parents were killed, he moved back in with his mother, got kicked out of numerous schools, and worked as a butcher’s apprentice under his stepfather. Deeply unhappy, he entered the military at age 17, only to serve about a quarter of his service in prison for being “undisciplined.” Upon returning as a civilian, he picked up whatever odd jobs he could find, including ones where he’d serve as a waiter, porter, and secretary. It was during this time that he’d befriend actor Jean-Claude Brialy, who would later invite him to the Cannes Film Festival. Rather miraculously at Cannes, just off his good looks and mysterious charm, talent scouts offered Delon a few movie deals. It seemed his luck had changed. 

Delon’s first role was in Yves Allegret’s 1957 film When the Woman Gets Confused, but he mostly became famous after starring in Rene Clement’s Purple Noon, the francophone adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley. There he played the sociopathic, but somehow sympathetic, con artist Tom Ripley. It’s said that it was through this film that Delon got pegged as the French counterpart to James Dean.

Delon was often filmed wearing things such as slightly higher waisted trousers and open collar shirts (many of which were unbuttoned dangerously low). What would otherwise be perceived as sleazy, I imagine, got a pass here because of Delon’s handsome looks (looks so good that songs were even made about his hair). Even when he was wearing something more conservative and “proper,” things always had a bit of an edge. Not surprising, I suppose, for a man with such a troubled past. 

Below are photos from the blog F*ck Yeah Alain Delon, showing the French actor in chambray shirts, flannel suits, Shetland sweaters, and (gasp!) pleated trousers. Nothing new, but many things here are worn in ways that appealed a lot to me as a young man (and still today). Inspiring, classic looks with a youthful, Continental heart. Just gotta be careful about those shirt buttons. 


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  6. rudynepp said: Great Post, Thank You
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    From Dieworkwear: It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but as a college undergrad, I was really into old classic films....