After a recent viewing of L'amour Fou, a documentary on the ingenious Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé, I was reminded that Catherine Deneuve (one of my favorite French starlets) was a tremendous muse to Yves. The two worked together during the late 1960s on the film Belle De Jour, a starring role of Deneuve's in which all of her costumes were designed by Saint Laurent.
The film, a surreal French masterpiece, is about Séverine, a woman who is dissatisfied with her love life with her husband and decides to become a prostitute during the daytime. Saint Laurent did such a tremendous job with the costumes, which should even be considered a supporting role seeing as they provide such deeper meaning to Deneuve's character.
While traveling to and from work Séverine, nicknamed 'Belle De Jour,' dons very concealing outfits. The looks often consist of a dark color palette, oversized sunglasses, long sleeves and a coat of some sort. Clearly Séverine is disguising herself, not wanting to be recognized for her scandalous profession. But what Séverine wears at work is the most fascinating costume of all. The Belle's lingerie is stunning. It consists of a demi-bra, high waisted panties and garters all made in a delicate lace fabric. The most striking aspect of the undergarments, however, is their color: white. White evokes an essence of innocence, which is certainly true to the character in the beginning. However when she begins to work and removes the lingerie, she loses her sense of naiveté. Oh, the genius of Yves!