Audrey Hepburn 1954 © 2007 Mark Shaw

Eternal Elegance-Audrey Hepburn

I will never tire of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The opening sequence, the rendition of moon river, the lost cat that leads to the kiss in the rain – it’s all simply magical. The story alone is great but I can’t imagine that Capote’s novel about a call girl would have achieved such cult status if it wasn’t for Audrey Hepburn.

The actress was born on the 4th May to a Dutch mother and English father meaning that she would have turned 86 on Monday. Her life was sadly cut short by the all too common culprit of cancer in 1993. Her legacy has lived on in numerous ways from her humanitarian work to her classic films. However, it’s not quite as often noted how groundbreaking her style was. The pixie crop and the boyish frame were all anomalies in a Hollywood that at the time was consumed by voluptuous Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor’s hourglass figure.

Audrey’s slight figure was accountable to a much more sinister past. She danced in secret productions during WWII to help the Dutch resistance, the only way to live out her true dream to be a ballerina. As the war progressed, famine ensued and Hepburn suffered from respiratory illness, oedema, and anaemia. It has been suggested that she never fully recovered from this physical hardship and that her thin physique was a result of a lack of sufficient development and growth

Nonetheless, her beauty was luminous and in every performance she gave her look had a starring role. Given her iconic status it may be surprising to know that the height of her career spanned only 10 years and is thought to have been cut short by the criticism she faced for taking on the role of Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady instead of the original Broadway actress Julie Andrews. However, in that fairly short period she managed to display a variety of iconic looks from nightwear in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, sweeping skirts in Roman Holiday to black skinny pants and a turtleneck in Funny Face. Aside from her clothes it was this literal “funny face” that captured the attention of many viewers. Her cheekbones could cut glass and her bold, thick eyebrows would give the current trend a run for its money.

9585970676_f970aea3fb_o5786913287_4764b29815_oHowever, the most famous of all of these looks is undeniably the Givenchy black dress worn in the opening sequence of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Audrey and Givenchy had a special relationship, him calling her his muse. This is reflected in the cult status of the dress, a survey by LoveFilm conducted non 2010 named it the best dress ever worn by a woman in a film.

Audrey is still a prevalent feature of popular culture with posthumous features in the 2006 GAP advert dancing to AC DC’s ‘Back in Black’ and in a 2013 Galaxy advert driving along the Amalfi coast eating a bar of the chocolate. It’s not possible to assign Audrey a particular style, partly down to the fact whatever she wore looked stunning. Her beauty was much deeper than her glowing complexion and doe eyes and her secret was summed up by the lady herself; “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls”.

Images: Flickr