This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most stylish films in Hollywood history: Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The anniversary may not be until October, but a sparkling new print of the film which consolidated Audrey Hepburn’s position as a style icon is doing the rounds right now so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the wardrobe of beautiful Givenchy clothes which she wears throughout the film, starting with the most famous of all – the evening gown she wears in the opening shots when we first meet Holly Golightly as she arrives at the window of Tiffany’s.
Givenchy made two versions of this exquisite gown: one which was completely straight and was for Hepburn to wear as she stood still outside Tiffany’s, and one which had a slit so she could walk in it. She’s glimpsed wearing the same dress again a few scenes later… Indeed, one of the surprises about Breakfast at Tiffany’s is that there aren’t that many different dresses – the same ones pop up more than once, but with different accessories. We first see the other iconic black dress, the knee-length cocktail dress with the deep ruffle round the hem, when Holly gets dressed for a morning visit to Sing Sing prison. Her casual approach to elegance is highlighted by the way she throws herself together in five minutes (including the time spent searching for missing alligator shoes and careful eyelash combing) …
Mind you, if you simply alternate a couple of frocks and vary the accessories, then it is possible to throw your chic outfit together super-fast… Just a few scenes after its debut (pictured above), the little black cocktail dress is back – this time for Holly’s crazy party, probably the zaniest party in Hollywood movies. Having greeted her early arrivals while wearing her bedsheet – albeit very stylishly – Holly disappears into her bedroom and emerges in the LBD, teamed with a stunning bib necklace, statement earrings and the cigarette holder that’s familiar from the publicity shots.
And the cocktail dress makes its third appearance for another Sing Sing trip a little later – yet another example of how this movie is essentially a masterclass in accessorizing…
With the arrival of Doc, the blast from her hick past that Holly has done her damnedest to leave behind, there’s a shift in the Golightly wardrobe from round-the-clock evening wear to more practical, everyday gear. But it’s still Givenchy so it’s still terribly chic. Here’s Holly drowning her sorrows in a strip joint and still looking impossibly Left Bank..
Charade is the Hepburn movie to watch for inspirational outerwear: in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she has only one winter coat. But it’s a stunner: bright orange and funnel-necked, teamed with a fur hat, for Holly and Paul’s day of doing things they’ve never done before..
After Holly’s gone cold on Paul and has taken up with the dashing Brazilian Jose, she is briefly seen in a beautiful hot pink gown (teamed with matching tiara!) which is a departure from her earlier slinky black dresses. Ironically, however, she’s wearing the pink – and not the black – when she learns of her beloved brother’s untimely death. And, as gorgeous as the pink dress may be, it’s not one that people remember from the film.
Holly ends the film in a fabulously simple ensemble which is almost a throw-back to Hepburn’s gamine days of the 1950s. Popping out for a farewell stroll through her beloved Manhattan, she exudes casual chic in a simple beige cowl-necked sweater, black cigarette pants and loafers, and a black patent bag with chain straps.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is undoubtedly the film which cemented Audrey Hepburn’s status as a style icon and linked her forever more in the fashion-conscious public’s mind with the great French couturier Hubert de Givenchy, who had previously dressed her for Sabrina and Funny Face. Givenchy was only responsible for Hepburn’s wardrobe in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; the other female character, the older woman played by Patricia Neal, wore designs by a New York house, Pauline Trigere.
And if all these pictures haven’t got you in the mood for the film – or sent you scuttling to your wardrobe to dig out your black dresses – here’s the original trailer that audiences saw in 1961.