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Icons of Fashion: Audrey Hepburn

An irreplaceable icon who graced the silver screen, a gentle spirit with a heart of gold, a devoted mother and a compassionate humanitarian worker, are just a few ways to describe Audrey Hepburn… 

I was first introduced to Audrey at eleven years old whilst I was rummaging through my parents’ DVD collection and stumbled across a box set (which I still own today) featuring an angelic, elegant creature poised on the cover in a signature little black dress. I gazed at the titles adorning each DVD and out of each one, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Paris When It Sizzles, it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s which stood out to me. I gazed in awe at that infamous opening scene, where Miss Holly Golightly takes a sip of her morning coffee and bite of a danish pastry (which Audrey funnily enough disliked.) I instantly fell in love with Audrey and the elegance she embodies. I must have watched Tiffany’s over a hundred times and then discovered the array of classics which Audrey starred in throughout the 50s and 60s. 

Picture credit: worldcelebritydress.com

Audrey’s style has transcended from the 1950-60s, to the modern-day woman. Each piece Audrey wears embodies a sense of grace, elegance and refinement which resonates with so many women and young girls today.

When Audrey debuted as Princess Ann in William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1953) and won her first Oscar the following year, she became an instant style icon. Her fawn-like, ethereal presence on screen was rendered in the clothing she wore – a little black dress (as worn in Tiffany’s), ballet flats, feminine tea dresses, kitten heels, pill-box hats, elegant co-ords and cropped trousers all became associated with Audrey. 

‘She was an enchantress, inspiring love and beauty. And fairies never quite disappear altogether…’~ Hubert de Givenchy about Audrey.

Hubert de Givenchy was the mastermind behind Audrey’s iconic style and wardrobe. The pair first met in 1953 when Audrey was in Paris, hoping to build up a wardrobe for her new film Sabrina, which she was starring in alongside William Holden and Humphry Bogart. Audrey arrived at Givenchy’s salon in Paris, requesting to discuss this with him. Initially, upon hearing the name Miss Hepburn, Givenchy assumed he would be meeting Katherine Hepburn, a famous Hollywood actress of the 30s and 40s. When he encountered Audrey, he was spellbound. Not only by her unexpected visit but also by her gamine figure and boyish style. Givenchy went on to design the costumes for all of Audrey’s films, and what began as an initial film collaboration became a lifelong friendship. Audrey often spoke about the security which Givenchy’s clothes provided, how they are 

‘The only ones in which I feel myself. He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality…’

Offscreen with Givenchy
Picture credit: the cut

Although I admire Audrey for her beautiful filmography, my true connection with her is found through her experience with adversity and giving back to those who are vulnerable. This part of Audrey resonates with me the most. In 1966, after leaving Hollywood, Audrey devoted the rest of her life to raising her sons, Luca and Sean alongside her humanitarian work as an ambassador for UNICEF.

‘I can testify to what UNICEF means to children because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II. I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.’ Audrey Hepburn 

I thought I would share my favourite Audrey looks featured in some of her infamous film roles and also a few off-screen looks which I adore. 

Audrey in Hollywood:

1. Audrey in a pink Givenchy sleeveless crepe bow-detail dress, with a matching pinkhead-piece, photographed by Bob Willoughby © on the set of Paris When It Sizzles (1963) dir. 
Richard Quine

2. Audrey photographed in a white Givenchy satin bow detail dress and matching veil in Love in the Afternoon (1957) dir. Billy Wilder © SNAP / Rex Features
Picture credit: Daily Mail

3. Audrey photographed in a pink Givenchy ruffled, silk rose adorned dress, with a high ruffled collar in My Fair Lady (1964) dir. George Cukor.
Picture credit: flickr

4. Audrey photographed in a white sleeveless Givenchy tea-length wedding dress, white gloves and a matching bow-adorned veil Funny Face (1957) dir. Stanley Donen © COURTESY OF EVERETT COLLECTION

Audrey’s Style off-set:

1. Audrey photographed in a fuschia pink silk cocktail dress, adorned with fan-shaped applique accented with rhinestones and a bow-waist, finished with a pink tiara, in
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) dir. Blake Edwards COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL 
Picture credit: barbagallo.art

2. Audrey photographed by Bob Willoughby © in a white shirt, pink skirt and ballet flats at a villa she rented outside Paris whilst filming Paris When it Sizzles in 1962, from the bookAudrey Hepburn, Photographs 1953-1966, Bob 

3. Audrey photographed by Bob Willoughby © with Lp (the deer featured in her film Green Mansions which she cared for) in 1958, wearing a white shirt and pink croppedtrousers from the book Audrey Hepburn, Photographs 1953-1966, Bob Willoughby

4. Audrey photographed in a Givenchy white satin gown which she wore to present the Oscars in 1956 with her husband Mel Ferrer. © Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images