Catherine Deneuve – the most iconic French actress with career that spans more than a hundred films, known for playing cold blondes with hidden deepnesses in the work of Europe’s greatest directors. Yves Saint Laurent – not only “a designer”, a genius, who understood fashion as a contrast. A contrast between a seditious elegance where masculine meets with femininity, everyday-wear with couture and where purity and sexiness play the main role. The fact, that these two people created the long lasting partnership, where he exclusively designed many screen costumes for her, didn’t come by an accident. As he was considered as a creator of powerfull elegant couture, bringing comfort and confidence together, she was a typical representant of a modern women with outstanding sophistication. These two facts were the starter of the new era. The era, where haute couture in connection to good acting represents the most symbolical example of film as an art. The era, where the “frozen and timeless look” was created.
They started working together during filming Belle de Jour in 1967, directed by Luis Buñuel, and their cooperation, based also on mutual admiration for each other, lasted for more than thirty years. During this period Saint Laurent created for Deneuve mainly clothes inspired by the male wardrobe represented by tuxedos, safari jackets, sporty trousers and, of course, trench coats.
Catherine at Belle de Jour
In Belle de Jour, Saint Laurent made an signifiant influence. Luis Buñuel wanted the main character, Séverine- a Parisian bourgeoise with masochistic inclinations, to be seen as in the most discreet possible way, nothing explicit for the very first time. So, this ultra sophistication must be mentioned in the Séverines wardrobe. Everything, from her perfectly military styled coat to little black dress with white silk French cuffs and collar, combining with Roger Vivier black shoes, was made with sophistication. And this was Saint Laurents credit. His costumes perfectly fit into Buñuels ideas of the main point of impression- sophisticated but also inexplicited, denominating coolness and containment through their simple and elegant lines, but also provoking with their intensive femininity.
Belle de Jour
La Siréne Du Mississipi, another film (1969), directed by Francois Truffaut, where Deneuve met Saint Laurent, is an exploration of loneliness and love, suggesting an uncertain future. The set of the film was divided into two locations, the first one took place on Reunion Island, the second one in France (Aix-en- Provence). Saint Laurent perfectly balanced his sartotial stamp between these two and produced the image of a sensuous woman with selective and expensive taste. In the first part, he used some pieces from his Spring/Summer 1967 haute couture collection, especially significant safari jackets and skirts, leather belt and mini cross-body bag, all perfectly appropriate for hot weather conditions. The costumes from the second part of film, are a little bit simple- a sleeveless dress in a pale colour (to help create a youthful look), pleated skirt with white shirt and tie, knitted cardigan and a neckline blouse with a wraparound skirt.
La Siréne Du Mississipi
In The Hunger (1983), directed by Tony Scott, was Deneuve personally dressed by Saint Laurent to achieve one point- to get her character apart from everyone else. While there was a big retro atmosphere and everyone was dressed in expressly modern way typical for that period, Deneuves “costumes“ were filtered through an 80s aesthetic to bring timeless elegance with vintage feel. The intention for this came from the fact she starred as an immortal vampire, a very old vampire. Even her clothes looked to be inspired by the elegance of the 1940s, it still looked timeless and unclassifiable. Saint Laurent with his puffy shoulders, black leather hat and stylish sunglasses helped her create the vision of powerfull woman, who represents “Old World sophistication and decadence“ and he did an amazing job.