French cultural institutions don’t all come in a package this breathtakingly beautiful, which may explain why Catherine Deneuve is one of the most famous faces, and women, in the history of the republic.

Born Catherine Dorléac in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943, the daughter of married actors, Deneuve began her film career as a teenager, before changing her last name to Deneuve, her mother’s maiden name. But it wasn’t just a name change that created the screen icon we know today. Born a brunette, Deneuve became a blonde in the early sixties, a decision that for decades was credited to director Roger Vadim, Deneuve’s lover at the time. Recently, she went on record, stating it was her decision alone. To say it was an inspired move understates it considerably.

Going blonde helped Deneuve go platinum in every respect; since her breakout role in Jacques Demy’s iconic musical, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964), Deneuve has worked with some of the most influential directors in cinema, including Claude Chabrol, Roman Polanski, François Truffaut, and Luis Buñuel, in the groundbreaking “Belle de Jour” (1967).

Whether or not Deneuve’s coolness, which earned her the nickname “Ice Maiden,” is truly deserved, her froideur is part of the Deneuve mystique, which only grows more intriguing with every toss of that burnished head. There is simply no looking away.

The spell she casts is unbreakable, and so we have created a photographic l’embarras du choix to pay tribute to the face that has come to represent France herself.

A serious moment, before learning that blondes have more fun.

 Splendor in the grass, indeed.

Catherine’s crowning glory under wraps. What's visible is pleasing too, of course.

Sister golden hair surprise. Surprise, as in... take your breath away.

The sun that shines at night.

The hair is pulled back, but the lady herself is unfettered.

Catherine is someone's number one fan. Lucky boy.

Sur la plage, et adorable. (That's French!)

Young and in love, in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

Gold standard: 24-karat beauty.

A smile that lights up a room, and the great outdoors too.

She spun straw into gold.

Girl in the mirror: a modern masterpiece.

Playing telephone in Polanki's "Repulsion" (1965).

With Luis Buñuel. master and muse, on the set of "Belle de Jour".

Venus in furs, attending a Gallic gala. Even the cigarette looks perfect.

A smile like that, and they call her an ice maiden? Impossible!

Looking decidedly Garbo-esque, with a Gauloise.

Even the back of her enchants, though we wish she'd face the music.

Beauty with brains.

“Your hair contains a dream, complete with mast and sails.” Charles Baudelaire

That obscured object of desire: Deneuve’s famous face in hiding.

Profile in pink.

Top talent, with topknot.

Catherine keeps warm, and warms us.

Gauzy gaze: the actress through a soft lens.

In a pensive, dreamy state...Even that funny hat cannot diminish her.

It’s a wrap! Catching a chill and looking slighly put out, between takes.

The photographer shoots the breeze as it ruffles her hair. Hard to improve on this one, n'est-ce pas?

Reel life. Catherine relaxes in a screening room. Any men nearby may be less relaxed.

This lady likes her smokes- or had you gathered as much?

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