Audrey Hepburn has been a household name for the last seven decades, having revolutionized Hollywood and femininity, but she did not do it alone. Hubert de Givenchy’s relationship with Audrey was as beautiful and true as the pieces he created for her. Iconic images from Funny Face, Sabrina, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s would not be possible without the genius and artistry of Givenchy.
Although Hepburn preached that Givenchy provided her with the confidence she had in her films through each look, “The Audrey Look” was crafted by both Hepburn and Givenchy together. Its significant impact on the world of fashion, film, costume, and couture, can be summarized as an elegance of the blossoming realm of Hollywood, yet attainable to dreamers around the globe.
The two budding stars met in 1953. Hepburn just wrapped on her first starring film, Roman Holiday, and Givenchy was presenting his debut fashion collection which brought him international acclaim overnight. When Givenchy received word that “Miss Hepburn” wanted to see him, he assumed it to be Katharine Hepburn. When the stars met, Hepburn asked Givecnhy to make the wardrobe for her upcoming role in Sabrina. His initial reaction was to decline due to the demands of his forthcoming collection, however, he had been charmed by Hepburn and agreed.
The Sabrina storyline of a woman who returns from Paris and catches the eyes of her father’s wealthy employee’s sons was the perfect channel to launch the Givenchy/Hepburn partnership. Givenchy dressed Hepburn in a total of eight films, until her death.
“The Look” focused on simplicity in an era of “excess.” Hollywood was overflowing with diamonds, fabrics, and figure curvature, while Givenchy focused on an uncomplicated, copyable silhouette that radiates the same power. Patterns to Givenchy’s looks sold for as little as one dollar, so that every woman, no matter the stature, could feel that sense of refinement Hepburn portrayed in her films. “Women can look like Audrey Hepburn if they want to – by flipping out their hair, and buying the large sunglasses and the little sleeveless dresses. I created a look in order to make something of myself.” -Hepburn, 1989
The opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is known as one of the most iconic fashion moments in film history. The beehive updo, draped pearls, and black Italian satin evening gown, combined with an image of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) drinking coffee from a paper cup on Fifth Avenue is forever ingrained in the minds of movie-watchers and fashion fanatics everywhere.
Givenchy’s inspiration for the gown originated in 1925 when Chanel designed black “garconne” dresses that were tubular little black dresses (to be deemed “the Ford motor car of the searson”). Givenchy designed a sleeveless, floor-length dress with a slit and fitted bodice along with a matching pair of gloves for the opening scene.
Hepburn and Givenchy worked together on each look featured in each film; they were a team and treated each other as equals. As his muse, Hepburn wore each look with the poise and class sewn into the garments, redefining feminine beauty in a simple, straightforward way.
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