French teenager Elsa Leroy was plucked from obscurity to become the face of Mademoiselle âge tendre magazine for 1965. Almost inevitably, this led to a recording contract and also to an appearance in the classic Jean-Luc Godard film Masculin féminin.
Elsa Leroy was brought up in Clamart, in the suburbs of Paris. From an early age she wanted to be an actress.
Aged 18, she saw an advert for the competition to find Mademoiselle âge tendre for 1965. The winner would act as a kind of ambassador for the magazine of the same name. She gathered the 50 signatures of support she needed to enter. The competition ran for several months in the magazine while the contestants were whittled down to one. On 16 May 1965 she was crowned the winner. She won a car, lunch with Johnny Hallyday and a trip to Tahiti.
She was also given a job on the magazine working on the beauty pages and, after a year, took over as fashion editor.
Needless to say, it was only a matter of time before she was offered a recording contract. She was hesitant about the prospect, believing that she was no great singer.
Nevertheless, in the spring of 1966, she turned up at a studio one evening to record four songs – and didn’t leave until five o’clock the following morning.
An EP was issued in May 1966. The choice of Comment fais-tu?, an adaptation of You turn me on by Ian Whitcomb, as the lead track was perhaps surprising. Though it has a certain charm, Elsa sounded more comfortable on the other three tracks, Mieux vaut tard que jamais (a cover of Just a little, by American group The Beau Brummels), the original Quelle foule, quelle foule! and Où va le vent (a version of Skeeter Davis’ international hit The end of the world). The songs were arranged by Gérard Hugé, the man behind songs by Pussy Cat and Stella.
Comment fais-tu? received airplay but the EP didn’t sell as many copies as hoped and Elsa was relieved that no one suggested she try for a follow up.
Instead, she got to follow her dream of becoming an actress. She appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1966 classic film Masculin féminin, alongside Chantal Goya, playing the part of an average teenager of the day. She was also up for the lead in Jean Aurel’s 1967 film Lamiel, though the part ultimately went to Anna Karina.
Elsa went on to do some modelling before meeting Alain Figaret, who she married. The pair set up a shop selling shirts and blouses they had designed.
With thanks to Christian Eudeline for additional information.
Sixties girls, vol 5
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Mieux vaut tard que jamais
Quelle foule, quelle foule!