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Jacques Demy’s Gifts To Pop-culture

Jacques Demy

‘I’m trying to create a world in my films’ – celebrated film director Jacques Demy has ended up doing so much more than he anticipated.

‘The Enchanted World Of Jacques Demy’ exhibition opens in Paris’ French Cinema Museum on 10th April. Curated by the French Cinematheque it showcases clips from his most famous films alongside costumes, photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures by artists influenced by him - among them David Hockey, Jean Cocteau, Niki de Saint Phalle and Raoul Dufy.

His cinematic vision, that of swooning expressionism, was created to keep the joys of childhood intact and has had a lasting influence on pop-culture.

Here’s just six reasons for which we’ll be forever grateful to Jacques Demy…

Anouk Aimée

Anouk Aimée in Lola

The now Oscar nominated actress was relatively unknown, bar a little attention for her ensemble role in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita when Demy , recognising her enigmatic beauty, cast her as the lead in his debut feature Lola. Her turn as a cabaret dancer caught in a love triangle in the 1961 film established her as a superstar.

All-singing, all-dancing Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo in La Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)

Demy’s seminal work - award winning Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, was the first truly modern musical, juxtaposing a continuous musical score and vivid cinematography with the relatively realistic story of a love-struck 17 year old (Deneuve) not getting her man. The mix of drama and glamour was the perfect fit for the future Yves Saint Laurent muse.

Björk’s Best Moment

The video for It’s Oh So Quiet catapulted Icelandic singer Björk onto the global stage. Director Spike Jonze explained it was inspired by the films of Jacques Demy – all saturated colours and the idea of bursting into choreographed dances on the street.

Le Baie des Anges

Jeanne Moreau and Claude Mann in Le Baie Des Anges

Gambling and the beautiful people is a cinematic fixture, but Demy’s vision of it was the original and best, with his film The Bay Of Angels in 1963, chronicling the poetic fall of serial gamblers Claude Mann and Jeanne Moreau in tragic glory.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

Catherine Denuve and Françoise Dorléac in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

Another Demy classic, The Young Ladies of Rochefort (Catherine Deneuve and her sister Françoise Dorléac) pops up on the catwalk as often as iconic film lists. The vibrantly colourful and frou-frou ensembles worn by the pair are echoed by Chloé and Christopher Kane this season alone.v

Björk’s Best Moment

Carine Roitfeld is a hard act to follow but her successor as the Editor of Vogue Paris, Emmanuelle Alt, wowed fans by making a video of herself and her team miming along to Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, a candy-coloured high energy performance straight out of a Jacques Demy film.

by Hollie Moat

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