Pret-a-Reporter

Catherine Deneuve, Birth of an Icon

In a sweet frock at her first festival, she became synonymous with Cannes fashion.

Of all the chic actresses who have graced Cannes' juries, parties and premieres, Catherine Deneuve, 68, who attended perhaps 20 times, has had the most lasting style impact. "Each time she went to Cannes was a huge event, not only by the fact she was there, but by the choice of her dress and her ultra-glamorous figure," says Ines de la Fressange, the French style author, designer and model. At 22, Deneuve became an overnight star, wearing a sweet frock for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. By 1967, she had transformed into Yves Saint Laurent's cool blonde muse after he created her slim sheaths and trench coats, worn with Roger Vivier's buckled pumps, in Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour. That look, with her polished hair and darkly lined eyes, still is referenced today by Miuccia Prada, Tom Ford and Alber Elbaz. "She's the incarnation of French chic," says Jean-Pierre Lavoignat, co-author of Catherine Deneuve: Chosen Portraits. The films of Deneuve (she won two awards at Cannes, including an Honorary Palme d'Or) led to her in 1985 becoming the face of Marianne, France's national emblem, her image on coins and currency. The embodiment of Gallic style, she continues to wear the finest French labels, from Chanel to Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. At Saint Laurent's funeral in 2008 in Paris, a distraught Deneuve read from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, wearing a black satin trench and, of course, buckled Roger Viviers.

 

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