Since Flickhead’s Buñuel Blog-a-thon is sill going strong and I’ve clearly got Belle de Jour on my brain, I couldn’t resist sharing a few more brief thoughts about my favorite Louis Buñuel film.
One of the most memorable things about Buñuel’s Belle de Jour is the fabulous fashions designed by Yves Saint Laurent and worn by the lovely Catherine Deneuve. I’ve never been able to afford Yves Saint Laurent’s fashions myself and it’s doubtful that I’d look as good as Catherine Deneuve does in them even if I could, but I enjoy watching Belle de Jour just to gaze at Catherine Deneuve’s amazing wardrobe. In this regard, I suppose I have more in common with the low-class prostitutes in the film who seem totally enamored with Deneuve’s wardrobe as well. And who can blame us? Yves Saint Laurent was an incredible designer and his sixties-era fashions featured in Belle de Jour are absolutely stunning.
Catherine Deneuve modeling a Yves Saint Laurent design, 1966
Yves Saint-Laurent first started designing costumes for films when he was only 24 years old and working with Christian Dior at the House of Dior, but his real success as a costume designer came after he had started his own design house in Paris. In 1963 Yves Saint-Laurent was hired to create wardrobes for the beautiful Claudia Cardinale and Capucine in Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther (1963) and his designs impressed critics and audiences. He would go on to design fabulous wardrobes for Leslie Caron in A Very Special Favor (1965) and Jean Seberg in Moment to Moment (1965). His amazing costume designs were also featured in Arabesque (1966) with Sophia Loren, although the credit tends to go to Christian Dior for that film and you can see some of Yves Saint-Laurent’s work in the entertaining fashion focused comedy A New Kind of Love (1963) with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, which ended up winning Edith Head an Oscar for Best Costume Design.
In 1966 the 29 year old Yves Saint-Laurent was hired to design the wardrobe for Catherine Deneuve in Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, and Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent developed a lifelong friendship on the set of the film. The designer has called the lovely and talented Catherine Deneuve his “muse” and he has used her as a model many times since the two made Belle de Jour together. Catherine Deneuve has also insisted on wearing Yves Saint Laurent’s amazing costume designs in many of her films and besides an off screen friendship, the two developed a very close working relationship over the years on films such as La Chamade (1968), Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Liza (1972), Un flic (1972) and The Hunger (1983) which all feature fabulous Yves Saint-Laurent’s fashion designs worn by Deneuve.
Yves Saint Laurent is responsible for some of the greatest film fashions seen on screen during the sixties and seventies, and some of his finest work as a designer can be found in Buñuel’s brilliant Belle de Jour.