The Côte d’Azur, a little piece of paradise where the golden sun hits waters of an indescribable blue, was made fashionable in the interwar period by American expatriates, Gerald and Sara Murphy, and their circle of friends who included Pablo Picasso, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and various members of the Ballets Russes. Filmdom claimed a spot in the South of France in the late 1940s with the establishment of what is now the Cannes Film Festival, where stars twinkle in the sky and red carpet.
Celebrities…they’re not just like us, but even A-listers are susceptible to the pull of sand and sea—whether for pleasure, publicity, or a combination of the two. When I hear the word “Cannes,” the first image that comes to mind is an 18-year-old Brigitte Bardot charming the press in a a teeny-weeny two-piece. In a case of incredible synchronicity, the bikini and the film festival both debuted in 1946. But hers isn’t the only head-turning, off-the-carpet look to admire. The selection of archival images below offers a study in casual seaside chic. Based on them, an imaginary packing list would include some denim, a bathing suit and sandals, straw hat and bag, and a sweater for breezy days. Madras might be optional, but sunscreen’s a must.