Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Profile of a Vintage Fashionista: Catherine Deneuve

When we think of effortless glamour, we think of Catherine Deneuve, a megastar French film actress who first rocketed to fame in the 1960's.  It was Deneuve who practically created the image of the mysterious, sexy French woman.  

While Deneuve has starred in over a hundred films in her illustrious career, perhaps her most famous film is 1967's Belle de Jour in which she plays Severine.  Severine is a timid, proper housewife at night to her doctor husband, but works as a prostitute during the day to act out her sexual fantasies. It was complex, sexualized roles such as this that lead critic Frances Wyndham in 1968 to call Deneuve "a cool combination of the virginal and the vicious."  

Belle de Jour also began Deneuve's longtime partnership and friendship with Yves Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent created the iconic costumes for the film that are still referenced today. Most notable were military-influenced double-breasted coats in a variety of textures: fur, leather, and vinyl. These costumes added to Severine's glacial, but calculating exterior.  She is a tortured woman, but a woman in charge.

Deneuve's style has always been ultra-chic, ladylike and polished.  Her clothes were often classic and tailored and she managed to be sexy without showing a lot of skin.  Deneuve's style was less buxom than our other French favorite Brigitte Bardot.  While Bardot personified playful va-va-voom femininity, Deneuve had a darker, sleeker style.  Scroll down for a breakdown of our favorite Deneuve looks.

The 1967 film Belle De Jour began the longtime collaboration between Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent.  Her dark character Severine favored military-inspired, double-breasted coats.
Deneuve often wore her hair pulled half back, with an ultra feminine bow or ribbon. This girlish hairstyle shows how Deneuve embraced the contrast of "virginal and vicious." Other elements of Deneuve's classic style can be seen here: from her leopard coat, to toggled jacket to elegant bow dress.
Above: Deneuve is elegant in a draped pink dress, with big soft curls.  Below: Deneuve sits outside her native Eiffel tower in a classic leopard coat.
Deneuve often wore little black dresses over sleek black tights. Note how she belted the dress at her waist with a thin leather belt.  On the right Deneuve walks with David Bailey, legendary photographer and her husband from 1965 to 1972.  This time she favors a looser black dress with tights.  Note the big glamour-girl sunglasses.

Anatomy of glamour:  Big sunglasses, teased ponytail, statement earrings, vintage fur, tailored black dress, chic updo.

As the face of Chanel No. 5 in the 1970's, Deneuve further personified elegant, elusive beauty. 

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