28 November 2013

Vanessa Paradis

Only 14, Vanessa Paradis (1972) became a star with the worldwide hit single Joe le taxi (1987). Since then, the French beauty made several films and albums, became the face of Chanel, and was in a long relationship with Johnny Depp.

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no C 198.

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no CP. 104.

Sensual, Untamed, Mysterious and Frankly Disturbing

Vanessa Chantal Paradis was born in the Paris suburb of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in 1972, to interior designers André and Corinne Paradis. Her younger sister is actress Alysson Paradis.

Vanessa began to develop her singing career at the age of eight when her uncle, record producer Didier Pain, helped her appear on the local television program L'École des fans, a talent show for child singers.

She recorded her first single, La Magie des surprises-parties, in 1983 and performed it in an Italian festival in 1985. Although La Magie des surprises-parties was not a hit, it paved the way for the song with which she became internationally famous, Joe le taxi (1987), when she was 14 years old.

Joe le taxi was no. 1 in France for 11 weeks and, unusually for a song sung in French, was released in the United Kingdom, where it reached no. 3. It was taken from her first album M&J (it stands for Marilyn & John) which, although it gained a number 13 placing in France, drew little attention in the UK and did not enter the chart.

From 1988 to 1991, Paradis dated French singer Florent Pagny. In March 1989, at age 16, she left high school in order to pursue her career. She released the album Variations sur le même t'aime in 1990, containing a remake of the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side. The album was written by acclaimed French composer Serge Gainsbourg, whom she met when she received the best singer award at Les Victoires de la Musique in 1990.

Paradis made her film debut in Noce Blanche/White Wedding (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 1990) with Bruno Cremer. For her role as a moody 17 year old girl in love with her 47 years old philosophy teacher, Paradis won the 1990 César Award for Most Promising Actress.

James Travers at French Film Guide: “Although a teenager when she made this, her first, film, she portrays her character with an uncanny maturity and natural spontaneity. Sensual, untamed, mysterious and frankly disturbing, Paradis brings new depth and meaning to the traditional femme fatale of French cinema.” Regrettably, the promising young actress then decided to give up acting and concentrate on a singing and modelling career.

Serge Gainsbourg, Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no. A068.

Vanessa Paradis
Swiss postcard by Editions de la Lune, no. VP 106, 1989. Photo: Patrick Rouchon.

Smitten Men All Over The World

In 1991, Vanessa Paradis signed a lucrative contract with Chanel to be the spokesperson for Coco, their latest endeavor. In an advertisement shot by Jean-Paul Goude, she was covered in black feathers, portraying a bird swinging in a cage.

In 1992, she moved to the United States to work with Lenny Kravitz, whom she also dated at the time. She started working on a new album in English, a language in which she was now fluent. Written and produced by Kravitz, the album, titled Vanessa Paradis, topped the French chart and briefly made the UK listings (number 45).

One of the singles from it was Be My Baby, which made number 5 in France and gave her another Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at no. 6. After the relationship with Kravitz ended, she dated French-Slovenian actor Stanislas Merhar, until their breakup in 1998.

In March 1993, Paradis started her first international tour, the Natural High Tour; she performed in France, England and Canada. In 1994, Live was released in France.

Paradis filmed Élisa (Jean Becker, 1995) with Gérard Depardieu as her father. The film was a big success in France.

Other films were Un amour de sorcière/Witch Way Love (René Manzor, 1997) with Jeanne Moreau and Jean Reno, and Une chance sur deux/Half a Chance (Patrice Leconte, 1998), with Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

The dreamy black-and-white romance La fille sur le Pont/Girl on the Bridge (Patrice Leconte, 1999) gave her worldwide the status as an emerging actress.

Jason Clark at AllMovie: “Playing the object of affection of acclaimed French actor Daniel Auteuil, Paradis earned rave reviews and a place in the hearts of smitten men all over the world.”

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no. C84.

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no C. 133.


In Mon Ange/My Angel (Serge Frydman, 2004), Vanessa Paradis played a call girl in Amsterdam who reluctantly finds herself taking care of an orphaned teen-age boy after trying to do a favour for a fellow prostitute in trouble .

That same year Paradis promoted Chanel's new handbags called Ligne Cambon. The following year, she modelled for Chanel again for The New Mademoiselle handbag, and in 2008, she modelled for Miu Miu.

On the musical side, she was included in the French children's album and concert Le Soldat Rose (2006). In 2007 Paradis released the new album Divinidylle and started the Divinidylle Tour. Some concerts were filmed and a DVD/CD of the tour was released. Paradis won two Les Victoires de la Musique awards for this album in 2008.

Some of her later projects include the greatest hits CD Best of Vanessa Paradis, which includes the commercial jingle I love Paris in the Springtime.

In the cinema she starred in the romantic comedy L'arnacoeur/Heartbreaker (Pascal Chaumeil, 2010) featuring Romain Duris, and in the 3D animated musical adventure film Un monstre à Paris/A Monster in Paris (Bibo Bergeron, 2010).

In the Canadian film Café de Flore (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2011) she plays a single mother in the 1960s with a Down syndrome child. Paradis garnered a Genie Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 2012 Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscars).

She released an acoustic album Une nuit à Versailles (2011), recorded at L'Opéra of the Palace of Versailles. She also released Anthologie (2010), a set of DVDs with rare live performances and interviews from 1987–2007. In 2010, she also became the face of Chanel's new lipstick, Rouge Coco, and of their new handbag line Ranger. Her 2011 international tour included performances in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and Turkey.

From 1998 to 2012, Paradis was in a relationship with American actor Johnny Depp. They have a daughter, Lily-Rose Melody Depp (1999), and a son, John Christopher ‘Jack’ Depp III (2002).

Vanessa Paradis was most recently seen in the films Dubaï Flamingo (Delphine Kreuter, 2012) with Sergi Lopéz, the comedy Je me suis fait tout petit/Low Profile (Cécilia Rouaud, 2012) and the psychological drama Cornouaille/House in Brittany (Anne Le Ny, 2012), with Samuel Le Bihan. In 2013 follows the American comedy Fading Gigolo (John Turturro, 2013) with Liev Schreiber and Woody Allen, and in 2014 Homosapiennes (Audrey Dana, 2014) with Laetitia Casta and Isabelle Adjani.

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard by Ed. F. Nugeron, no. Record 235. Photo: Paul Cox / London Features.

Vanessa Paradis
French postcard, no A067.

Sources: Jason Clark (AllMovie), James Travers (French Film Guide), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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