This vintage Hermès swimsuit is the almost perfect replica of one of the swimsuits worn by Romy Schneider in the 1969 film directed by Jacques Deray, “The Swimming Pool”.

The movie is based on a novel by Alain Page. This French author had been very annoyed by his vacation spent with Françoise Sagan’s brother on the French Riviera, where the Parisian jet-set met, lugging their boredom and pretentiousness from one fashionable place to another under the crushing sun of Saint-Tropez. Alain Page had quickly returned to Paris to write down his experience with “a very dark story in the sun”.

The movie features Marianne (played by Romy) and Jean-Paul (interpreted by Alain Delon).

This amorous couple is enjoying the swimming pool of a holiday villa on the French Riviera when a friend of Jean-Paul, Harry (interpreted by Maurice Ronet) arrives without warning bringing along his 18-year-old daughter, Pénélope (played by Jane Birkin).

Harry is pretentious and snobbish, but is above all a former lover of Marianne and the arrival of these unexpected guests will disrupt the beautiful harmony of Marianne and Jean-Paul’s holidays.

Jealousies and rivalries will appear under the burning sun of the French Riviera, until the paroxysm of a murder (I note that as soon as Maurice Ronet and Alain Delon are surrounded by water, it ends badly).

An English version of the movie was made for international release, with the actors filmed speaking English, which was unusual at a time when movies were either dubbed or subtitled.

“The Swimming Pool” may not be one of the best films of the 60s, but it holds a special place in the French collective memory because it brings together an adored and real-life couple: Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.

Ten years before “The Swimming Pool”, when they were in their early 20’s, Romy Schneider and Alain Delon had a highly publicized four-year romance. Romy the good and innocent young girl and Alain the handsome bad boy shared a passionate love story. Against the will of her oppressive mother, Romy moved to Paris to live with Alain. They got engaged but Alain eventually dumped Romy with flowers and a farewell letter for a French actress. The romance may have ended in 1963, but the eternal fiancés remained close friends and when Romy died in 1982, Alain Delon admitted that she was the love of his life.

When Jacques Deray approaches Alain Delon in 1968 for his movie project, Delon imposes Romy as Marianne – threatening to withdraw from the project if Romy does not have the role. Jacques Deray, who previously approached Monica Vitti and Jeanne Moreau, is hardly convinced by this suggestion (“it’s hard to imagine Sissi in a bikini,” he says), especially since Romy is at that time forgotten by film directors. 

Filming lasted two months from August 19 to October 19, 1968 and the scenes were deliberately shot chronologically – which allows us to fully understand the evolution of the relationships between the protagonists, from the sensual lightness of Summer to the amourous disenchantment that we sense in tune with the arrival of Fall.

Alain Delon was right to insist, and Jacques Deray was right to accept. Alain Delon and Romy Schneider radiate their splendor and complicity in every single shot.

Apart from the fact that “The Swimming Pool” relaunched Romy Schneider’s career and allowed her to film in 1970 “The Things of Life” (the moving film by Claude Sautet), no one could imagine another actress in the role of Marianne. 

Romy never looked so radiant as in this film. She has nothing of the distant “femme fatale”, she has nothing inaccessible or unreal, she is the woman in all her flesh and sensuality. She is dazzling and the sparkle in her eyes, both mocking and sure of herself, makes her the archetype of the poised woman.

Her magnetism and her complicity with Alain Delon burst onto the screen, and it’s a safe bet to consider that the durability of “The Swimming Pool” is precisely due to Romy, whom Jacques Deray did not want at first.

July 15, 2022

Vintage Hermès swimsuit – Face A Face sunglasses