Françoise Hardy, French Pop Singer & Fashion Icon Dies At 80

She’d been battling lymphatic cancer for 20 years.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Françoise Hardy dies at 80

Parisian pop singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy, who was famed for being a leading figure in the yé-yé music wave, has died at the age of 80. Hardy’s son, Thomas Dutronc, who is also a musician confirmed her death on Tuesday, June 11 via Instagram, with a photo of the two of them and the caption, “Maman est partie,” (or in English, “mum is gone”). Hardy’s death followed her 20-year battle with lymphatic cancer, for which she endured decades of radiotherapeutic treatments and even an induced coma in 2015. Today, her passing is mourned by hoards of music and fashion enthusiasts alike for her contributions to pop culture as a whole.

Born in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, Hardy was raised almost entirely by her mother. After picking up the guitar at age 16, she signed with her first record label, Disques Vogue in 1961. It didn’t take her long to burst onto the music scene — she had her first hit at 18 years old with “Tous les Garçons et les Filles” (“All the Boys and Girls”) in 1962, which sold over 2.5 million copies. Her songs consistently topped the French and UK charts — songs like “Comment te dire adieu” (“It Hurts to Say Goodbye”) and “Mon amie la rose” (“My Friend the Rose”) helped shape the yé-yé pop movement — a genre inspired by British and American rock and roll. Her melancholy ballads and encapsulating aesthetic seized the attention of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan; Jagger famously referenced Hardy as his “ideal woman.”

Reg Lancaster/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As her musical fame grew, so did Hardy’s cultural influence. Her unfussy aura is often recognized as the blueprint of the natural, partially disheveled French girl style. Between her effortlessly chic fashion — which featured perfectly-tailored suit sets, denim-heavy looks, and knee-high go-go boots — and her beauty preferences — most notably her signature cat-eye eyeliner and wispy brown bangs — Hardy continues to influence the It girls of today.

The multi-hyphenate’s free-spirited, bohemian beauty also became a source of inspiration for fashion designers like Paco Rabanne and Yves Saint Laurent. She made history as the first pop star to sit front row at a runway show wearing a leather coat dress and statement sunglasses; the Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 1967 collection, to be exact. Today, she’s recognized as one of YSL’s original “Le Smoking” influencers — the fashion muses who wore the label’s first suit sets designed for women. Hardy is also synonymous with the early days of Paco Rabanne’s empire. Her most memorable Rabanne outfit was undeniably the custom 20-pound mini dress constructed out of 1,000 gold plaques and 300 carats of diamonds from 1968. This iconic look is still affectionately known as “the most expensive dress in the world.”

REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Hardy is survived by her son, Dutronc and her ex-husband, Jacques Dutronc, a fellow musician whom she married in 1981.