Catherine Deneuve was one of the leading ladies of the new wave of European cinema. She made her first big mark when she starred in Jacque Demy’s 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival. She went on to perform in several other Demy films and also the works of directors such as Luis Bunuel, Roman Polanski, and Francois Truffaut.

But those heady days were in front of her when LIFE’s Loomis Dean photographed Deneuve in 1961. At that point, even though this child of stage actors had been appearing in movies since she was 12, she was identified in the LIFE archival captions as “fashion model Catherine Deveuve.” (Though to be fair, Deneuve is known as a style icon as well as an actress).

Deneuve, who was born in Paris on October 22, 1943, would have been around 18 years old when she posed for Dean. Her hair was dark then, and when she appeared in LIFE’s April 3, 1962 issue, in a story headlined ‘Windfall of New Beauties,” about a new crop of young European actresses. (The photo of Deneuve which ran in that story was not from the Dean shoot but by noted glamour photographer Peter Basch). Deneuve was one of five young actresses featured in that story, along with another future star, Claudia Cardinale.

LIFE’s terse write-up about the young actress was: “France’s Catherine Deneuve, 18, is the fawnlake protege of director Roger Vadim, who made a star of Bardot. Direct in manner, haughty offstage but appealing in her roles, she excels in portraying adolescents emerging into womanhood.”

It was at the urging of Vadim, who also fathered a child with Deneuve, that she later dyed her hair blonde. She was blonde in her most memorable films, including Bunuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), in which Deneuve played a bored housewife who filled her afternoons by working as a prostitute.

Deneuve is often written about as appearing cool and aloof, which is not something she appreciated. In a lengthy interview in 2008 in Film Comment, she said, “I am shocked when people talk about me and sum me up as: blonde, cold, and solemn,” she said. “People will cling on to whatever reinforces their own assumptions about a person.”

In Loomis Dean’s photos, Deneuve’s eyes suggest a woman who knew much, even at age 18. In 2023, at age 80, Deneuve is still acting, appearing in the 2023 French film Bernadette, in which she played the widow for former French president Jacques Chirac.

Whatever it is behind those eyes, they still have plenty to say.

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve (center) prepared for a photo shoot, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve and her father, actor Maurice Docleac, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve with fashion designer Louis Feraud, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve with French TV director Marcel Cravenne, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve talking with French actor Christian Marquand (left) and actor-director Francois Moreuil (right), 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Catherine Deneuve with French actor Christian Marquand, 1961.

Loomis Dean/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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