4 Life Lessons We Learned From Colette, the Trailblazing French Artist

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Bleecker Street; PICTURED: Keira Knightley as the titular character in Colette

What does it take to be the first? From the numerous interviews we’ve conducted with successful disrupters, there seems to be a formula of key attributes, personality traits, and, yes, failures that pave the way for female pioneers, or as we like to call them, Womaneers. Typically the series focuses on modern women, but today, in honor of Bleecker Street and 30West’s new film Colette (starring Keira Knightley in the titular role), we’re diving into the life and legacy of the iconic author who was fighting gender norms nearly a century ago.

We cover a lot of modern multihyphenates here on MyDomaine—women who balance multiple careers while also raising children, nourishing meaningful friendships, and practicing self-care. As just about any of us can attest, building a single career (not to mention maintaining work/life balance) can be a real slog even today, when we have more legal protections, more career opportunities, and aren’t (so) bound by antiquated gender norms as the women who came before us were.

Which is to say that we can’t even imagine how much courage and determination it must have taken Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873–1954) to develop a career as a writer in Paris around the turn of the century. To celebrate the release of the new biopic on the feminist icon, we decided to dig deep and learn more about her seminal works, keying in on important lessons that are still relevant for modern women working in creative fields. Keep reading to be transported back in time to France’s Belle Époque, and make sure to buy your ticket to see Colette, in theaters now.