Catherine Deneuve & Yves St. Laurent, Iconic Fashion

I have always admired the French culture, amazing cuisine, wine, and fascinating history. In particular, I adore the French girl style popularized by the graceful and beautiful French Catherine Deneuve. She both captures her audience and enchants them with her allure. Deneuve is one of the greatest European actresses who worked with well-known directors, including Luis BuñuelFrançois TruffautJacques DemyRoman Polanski, and Agnès Varda. She was awarded 2 Cesar, 2 Venice, Berlin, and Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA. In addition, she was also a leading model who collaborated with fashion designer Ives Saint Laurent

“The Hunger” (1983)

The Hunger (1983) - IMDb

“The Hunger,” is a film that’s as stylish as it is eerie, blending gothic horror with high fashion. The film stars Catherine Deneuve as the enigmatic and eternally beautiful vampire Miriam Blaylock, a role that’s as much about presence and aura as it is about the costumes, which only serve to heighten Miriam’s otherworldly aura. “The Hunger” (1983), directed by Tony Scott, is renowned for its distinctive style, focusing less on a traditional vampire narrative and more on its visual and thematic elements. The film features Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and John (David Bowie), elegant and fashion conscious vampires living in a chic Manhattan mansion. Their style is a blend of modern-day sophistication and timeless allure, with Deneuve showcasing a range of costumes that exude an otherworldly charm. The film’s visual design, heavily influenced by German Expressionism and film noir, creates a captivating atmosphere. This is complemented by the high-fashion costumes worn by Catherine Deneuve, which seem to belong to a different era, adding to the film’s unique ambience, the film’s influence has seeped into popular culture. Deneuve’s costumes in “The Hunger” are a feast for the senses, a perfect blend of elegance and sensuality, much like the character herself.

Miriam’s wardrobe is filled with luxurious fabrics, including lace, silk, leather, and velvet, all of which are used to create a sense of timeless grace. The color palette is dark and moody, with a lot of blacks, deep reds, and rich purples, reflecting both the gothic nature of the film and the character’s vampire essence. One of the standout aspects of Miriam’s wardrobe is its blend of classic and contemporary styles. There are echoes of historical fashion, particularly from the Victorian era, which is fitting given the character’s centuries-old backstory. Yet, these elements are seamlessly integrated with more modern silhouettes, creating a look that’s both ageless and striking. Perhaps the most iconic piece is Miriam’s long, black, velvet dress with its high collar, which portrays a sense of power and mystery. The silhouette is sleek and elegant, with a hint of underlying danger, much like Miriam herself. This dress, along with her other costumes,

The Hunger (1983)

plays a crucial role in the film, helping to convey the character’s seductive and dangerous nature. The makeup and hairstyle in “The Hunger” also contribute significantly to Miriam’s character. Her makeup is usually understated yet dramatic, with a focus on the eyes, adding to her hypnotic presence. Her hair, often styled in an updo, adds a touch of classic sophistication, reinforcing her aristocratic persona. Catherine Deneuve’s portrayal of Miriam Blaylock in “The Hunger” is a masterclass in using costume and style to enhance character. The costumes are more than just clothes, they’re an extension of Miriam’s character, a visual representation of her elegance, immortality, and predatory nature. It’s a reminder that in the right hands, fashion is not just fabric and thread. I must admit that I have a soft spot for the allure and style of classic French cinema, especially when it’s draped in the creations of the iconic Yves Saint Laurent.

“Belle de jour” (1967)

Belle de Jour (1967) - IMDb

In “Belle de Jour,” Catherine Deneuve’s character, Séverine, embodies classic glamour and elegance, a stark contrast to the more relaxed and nonchalant fashion trends. Her wardrobe, characterized by perfectly tailored silhouettes, sophisticated dresses, and a

All Babes are Wolves: Belle de Jour

polished overall look, deviates from the contemporary images draped in layers and casual wear. Deneuve’s portrayal in the film serves as a reminder of the timeless appeal of simple elegance and the bold statement it can make. Belle de Jour, directed by Luis Buñuel, is a 1967 French surrealist erotic psychological drama that stars Catherine Deneuve as Séverine. The film, based on the 1928 novel by Joseph Kessel, delves into the life of Séverine, a young housewife who, unable to reconcile her masochistic fantasies with her mundane everyday life, she becomes a prostitute at a high-class brothel while her husband is at work. The film is renowned for its exploration of complex themes involving sexuality and fantasy versus reality.

