Clear azure water, bobbing yachts, bright parasols, white stone narrow streets, tropical fruits and pastel roses, the French Riviera has long been a sun-soaked playground for European travellers, and never more so than during the Fifties and Sixties - its heyday.
No wonder it proved such an inspiration for our designers this season, who referenced the glamorous coastal resorts of this picture postcard stretch of land in their SS14 collections.
One of the first modern resort areas, the Riviera began as a winter health resort for the British upper classes towards the end of the 18th Century. It went on to become a playground for the rich and famous when the railway was introduced in the mid-19th Century attracting British and Russian aristocrats, and by the early 20th Century, artists and writers including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse also graced its glittering shores.
When Cannes Film Festival launched in 1946, the Cote d’Azure once again became a hotspot, and by the time the film And God Created Woman starring a young and beautiful Brigitte Bardot was released in 1956 alongside Grace Kelly’s marriage to the Prince Rainier of Monaco in the same year, the area was firmly on the map.
This was major for the Riviera, and St Tropez in particular, as it attracted a new class of wealthy international travellers, which quickly became known as the ‘jet set’.
Colourful posters by Air France and railway companies depicting scenes of sun, sea and happiness further broadened the appeal and encouraged tourism.
Glamorous hotels like The Carlton in Cannes and Le Negresco in Nice were where the ‘jet set’ stayed during their breaks.
Or, villas carved into the cliffs (very much like the villa our SS14 campaign was photographed in) were the very elegant alternatives.
Wining, dining on the palm-lined streets as well as relaxing and sailing its azure waters were all high on the agenda for any tourist holidaying on the Riviera. And this little corner of paradise offered all of the above in abundance – no wonder it was such a hit. Take us there…