La Piscine: Alain Delon’s Windowpane Shirts and Autumn-Ready Storm Rider
Alain Delon as Jean-Paul Leroy, moody ad agency writer on vacation
French Riviera, Summer 1968
Film: The Swimming Pool
(French title: La Piscine)
Release Date: January 3, 1969
Director: Jacques Deray
Costume Designer: André Courrèges
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Actually, I don’t care much for summer,” the glamorous sun-kissed socialite Marianne (Romy Schneider) explains, clarifying “just the in-between seasons.” As tomorrow marks the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, start finding your style for this transitional “in-between” season!
Hailed as one of the most stylish movies of all time, Jacques Deray’s celebrated sizzler La Piscine reunited real-life lovers Alain Delon and Romy Schneider as Jean-Paul and Marianne, a couple spending the summer idling at their friends’ Côte d’Azur villa. Jean-Paul, a failed writer who sold out to make a career in advertising, is dismayed by the arrival of Harry (Maurice Ronet), one of Marianne’s past paramours… only to find himself drawn to Harry’s bonny daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin).
As Harry inserts himself deeper into the couple’s romantic getaway, Jean-Paul focuses his attention on “Pen”, and the two introverts find themselves pulling away from an impromptu party that Harry organized at the villa. The duo bond over Penelope’s frustration with her father’s flirtation with Marianne right in front of Jean-Paul, but Pen is surprised by Jean-Paul’s ambivalence when he explains that “some nights, anything goes—or almost anything.”
What’d He Wear?
When not luxuriating—or murdering anyone—by the eponymous pool, Jean-Paul dresses casually for days at the villa, typically rotating between two windowpane-checked short-sleeved shirts. Both shirts are grounded with a white puckered linen base that take on the respective cast of each check, so the tan-checked shirt looks slightly creamier while the blue-checked shirt has an icier tone. (Some modern retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch have revived these lightweight shirtings, though you can also scour places like eBay for older pieces that also fit the bill.)
Jean-Paul more frequently wears the white shirt with the golden tan windowpane check. The shirts have casual button-down collars with an additional button on the back of each collar, a front placket, breast pocket, and box-pleated back. The elbow-length sleeves are relatively loose, providing a more comfortably airy fit.
Jean-Paul frequently wears black casual trousers, likely cotton, styled with belt loops, curved front pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms. He holds them up with a wide black leather belt with a tall gold-toned double-prong buckle that coordinates to ten double sets of metal grommets, with Delon usually wearing the belt fastened through the second tightest set; two brass studs shine from the other side of the belt buckle as well.
Another day, Jean-Paul wears an almost identical linen short-sleeved shirt but with the sky-blue windowpane that gives the shirt’s white body an icy cast. Similarly styled with its button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and back box-pleat, the shirt was almost certainly made by the same manufacturer of the tan-checked shirt.
During the day, Jean-Paul tucks the blue-checked shirt into his blue denim jeans, which appear to be the same Lee 101 Rider jeans that he also wears with a solid light-blue long-sleeved two-pocket shirt.
“You cold?” Marianne asks Jean-Paul as he pulls on his blue denim Lee Storm Rider jacket, to which he responds: “A bit.”
Similar to other superstars of his era like Steve McQueen and Robert Redford, Delon favored the Lee Storm Rider in real life; based on the placement and degrees of distress to the denim, this appears to be Delon’s own personal jacket.
Lee had developed the Storm Rider while vying for denim supremacy against fellow American outfitters Levi’s and Wrangler through the mid-20th century, introducing the rebranded Storm Rider in the fall of 1953 as a warm and hard-wearing evolution of its decades-old 101LJ “Cowboy Jacket”, characterized by a tan pinwale-corduroy collar and insulated by striped gray woolen flannel “blanket” lining. (As of September 2021, Lee Jeans still sells the 101 Storm Rider, though the only availably shell is a dark ’70s selvedge denim branded “dry”.)
The style would be copied by other manufacturers, but Delon’s screen-worn jacket appears to be a true Lee, based on the brand’s signature zigzag stitching around the six copper rivet buttons up the front as well as the type of pleats extending down from the slanted chest yokes to the hem, beginning under the rounded flap of each chest pocket. These pocket flaps each close with a single rivet button, as do the cuffs and waist adjuster tabs, but Delon rakishly wears both buttons undone and the ends of each sleeve partially cuffed over his wrists.
That night, Harry arrives at the villa with carloads of revelers that he met at Saint-Tropez. Jean-Paul has changed out of his blue jeans back into the black trousers, again worn with the belt with double rows of grommets.
Jean-Paul’s shoes are the same black leather jute-soled espadrilles that he had worn with his swimwear, again worn sans socks. Black espadrilles are relatively common, particularly in the canvas-upper variant (as affordably offered by ASOS, H&M, and Viscata), but leather uppers tend to come at more of a premium as observed by the respective offerings from Gucci, Hugo Boss, Paul Stuart, and Yves St. Laurent. You could also hedge the costs with the suede-upper “Manebi Hamptons” espadrilles offered by J. Crew in a black-like shade of “patriot blue”. (Availability as of Sept. 2021.)
Jean-Paul wears a stainless steel wristwatch with a round silver dial, secured on a steel bracelet. A watch enthusiast in real life, Delon had amassed at least one hundred luxury watches from Breitling, Cartier, Rolex, and more prestigious brands over the course of his career, eventually even releasing a collection branded with his own name. On screen, he wore two different Baume & Mercier watches (in Le Samouraï and Big Guns) and an Audemars-Piguet (in Comme un boomerang), though I’m not certain what brand we’re seeing in La Piscine, which was released during this same timeframe.
Jean-Paul wears the Storm Rider only briefly on screen, though it memorably reappears later when Penelope has borrowed it to warm up following their controversial swim.
How to Get the Look
Jean-Paul’s wardrobe in these scenes reflects a surprising degree of American influence, from the double denim (made by an American brand, no less) to the button-down collars of his shirts. Only the sockless espadrilles realign with the outfit with his European setting and heritage.
Perhaps excluding the espadrilles, the outfit also exemplifies how to layer for seasonal transitions, with the linen shirts being comfortably light in hot weather while the blanket-lined cowboy jacket adds warming insulation when the weather cools.
- White windowpane-checked linen short-sleeved shirt with button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and box-pleated back
- Blue denim Lee Storm Rider blanket-lined “cowboy jacket” with tan pinwale corduroy collar, rivet buttons, two button-down flap chest pockets, button cuffs, and button-tab side adjusters
- Blue denim jeans (or black flat front trousers with belt loops, curved front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms)
- Wide black leather belt with gold-toned double-prong buckle and metal grommets
- Black leather jute-soled espadrilles
- Steel wristwatch with round silver dial on steel bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, remastered for a new Criterion Collection release this summer and also now streaming on the Criterion Channel!
Fans of Alain Delon should also follow the Instagram account @AlainDelonArchive, managed by my friend @thesilverclassics!
My problem is that, if a woman shows any interest, I fall in love, and I’m helpless.