Lessons in Style and Sexuality from 1967 Film Belle de Jour | AnOther

 

Roger Ebert described it as possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, emphasizing how its eroticism exists more in the imagination than in overt display. The narrative is noted for its elegant depiction of Séverine’s internal struggles and her dual life, blending her public persona with her private pursuits of her fantasies.

The fashion in “Belle de Jour,” designed by Yves Saint Laurent, is as integral to the film as its plot. Deneuve’s wardrobe includes meticulously tailored clothing that emphasizes her character’s outwardly perfect but inwardly conflicted existence. The film’s aesthetic is quintessentially French, elegant yet understated, which complements Séverine’s complex persona. “Belle de Jour” was a critical success, celebrated for Buñuel’s direction and Deneuve’s performance, which has become iconic in the realm of cinema. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and continues to be a subject of study and admiration for its stylish cinematography and provocative narrative. Overall, “Belle de Jour” stands out as a masterpiece of French cinema, notable for its psychological depth and cinematic beauty, all woven together by Buñuel’s unique visionary storytelling.

“Indochine” (1992)

Cinema at L'Espace: "Indochine" (1992) - Hanoi Grapevine

Catherine Deneuve’s role in “Indochine,” a dramatic tale set in colonial French Indochina, showcased her in a series of colonial-inspired wardrobes, which, while not the work of Yves Saint Laurent, were nonetheless emblematic of the period’s style – elegant, understated, and reflective of the socio-political tensions of the era.

“Indochine,” directed by Régis Wargnier, is a French epic set against the backdrop of colonial French Indochina during the 1930s to 1950s. The film weaves a complex story of Éliane Devries (played by Catherine Deneuve), a French plantation owner, and her adopted Vietnamese daughter, Camille (Linh Dan Pham), against the rising Vietnamese nationalist movement.

Indochine

Roger Ebert describes “Indochine” as intending to be the French “Gone with the Wind,” focusing more on boudoirs and chic rather than bluster and battle. He highlights the film’s excellent sense of time and place, effectively capturing the bittersweet and decadent atmosphere of the colonial regime’s dying days. Ebert notes the film’s long and discursive screenplay, finding it not very satisfying in terms of plot conclusion, but acknowledges the striking beauty and impressive photography of the scenes shot on location in Vietnam. The movie, according to Ebert, is an ambitious but missed opportunity, presenting a beautiful, albeit slow and composed narrative that fails to fully engage with the realities of the country.

The film’s story involves complex relationships and political intrigue. Éliane falls in love with a French Naval officer, Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Pérez), who then becomes involved with Camille. The narrative follows Camille’s journey as she becomes a revolutionary, reflecting the broader political upheavals in Indochina. The film also delves into the personal and political struggles of its characters, culminating in a celebrated legend within Vietnamese performances, earning Camille the nickname “the Red Princess.” The movie concludes in Switzerland, where Éliane and her grandson Étienne, who is Camille’s son, reunite with Camille, now a delegate to the Geneva Conference. This epilogue is poignant, marking the independence of French Indochina and the partition of Vietnam.

“Indochine” has been praised for its lavish period production, gorgeous and epic scenery, and the sweeping tale it tells across decades. Catherine Deneuve’s performance as Eliane was particularly commended, earning her an Oscar nomination. Director Regis Wargnier skillfully frames the drama against the colorful backdrop of colonial Indochina, winning a Best Foreign Film Oscar. The Blu-ray release of the film received praise for its impressive restoration quality, bringing out the rich color scheme and detailed imagery of the original film.

In summary, “Indochine” is a visually stunning film with a complex narrative that explores the personal and political dynamics of colonial Indochina. While it has been critiqued for its pacing and plot development, the film’s aesthetic beauty and strong performances, especially by Deneuve, make it a noteworthy piece in the realm of historical epics.

“The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967)

“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is a 1967 French romantic musical film directed by Jacques Demy. It stars real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac as Delphine and Solange Garnier, sisters who aspire for bigger things in their small seaside town of Rochefort. The film also features notable performances by George Chakiris, Michel Piccoli, Jacques Perrin, Grover Dale, and Gene Kelly.

