WCW: Isabelle Huppert


Isabelle Huppert is a goddess of French cinema. She’s acted in over 120 films and is the most nominated actress for the César, the French Oscar. She’s been in so many historical costume movies that we have to feature her!


Figaro-ci, Figaro-là (1972)

A TV film about Beaumarchais, the 18th-century author of the famous plays The Barber of Seville (1775) and The Marriage of Figaro (1784). Huppert plays “Pauline.”

1972 Figaro-ci, Figaro-là

They went very “white wig” I see.

Figaro-ci, Figaro-là 1972

But the costumes look interesting — presuming that’s a stage costume on the left!


The Bar at the Crossing (1972)

An adventure film set in 1916 Canada. Isabelle plays temptress “Annie.”

1972 The Bar at the Crossing

Alrighty then.


Qui êtes-vous Monsieur Renaudot? (1972)

Another TV film, this one about 17th-century Théophraste Renaudot — a French physician, philanthropist, and journalist. Huppert plays “Marthe enfant,” which I think means the young Marthe Renaudot.

1972 Qui êtes-vous Monsieur Renaudot?

I’m not sure this is such a good look…


Histoire vraie (1973)

Unclear exactly what this is about, but it’s based on the writings of Guy de Maupassant.

1973 Histoire vraie

19th century? 1970s? Who knows!


Les Grandes heures de notre vie: La Mort (1973)

An adaptation of a Tolstoy novel set in the 1870s. Huppert plays “Lisa.”

1973 Les grandes heures de notre vie - La mort

She has a lot of hair?


Aloïse (1974)

About Swiss artist Aloïse Corbaz and set in the 1900s-10s. Huppert plays the young Aloïse.

1974 Aloïse

She does suit Edwardian perfectly.


Madame Baptiste (1974)

Another early 1900s-set adaptation of a Guy de Maupassant novel involving rape and suicide. Huppert plays the lead role of Blanche Fontanel.

1974 Madame Baptiste

And now 1970s hairstyles make SO much more sense…

1974 Madame Baptiste

The guy looks like a young Kyle MacLachlan with bad facial hair.

1974 Madame Baptiste

No idea, but it’s interesting to look at!


Le Juge et l’assassin (1975)

About a real-life 1890s French serial killer, Joseph Vacher; Huppert plays “Rose.”

1975 Le juge et l'assassin

Fuzzy, can’t see much.


Il était un musicien: Monsieur Saint Saëns (1978)

A French TV series that I think focuses on various musicians? This one is about Camille Saint-Saëns, a French composer active in the 1860s-80s. Huppert plays “the young girl.”

1978 Il était un musicien - Monsieur Saint Saëns



Violette (1978)

A dramatization of a real-life 1933 French murder involving Violette Nozière, a prostitute.

1978 Violette

She’s a Romeo & Juliet/Lillian Gish fan?

1978 Violette Nozières

I do love a good finger wave.

1978 Violette Nozières

And a chic hat!


Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

A French-language dramatization of the lives of the three Brontë sisters; Huppert plays Anne, author of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Les Soeurs Bronte (1979)

I Do Not Understand The Choices Made Here.

Les Soeurs Bronte (1979)



Coup de Torchon (1981)

A crime movie set in 1938 French West Africa. Huppert plays “mischievous young bride” Rose.

1981 Coup de Torchon


The Lady of the Camellias (1981)

The life of 1840s courtesan Alphonsine Plessis, the inspiration for the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. Huppert, of course, plays Alphonsine.

Lady of the Camelias (1981)

SO pretty! Is that fur?

Lady of the Camelias (1981)

True fact: add a veil and anything becomes fabulous.

Lady of the Camelias (1981)

Sleeve ruffles!

Lady of the Camelias (1981)

Great color combination.


Les Possédés (1987)

Set in the 1870s and based on a Dostoyevsky novel about revolutionary nihilists. Huppert plays “Maria Sjatov.”

1987 Les possédés

She looks like Meryl Streep in that one movie…


Migrations (1989)

A French-Yugoslav film about “the fate of mercenaries in the baroque wars of the 18th century, during the time of the Austro-Hungarian rule over the Serbs.” Huppert plays “Dafina Isakovic.”

1989 Migrations

I truly think this is the shittiest head necklace I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of head necklaces.


Madame Bovary (1991)

The 1850s-set story of a small-town adulterous wife, based on the novel by Gustave Flaubert. Huppert plays the titular Emma Bovary.

Madame Bovary (1991)

Oooo love the sparkle!

Madame Bovary

Gorgeous green.

Madame Bovary (1991)


1991 Madame Bovary

Such a beautifully done ensemble.


Les Affinités éléctives (1995)

A French-Italian film that’s an adaptation of a Goethe novel; looks like it’s possibly set in the early 19th century? Huppert plays “Carlotta / Charlotte.”

1995 Les affinités éléctives


The King’s Daughters (2000)

A story about Madame de Maintenon, last wife of Louis XIV, and the girls school she set up at Saint-Cyr in the 1680s.

2000 The King's Daughters

I’d definitely like to see this, if for no other reason than because it’s not an era done frequently!


Les Destinées (2001)

An adaptation of Les Destinées sentimentales by Jacques Chardonne. Set in the early 20th century, a Protestant minister leaves his wife for another and has to run a porcelain factory. Huppert plays the left wife.

2001 Les destinées

I watched this and remember nothing.


Gabrielle (2005)

Set in the early 20th century, about a married couple facing difficulties; based on a story by Joseph Conrad. Huppert plays Gabrielle, the wife.

2005 Gabrielle

Marital bliss.

2005 Gabrielle

OK this is great with the spangled net layers and the pearl choker.


The Nun (2015)

An adaptation of an 18th-century Diderot novel, about a young girl who is forced to become a nun; Huppert plays one of her mothers superior.

There are a lot of interesting costumes in this movie; these just don’t happen to be among them.


What’s your favorite Isabelle Huppert historical role?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

8 Responses

  1. Damnitz

    You missed “Les lignes de Wellington”. That’s a very boring film set during the Peninsular Campaign. But Vincent Perez and Isabelle Hubert are just perfect in their short roles.

    “St. Cyr” (2000) is a very interesting film and Isabelle Huppert got much of praise for her acting there, although I think that J-F Balmer (known for his magificant work as Louis XVI in “La Revolution Francaise” (1989)) was even more interesting as the old Racine, who had his troubles with the young girls.

  2. Nzie

    Well, some of these are lovely (wow that blue/print combo! and the one with the veil!). But I have to admit my eye was drawn by the WhatTheFrock moments…

    -Apparently 1916 Canada is roughly equivalent both to medievalish Disney Aurora and the ethnic costume of my Central European great grandmother from around the turn of the century.
    -I assume it’s ribbon, but what is that purple pom pom/sea urchin on the corset top?
    -Yes, that is truly The Worst Head Necklace® ever.

  3. Shannon Russell

    and to go with the worst head-necklace some “straight out of Joann fabrics” trim! Yikes!

  4. M.E. Lawrence

    I tend to adore Isabelle in almost anything, even “Les Soeurs Brontë,” which was pretty (unintentionally) funny in parts, but not as Madame Bovary. Apart from not being a pale brunette like Mme. B., she looks far too intelligent and alert for that delusional lady.


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