One of French cinemas’ most emblematic faces and and an ambassador of La Nouvelle Vague, Anna Karina was born in Denmark to a dress shop owner and a ship’s captain. Having begun her career in her native country by singing in cabarets, appearing in commercials, studying dance and painting, as well as being cast in Cannes Film Festival’s award-winning short by Ib Schmedes.

In 1958 – after a row with her mother – she hitchhiked to Paris, arriving in the French capital unable to speak the language and without any money of her own. Living on the streets, one day she was scouted as a fashion model whilst sitting at the Les Deux Magots cafe, and started a successful fashion career, having worked with Pierre Cardin and Coco Chanel (it was Coco herself who came up with her name, Anna Karina, a more commercial stage name than her original Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer).

One day, whilst working as a film critic for Cahiers du cinéma, Jean-Luc Godard saw Karina in a series of Palmolive ads and decided to offer her a small part in his debut feature film, Breathless, an offer refused by Karina as it included a nude scene.
But this wasn’t the end of their relationship, as the two went on to collaborate in Le Petit Soldat, Une Femme est une femme, and Bande à part, alongside movies by other directors, such as Jacques Rivette, Visconti, and Fassbinder.

Below are some of the doe-eyed actresses’ best moments, in black and white, and featuring her trademark bangs and black eyeliner.

Words: Lola Roftoples Mealha



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