The film showcases a lavish production with vibrant color schemes and a rich musical score by Michel Legrand. Its narrative is centered around romantic pursuits and chance encounters, intertwined with music and dance sequences. Despite its upbeat and whimsical tone, the film also touches on themes of love, longing, and destiny.

Danielle Darrieux plays the mother, Yvonne Garnier, who runs a coffee shop and pines for her old lover Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli). The story unfolds with various romantic entanglements and missed connections, leading to a heartwarming conclusion.

“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is celebrated for its artistic approach, blending the charm of French cinema with the style of Hollywood musicals. The film’s wardrobe, characterized by chic and colorful 1960s fashion, adds to its visual appeal.

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent revolutionized women’s fashion with his modern styles. He was known for empowering women through his designs, like the iconic Le Smoking tuxedo suit, which he introduced in 1966. His work in the 1960s and 70s, particularly his collaborations with muses like Catherine Deneuve, defined an era of fashion that balanced avant-garde ideas with classic femininity.

Yves Saint Laurent was a redefined French fashion designer, who was famous for epitomizing the essence of the ‘French kitten’ style with his groundbreaking designs. He was a visionary in the fashion world, known for his ability to craft feminine silhouettes that emphasized sensuality and sophistication, while also embodying a sense of empowerment and rebellious elegance.

Saint Laurent’s creations were a symphony of grace. He had an exquisite talent for combining plunging necklines, sheer fabrics, and thigh-skimming hemlines in a manner that was both avant-garde and utterly timeless. His designs didn’t just clothe the body, they celebrated it, highlighting the natural allure and beauty of the feminine form.

During this era, YSL’s designs became synonymous with a new wave of feminine empowerment. His approach to fashion blended classic elegance with a modern, seductive flair. The result was a style that was bold yet refined, a perfect encapsulation of the era’s spirit where women were embracing their sensuality more openly than ever before.

His influence extended beyond the mere aesthetics of clothing. YSL’s fashion philosophy was a testament to the power of attitude in style. He showed that true style was not just about the garments but about the way they were worn – with confidence, grace, and a touch of playful sensuality. This ethos of embracing one’s femininity with boldness and sophistication remains a cornerstone in the world of fashion, continuing to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts alike.

In essence, Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy in the late 1960s and early 70s was about much more than just clothes. It was about a celebration of femininity, a blend of elegance, and an empowering attitude that transformed the way women dressed and perceived themselves. His designs were not just garments; they were a statement of feminine strength, beauty, and liberation.

Yves Saint Laurent Catherine Deneuve 2024 | www.ecocarboninnovations.com

Yves Saint Laurent, contribution to the film and the glorification of red-carpet royalty like Catherine Deneuve, Jane Birkin, and Brigitte Bardot during the resplendent eras of the 1970s and 1980s. I admire him, not just for his impeccable craftsmanship or his visionary designs, but for his audacious spirit that draped the very essence of femininity in power, elegance, and an undeniable allure.

Saint Laurent was more than a designer; he was a revolutionary, a rebel with a cause, with style as a form of expression and a shield of sophistication. The way Catherine Deneuve shimmered with untouchable grace in his creations, or how Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot exuded a natural beauty, that was nothing short of cinematic magic. They weren’t just dressed, they were adorned, enshrined in the artistry of Yves, making every entrance a scene, every gaze a story.

In the tapestry of the 1970s and 80s, where fashion and film intertwined like lovers in a dance, YSL was the choreographer, orchestrating moments of visual poetry that would etch themselves into the annals of style history. I admire his audacity to redefine beauty, to challenge norms, and to clothe women in confidence and charisma. Yves didn’t just dress bodies; he adorned souls.

Resources

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Vanity Fair

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Melissa Horn
Melissa Horn
Melissa Horn is a commercial artist in the Metro Detroit area. Melissa produces fine art, drawings, painting, graphics, design, crafts, jewelry, fashion, Native American crafts, book illustrations, and music album covers. Her studio is named Vintage Noir Art and her arts and craft store is named Sleeping Earth. Melissa studied graphic design at Macomb Community College and studied fine arts at the Ray-Vogue College of Design in Chicago. She lives with her family of three children in a suburb of Detroit.

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