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Brigitte Bardot at 75: the exhibition

An exhibition has opened to celebrate the life of Brigitte Bardot, the global sex icon turned campaigner who is 75

BRIGITTE BARDOT is 75 this month and the first exhibition to cover her life opens on September 29, the day after her birthday.

The Carefree Years retraces the life of the sex bomb who was photographed and immortalised by the greats of film and still photography.

She said the exhibition at the MA30 Espace Landowski in Boulogne-Billancourt (home of the Boulogne studios where she filmed six of her films) left her “like a little child filled with wonder at a big cake – my 75th birthday cake. This touches me tremendously. It is adorable.”

The exhibition is divided into three sections and takes you on a walk through her life, from her early days at home, through the tumultuous party life of St Tropez and the film star years and, after 1973, the life of a passionate devotee and warrior for animal rights.

Ms Bardot has donated many of the objects herself and her early home life is recreated in a special space that looks at her bedroom, complete with objects and family documents, including many of the films that her father took of the family and the young Brigitte growing up.

The Carefree Years opens with Haine, Amour and Trahison – Hatred, Love and Treason – which drops the visitor into the whirl that surrounded Bardot.

When she burst onto the film scene France was in an era of austerity and her vivaceous looks, wanton displays on film and eager acceptance of star excesses saw the arrival of the dual phenomenon of Bardot the idol and Bardot the hate-figure.

While the film Et Dieu… Créa la Femme saw moderate success when first released in France it exploded onto the scene in the United States and was banned in several locations – and the notoriety made it all the more in demand.

When it was relaunched in France it hit the same success and BB went global.

An alcove in the exhibition is dedicated to the film, with special photos of Bardot and Roger Vadim, photos of the filming by Edward Quinn and Léo Mirkine, film posters and extracts from the film itself.

The themes of the exhibition run through each section – and always the images of Bardot with black-rimmed eyes and a cascade of tumbling blond hair and the sense of style that would create fortunes for the designers she supported.

When she married Jacques Charrier in 1959 she wore a dress in vichy rose and white created by couturier Jacques Esterel and immediately created an intense world-wide demand for the fabric.

The original dress – now 50 years old – is on display for the first time.

Whether it is Bardot the actress, Bardot the singer (there is a commemoration of her work with Serge Gainsbourg and the songs he wrote for her, including Harley-Davidson, Bonnie and Clyde and Contact) or Bardot the model there is a little of everything in The Carefree Years.

Running until January 31, 2010, it also looks at her life and her lovers plus her enduring love affair with Saint-Tropez.

The exhibition also includes works from the photographers who put her on pages round the world.

They include photos by Sam Lévin and Robert Doisneau; pictures by Andy Warhol and Kees van Dongen; and dresses by Paco Rabanne, Esterel, Christian Dior and Balmain.
Entrance is €11.

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