Yes, there’s a Belle de Jour blouse.
For his latest A.P.C. Interaction—an ongoing series of collaborations with brands and personalities including Goop, Carhartt WIP, and Kid Cudi—creative director Jean Touitou tapped French actress Catherine Deneuve. Giving the icon carte blanche access to A.P.C.’s Paris atelier, Touitou invited her to express her vision of chic touched with whimsy.
The results? A perfect capsule wardrobe focused around two key silhouettes: a navy grain de poudre suit and a khaki gabardine jacket-and-skirt ensemble. The pieces are named for some of the many roles Deneuve has played in her more than five-decade career. They’re modeled in the A.P.C. C.D. campaign by a dead ringer for a young Deneuve, and include a Séverine blouse (1967’s Belle de Jour), of course; a Nelly skirt (1975’s Le Sauvage); and a Gaby shirt (2002’s 8 Femmes).
There’s also a Marianne shoulder bag, which can stand for both Marianne Malivert, the role Deneuve played in the 1998 crime drama Place Vendôme, and the national personification of the French Republic, for which she modeled for an official bust in 1985. Perhaps the most personal, though, is the Fabienne candle, which is Deneuve’s middle name and also happens to be her character’s name in The Truth, Oscar-nominated director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s follow-up to Shoplifters, out now on VOD.
Below, BAZAAR.com chats with Touitou about his experience working with Deneuve.
It came about quite naturally, because we’ve know each other as neighbors for maybe 15 years. I live near the A.P.C. studio in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and I think she literally lives 400 yards from there. I bump into her on the street, and she’s become a very regular customer in our store.
She doesn’t have any technical knowledge, but she has a lot of intuition about fabrics and cuts—she has spent quite a lot of time around the Saint Laurent atelier over the years for fittings. The whole thing took four meetings, but two were just about fabrics. The first style she wanted to make is a dark navy suit, and she had in mind the name of this specific fabric, grain de poudre. It’s traditionally used in British naval officers’ uniforms, as well as Le Smoking, the tuxedo suit Yves Saint Laurent created. It’s very structured, yet at the same time, it has a very poetic fall.
We were not talking about fashion images. We were literally talking about how a fabric should fall. My brand has one foot in fashion and the other in real clothes. Fashion is about how to make the most sparkling piece for your runway show, which is a beautiful thing to achieve. Real clothes—I’m not talking obvious basics or anything—I mean “real clothes” in the sense of a jacket that has a nice shoulder.
She just gave sentences that we had to translate into a design and into a pattern. For example, she would say, “The jacket should look like a cabine and have a narrow shoulder and high waist.” That’s all. That’s maybe seven words. It could be interpreted in quite a few ways, but I knew exactly what she meant.
I love minimalism, but I also wanted there to be another layer to the collection. So we talked about her animals. She has quite a few very special animals. When she goes to the country house and it’s cold, she puts a cat on her shoulder, because it keeps her warm and the cat is very intelligent and nice. I asked her the list of all the animals she has had in her life, and from that M/M (Paris) drew a “Catherine’s Arc” print that appears on a scarf and a T-shirt.
I also love the green snakeskin-print pumps. She described the color to me as vert pomme—apple green—the shade of a ripe piece of fruit that’s almost fluorescent. Here again, she had no hesitation. On the table, there were maybe 15 color swatches—beige, gray, and navy—and right away, she jumped on the most impossible color. What I mean by impossible is if I had my sales manager next to me, he would have kicked my leg and said, “Jean, please block this.” And that was the beauty of this collaboration, we didn't block anything.
Well, I was a teenager in 1967, and [around that time], you had the first Pink Floyd album and Belle de Jour. So without taking any drugs, my brain exploded with those two things. Séverine, her character in Belle de Jour, exhibits this extreme contrast as someone who is a prostitute in the afternoons yet dresses in these quite elegant, severe styles, which were created for Catherine by Yves Saint Laurent. More than half a century on, I’m still shocked by it.
I’m trying to lead an exciting life. Let me give an easy example: If you’re the Rolling Stones for half a century, people would be happy to hear you sing “Satisfaction” every night. But maybe, as a band member, you’d be very bored. I really enjoy being challenged by other people’s vision of A.P.C. It’s if you said to somebody, “Come in my kitchen and see what you can do with it. These are my ingredients, this is my team, this is my stylist, this is how we do things. Please use it the way you want.”
Ahead, shop the A.P.C. x Catherine Deneuve collaboration.