The 100th anniversary of the singer’s birth falls in December this year and her life and legacy is celebrated in an exhibition at the prestigious Parisian national library BNF.
“Letters that are sometimes very funny, like those of (actors) Pierre Brasseur or Michel Simon, lead us to realise something very interesting, (…) Piaf was someone who was very funny, who loved to laugh, who loved to party,” said Joël Huthwohl the exhibition organiser.
Her fans will also find some unpublished songs of Piaf on an old Polydor record exhibited – which was nearly thrown away but saved by the BNF.
Of course, there is the little black dress – a key piece of the exhibition - which is really the emblem of Edith Piaf, the dress she wore throughout her career.
That was “a neutral frame, very simple, which allowed her to enhance what she would sing, (…) essential to her personality, in the life of the artist” added Huthwohl.
Piaf came from modest roots. She was born in a poor district of Paris, Belleville - Ménilmontant, into a circus family and she gradually became famous, building up a patriotic image when she sang for French prisoners in Germany during the war.
Hundreds of letters, photos, films and recordings of the iconic Piaf are on display until 23 August.