Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Alain Elkann interviews Catherine Denueve

Catherine Denueve
Photo by Bettina Rheims
Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve is working on a film set in Paris. She sounds a bit annoyed on the phone. She hesitates and asks how I got her phone number. She is suspicious. “It’s not possible. If you want to do an interview, talk to my press office.”
Before she hangs up, I am able to say, “I wanted to ask you a word about or a memory of your friend Yves Saint-Laurent.” The actress’s demeanour suddenly changes. Her voice broken with sorrow, she pauses a long time to reflect. She then responds emotionally:
I would like to point out one thing in particular. He is a person that can’t be replaced. He was an extraordinary, truly extraordinary man.
Would you say he was a genius?
He most certainly had genius in him. He was extraordinary in his work, different from anyone else.
Yves Saint Laurent and Catherine Deneuve
What kind of relationship did you have?
He was a loyal friend, a partner, so close that I opened my heart to him. I was very attached to him. The least I can say is that I am deeply sorry.
He called you “Catherine, my sweetness.” Was the feeling mutual?
He said I was the most adorable, protective friend. He adored me, and I adored him.
Did you consider yourself a sort of “Mrs. Saint-Laurent?”
I would send him bunches of white flowers at home. He adored that flower.
What does Saint-Laurent’s death mean for the world of fashion?
It’s an overwhelming loss. He represented a style, a world, and an era. Truly something that can’t be replaced.
Does he leave any heirs?
Talent can’t be inherited at all. It is something unique, which in this case, belonged only to him.
Are there other designers that come close to his talent?
No, nobody.
Was he the only great one in fashion? Nobody else is comparable?
The two greats were Chanel and Saint-Laurent.
What did Saint-Laurent’s greatness consist of?
Yves wasn’t just a designer. He was a creator.
With these words when it seemed as if she had forgotten that she said she didn’t want to talk, she is once again politely cold.
I beg of you to excuse me, but I really must go. I am in a meeting. I don’t yet feel like talking about Yves. That’s enough.

3rd June, 2008

Alain Elkann is an author, intellectual and journalist who was born in New York,23rd March 1950. Internationally well-known, his books have been translated into languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish and Japanese. Interview work in English includes dialogue with Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, To Be A Muslim, and The Voice of Pistoletto with the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, published autumn 2014 by Rizzoli Ex Libris.
Alain has maintained a weekly interview column for the Italian national daily newspaper La Stampa since 1989. His archive encompasses an impressive range of celebrated subjects, including award-winning writers and editors; film stars and directors; fashion designers and businessmen; artists, collectors and museum curators; politicians and diplomats; economists and historians; thinkers and human rights activists.  Two books of classic interviews have been published by Bompiani.
Alain teaches Jewish 20th century writers – from Franz Kafka to Primo Levi, from Philip Roth to Aharon Appelfeld – at Penn University in Philadelphia. He has lectured on art, Italian literature and Jewish studies at the Universities of Oxford, Columbia, Jerusalem and Milan’s IULM. He is President of The Foundation for Italian Art & Culture (FIAC) in New York and in 2009 Alain was awarded the prestigious Legion d’Honneur by the French Republic.
All work on this site © Alain Elkann 2013/2014/2015

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