The Fine Art of Fashion: Yves Saint Laurent

 Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent (1966)
Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent, 1966

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.

If you’d like to see more of Yves Saint Laurent’s wonderful sixties-era fashions please visit my vintage Yves Saint-Laurent Flickr Gallery as well as my Belle de Jour Flickr Gallery.

Recommended Links and References:
Official Yves Saint-Laurent site
Yves Saint-Laurent at Fashion Encyclopedia
Yves Saint Laurent at IMDb
Yves Saint-Laurent at Wikipedia

My Buñuel Blog-a-thon Contributions:
What’s in the Box?
Ode to Marcel
The Fine Art of Fashion: Yves Saint-Laurent

7 thoughts on “The Fine Art of Fashion: Yves Saint Laurent

  1. Keith says:

    Yves is one of the greatest designers to ever grace the world of fashion. He contributed so much to fashion, film, etc. I love the outfits that Catherine wears in the film. They are quite beautiful and add to her stunning looks.

    P.S. Kimberly, I’m sure you would look quite beautiful yourself in these dresses.

  2. cinebeats says:

    Aw shucks, thanks Keith! Maybe when I was 24 or 25 (Catherine’s age in Belle de Jour) I wouldn’t have looked half bad in a Yves Saint-Laurent design, but I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable in Yves’ designs myself. I’m afraid I’m too sloppy and casual, but I love looking at them.

    I’m happy to read that you enjoy Yves designs as well! I really want to write about costume design a lot more here at Cinebeats and I couldn’t pass up the chance to write something about Yves for the Bunuel Blog-a-thon

  3. Gautam says:

    Kimberly- I see what you mean now. I just went over to cindelica and found your post on the Britsh New Wave. Your reach in cinema is quite far reaching no doubt. As for my indulgence in British cinema, I have access to a vast collection of DVDs at the British Library in my city and I’ve decided not to rest until I’ve run through them all. I highly recommend the BFI DVDs, they have amazing commentaries and invaluable extra features. Also I’ve unexpectedly found some of the Free Cinema documentaries on Google video.

    Coming to your present post. I’ve always been very impressed by Yves Saint-Laurent. I’ve studied fashion design and I cannot stress on how important YSL is. I was mostly interested in studying street culture but the work of YSL is undoubtedly a major influence everywhere. I’m surprised you’ve found the YSL sketches for Belle de Jour. They’re fantastic!

  4. cinebeats says:

    I really wish British films were released in the US with as much care as they are in the UK. It’s shame that they aren’t! I’ve mentioned before in my blog that I find the British New Wave as interesting and vitally important as the Japanese and French new wave.

    Your reach in cinema is quite far reaching no doubt.

    I think it’s just my age probably since I’ve been watching movies a long time and I’ve always been interested in world cinema more than Hollywood. You’re knowledge is obviously very far reaching as well Gautam!

    It’s wonderful that you can approach films with some knowledge about fashion. I love costume design and want to write about it more, but my own knowledge about the topic is rather limited. I’m glad you could enjoy the Yves Saint-Laurent piece and the sketches I posted.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Hey Kimberly,
    I have been so overwhelmed with school lately that I haven’t had time to comment as much as I have wanted to on your recent posts, but I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your tribute to Belle De Jour. I love both Catherine and Pierre and the film is one I never tire of…seeing a restored print of it in the mid nineties in Kentucky’s biggest and oldest moviehouse was one of my great theatrical experiences. It is still one of the most provocative and beautiful films I have ever seen…your recent posts and screen shots have been fantastic…okay, back to writing another bloody paper…keep up the great work.

  6. cinebeats says:

    Thanks much Jeremy! I’m glad you enjoyed my recent Belle de Jour posts. The Bunuel blog-a-thon was a lot of fun and I wish you had been able to contribute.

    I’ve been super busy with work myself so no need to explain for lack of comments. Commenting on other people’s blogs is a bit of luxury for me lately due to my limited free time as well. Take care!

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