How did you meet Catherine Deneuve?

Video Clip
© David Bailey
Catherine Deneuve
Vogue, August 1965
© David Bailey

(9 of 20)
BAILEY: I met Deneuve through Roman Polanski. Roman and I were friends—I think I introduced him to Sharon [Tate]—and he kept saying, "You're gonna love this French girl I'm making a film [Repulsion] with." I said, "No, she's short, and I don't like short women." But Roman kept saying, "You're gonna fall in love with her... I know she's for you." Then he talked her into doing some Playboy pictures to promote Repulsion.

Were they nude pictures?

BAILEY: Sort of... I think it's the only time she's ever had her tits photographed. Anyway, Roman convinced me to do the shoot for Playboy, and Deneuve and I just hit it off.

Was she the most beautiful woman in the world?

BAILEY: Nobody's the most beautiful woman in the world.

They said she was.

BAILEY: All women are beautiful. My wife now is beautiful. Christy Turlington is beautiful. Anjelica Huston is beautiful. Georgia O'Keefe was beautiful. There are all different kinds of beauties. "The most beautiful woman in the world" is just some journalist thing. Because believe me, none of them are that perfect.

The Chanel commercials were pretty convincing.

BAILEY: Yeah, I used to do some of the Chanel stuff with her.

What was she like?

BAILEY: Deneuve? Her screen image is cold, but she's not like that. She's got a good sense of humor... likes a good dirty joke. I love her. We're still friends.

Does she have any style?

© David Bailey
Catherine Deneuve
Vogue,August 1, 1967
© David Bailey

(10 of 20)
BAILEY: She used to go to a terrible designer, the one Brigitte Bardot used to go to. Finally I said, "You've got to go to this young guy who's the best thing since Balenciaga and Chanel." She said, "What's his name?" I said, "Yves Saint Laurent." And I pushed her to go get dressed by Yves.

Was she posh?

BAILEY: Posh? I don't know. We never really worked that one out. I think we both thought we were more intelligent than we were, because she couldn't understand what I was saying and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so we used to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

How long between the time you shot her for Playboy and the wedding?

BAILEY: Two months.

Didn't they call it the wedding of the decade?

BAILEY: It was funny. Mick was the best man. It caused a scandal in England because I wore jeans, and Catherine wore a black dress and smoked all through the ceremony. The man kept saying, "Do you mind?" And then they did all that nonsense about, "Do you take this man to be your... " and Catherine turned to me and said, "What's he talking about?"

In those days, how much money did you make?

BAILEY: Oh, a lot. In a way, I made more then than I do now. Now I don't make what Bruce Weber makes. But you can't make that kind of money in Europe, especially in England. Germans pay well, but the English are pretty mean about paying photographers.

And your life with Deneuve consisted of what?

BAILEY: Well, I got involved a lot with the French cinema. I met all those Frogs. Catherine did Belle De Jour, so I met Buouel, who was great. Didn't like Truffaut. And I thought Vadim was an awful man. But, you know, it added another texture to life.