Jean-Paul Belmondo may be forever associated with the French New Wave, but we will remember him as the original Indiana Jones meets James Bond character in That Man From Rio (1964). After all, Steven Spielberg reportedly had seen the movie nine times. Shortly thereafter, Life magazine published Belmondo’s smiling face on its cover with the caption: “The new-style movie hero — sexy, crazy and cool.”
On screen, the clothes was not that important element that made up Jean-Paul Belmondo’s unconventional style. Instead, it was his reckless tough-guy persona and easy, unforced charm, that changed peoples’ expectations of how a male lead should look.
Yet, his style clearly combined the impeccable sartorial tastes in well-fitted formal pieces and ultra casual wear that he wore with dishevelled nonchalance. Here are few examples:
The White Tuxedo
Heavily inspired by the adventures of Tintin, That Man From Rio features Belmondo dressed in a white tuxedo, walking the line between two buildings under construction in Brasilia. In this cult scene, it looked like Belmondo's character was living in his clothes rather than just wearing them.
The Knit Tie
Belmondo's approach to suits and ties was an extension of his attitude: sartorially inclined but at the same time, low key and understated. According to BAMF Style, his medium-colored wool knit tie in Breathless (1960), has a flat bottom and is worn in a Windsor knot, confirming Ian Fleming’s instinct not to trust men in Windsor knots as he had written in From Russia With Love three years before this movie was released.
The Safari Shirt
The Safari shirt evokes imagery of adventure, classically manly endeavours and unrestrained elegance. It looks great worn with the shorts on the beach, or with classic trousers for a weekend stroll. If you are still skeptical about claims that Steven Spielberg had borrowed from That Man From Rio in creating the Indiana Jones unmistakable look, take a look at Indy' shirt worn below his brown leather jacket.
The Casual Shirt
Another notable style move is that Belmondo had a flair for casual clothes in a similar way as Steve McQueen. However, his approach was more Riviera and less workwear, as seen in his use of shirts with one piece collars, casually rolled sleeves and the classic combination of a v-neck sweaters and chinos.
While smoking might not be cool, that doesn't mean that some people don't think they're being cool when they smoke. The New York Times found Jean-Paul Belmondo “the most effective cigarette-mouther and thumb-to-lips rubber since time began”. In the 1960's smoking was cool. Years in which the extraordinary face of Belmondo, could also served as inspiration for the Lieutenant Blueberry, one of the most famous western comic heroes in the world.