“It was an extremely difficult moment for everyone involved,” said the French actress, speaking to journalist Loïc Prigent during a talk given at Christie’s Paris, where Deneuve will be putting her Yves Saint Laurent collection up for auction on Jan. 24.
“At the end of the show, I got up from my seat with Laetitia Casta and we sang a song together. Yves had no idea this was going to happen. He was already very emotional, but I could tell he was really shaken. A lot of models were crying.”
Photos from that evening show Saint Laurent gripping Deneuve’s hand. Prigent asked the actress how the designer had reacted once his very last show was over.
“He seemed a bit lost,” she replied. “He knew what was happening, but I think he hadn’t really realized yet. We didn’t mention it. In moments like that, you talk about something else. I think we just chatted about where we were going to have dinner.”
Out of all the clothes the designer ever created for her, one of Deneuve’s favorite pieces is a black satin dress with white feathers on the collar, which was on show on the upper level of the auction house. “It evokes another time, maybe the 1930s, while also being very stylish with its bird of paradise feathers. It’s a bit nostalgic.”
But that’s not the outfit she’s been asked about the most. “Everyone always asks me about Le Smoking,” said the actress, who admitted she still has a couple of versions of the iconic Saint Laurent tuxedo.
The audience switched from laughter to tears as Deneuve traced back her history with the couturier. “What she chose to share with us is so personal,” said American actress Sigourney Weaver, who was spotted in the crowd.
“Each item tells such a story. It’s very touching,” mused the actress, who is currently filming “Avatar” parts two and three in New Zealand. The talk stirred memories of her own experience with auctions: “Elizabeth Taylor got us all to donate our Oscar gowns for the AmfAR once, but it was a very long time ago.”
Once the talk was over, guests milled up to the first floor of the auction house for a cocktail kicking off the exhibition of the auctioned lots, which will be on view until the day of the sale. An entire room was dedicated to Deneuve’s Smoking collection, set against a backdrop of a picture of her alongside the designer. Beaded evening jackets were hung up against white walls, while evening gowns, ranging from leopard-print to black velvet, were draped over mannequins.
Guests including Bruno Frisoni, Elie Top and former YSL head of public relations Dominique Deroche took in the spectacular collection. Inès de la Fressange was seen admiring a black evening gown with a pink feather trim alongside her daughter Violette. Has the model ever sold her own clothes at an auction?
“No, but I will,” chimed in Violette.
However, de la Fressange fondly recalled her first bid during an auction. “It was for Roger Vivier, I was buying a shoe collection that we were going to donate to the Shoe Museum in Romans,” said the model-turned-designer. “I had an unlimited budget. I was sitting front row and kept throwing my hand up! I bought the most expensive shoe in the world that day. It was a big moment in my life.”