“We write to each other often. I call her ‘Catherine, my sweet,’ and she sends me pale-colored roses.” These are words Yves Saint Laurent once spoke of French actress and cultural icon (also his muse) Catherine Deneuve. Deneuve, who was a regular on the silver screen during the 1960s and 1970s and in high-demand by directors like Roman Polanski, and the haute couture designer were first introduced when the 22-year-old actress visited the atelier at the suggestion of her husband, photographer David Bailey. She was in search of an evening gown for a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, and the appointment was the starting point for a longtime relationship between the two.
Deneuve, who was Parisian-born into a family of actors and began accepting acting roles as early as 14 years old, and Yves Saint Laurent became quite inseparable: Deneuve wore his creations for years to come (many of which were auctioned last year by Christie’s for a sale of Yves Saint Laurent haute couture—including a beaded dress worn in 1969 for Deneuve’s first meeting with Alfred Hitchcock), helped him develop forthcoming collections, and sat in the front row at his many fashion shows. Saint Laurent created dresses for events promoting her film Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, and he designed her wardrobe for Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour. Deneuve cited her relationship with Yves Saint Laurent as the most beautiful love affair of her life.
Deneuve was already known for her mod and chic style which perfectly captured French flair that was alight during the 1960s. Chic, A-line shift dresses; perfectly teased hair with headbands; and pussy bow blouses defined the blonde bombshell’s look and made her the standard for the effortless and iconic French phrase, ‘je ne sais quoi.’
And if Deneuve is a connoisseur of style through a fashion lens, jewelry naturally fits in her legacy as well. Deneuve—who harbors a love of more delicate stones and designs, rather than large, more bold pieces—has been a collector of jewels throughout her career and life, and not just for their beauty or importance to finishing off an ensemble. Thanks to having family members in the gem industry, Deneuve can diagram a diamond and knows the ancient way to carry loose gems: folded in paper. She has been known to speak knowledgeably of (and don) Boucheron, Chaumet, and Harry Winston, and she has collected personal pieces from French maison Cartier that she adored wearing over the years, including an nearly 27-carat Colombian emerald necklace and her Baignore timepiece that she was consistently photographed wearing.
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