Tag Archives: Audrey Hepburn

A 1950s Christmas Carol

Carol 2Yesterday I was at a press screening of the most gorgeous-looking film I’ve seen this year. Carol is its title, and it was directed by Todd Haynes – who also directed the similarly ravishing-looking Far From Heaven back in 2002. To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced by the characters or gripped by the plot but I was utterly seduced by the autumnal palette, slightly grainy film and – most of all – the  way the two central characters, socialite Carol (Cate Blanchett) and young department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara), looked. (Scroll to the end of this post for more images plus trailer.) Anyone who loves and appreciates 1950s style and beauty, as I do, will not be able to take their eyes off the screen!

The plot centred on the love affair between these two women – and it was a bit like watching Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn (in Sabrina – pre-Paris transformation) getting together. They both look amazing in clothes designed by costume designing legend Sandy Powell: Blanchett sports chic suits or fitted dresses with silk scarves and elegant jewellery, tidy little hats and a ubiquitous mink, while Mara wears simpler, gamine gear. (Indeed, the pinafore-turtle neck combo she sports for Christmas in the country is a direct lift from Sabrina.)

In an interview earlier this year, Blanchett said: “The mink was old and it kept falling apart. Between takes, Sandy Powell  the costume designer, would sew it back together by hand. I considered changing coats, but when you find the right thing, you know immediately. That coat was the one to tell Carol’s story. It was perfect.”Carol 6

Just as perfect and every bit as striking was the make-up look created for Blanchett by her regular movie make-up artist Morag Ross, who told the MakeUp411 website: “The character of Carol Aird was a sophisticated, wealthy woman, so the make-up and hair had to reflect that. As was the norm of the period, she was always made-up and lipsticked, always put-together and elegant when in public. When the two women go on their road trip the look became more relaxed and free.

“Cate’s look really came together with the immaculate and stunning hairdressing by Kay Georgiou. We took our inspiration from period photos of Grace Kelly who, of course, always seemed effortlessly elegant and beautiful, and we made our aim to channel that kind of look and feeling.” Carol’s coral-red lips, says Ross, were painted with Chanel’s Rouge Allure Lipsticks in Coromandel and Incandescente (used on the middle of the lower lip), while her nails, throughout the film, sport the Lilis shade of Chanel Le Vernis.

And Blanchett’s verdict on her make-up also referred back to Chanel. She said: “I had to pluck my eyebrows nearly every day to achieve that very stern look. I just hated it. I much prefer a natural approach to beauty. You know, Coco Chanel always said to take one thing off before you leave the house, and I think that also applies to makeup.”

Carol is in cinemas from November 27Carol 4

Carol 1

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Carol 3

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A Valentine to Funny Face

Funny_Face_-_red_dress,_Louvre_(colour)The generally (s’) wonderful 1957 musical Funny Face is doing the rounds of cinemas this week, to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Decent pictures of the many glorious Givenchy outfits are difficult to source on the internet (the still taken during the fashion sequence, above, is an exception) – but there are some delightful shots of the delectable Audrey Hepburn in costume, both on-set and off-duty, and in publicity pictures. Here’s a selection, kicking off with a beautiful portrait of her in the raincoat she wears for the jubilant Bonjour Paris number.Funny_Face_-_Audrey_Hepburn_b&_w_in_raincoat

And, sans raincoat, here’s the rest of her boulevardier ensemble – turtle neck, cigarette pants and loafers – worn as she philosophises in Montmartre .. Funny_Face_-_Audrey_in_beatnik_outfit_off_dutyDuring the “ugly duckling” part of the film, Hepburn’s character, Jo, was dowdily dressed and bemused by the ridiculous poses and heavy make-up of the models who invaded her bookshop for a shoot. Between takes, however, Audrey Hepburn was quite comfortable in the company of top model Dovima.Funny_Face_-_onset_photo_with_Vogue_modelThis monochrome evening dress is only glimpsed momentarily in the film (as are many of the evening gowns). It’s very reminiscent of the one worn by Hepburn in her second Cinderella-style film, Sabrina.Funny_Face_-_b&w_dress_in_colourAnd, to end with, here’s Audrey Hepburn’s beguilingly vulnerable version of the Gershwin love song How Long Has This Been Going On? Happy Valentine’s Day – here’s to feeling in a lovely state…

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Well Hello, Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse - JS black dressI went to see the 1958 movie Bonjour Tristesse in a sparkling new print yesterday and was struck by how stylish it is – in so many more ways than I remembered from seeing it on TV in my teens. Style-wise back then, I couldn’t see past the sublime pixie crop sported by the gamine Jean Seberg – and all I could recall of the film in general was that I didn’t like it much, apart from the theme song (scroll down to hear Juliette Greco singing it in the opening scenes) which has always haunted me. This time, however, I was wowed right from the get-go – by the colourful Saul Bass-designed titles (and Georges Auric music) which announced the film’s style credentials: “accessories by Hermes”. A good sign, surely?

Well, yes. I can’t find the costume designer listed on the Internet Movie Database – and I blinked and missed the credit during the titles (too dazzled by the Bonjour Tristesse - Seberg & Kerr on arrivalHermes mention, perhaps) but I believe it was Givenchy – which just adds to the appeal. Certainly, the first dress we see Seberg wearing – in the black & white sequences that represent the present-day and book-end the main drama – is reminiscent of the “Sabrina” dress that Givenchy designed for Audrey Hepburn to wear in the movie of that name … Bonjour Tristesse certainly required a chic, grown-up wardrobe for its other female star, Deborah Kerr, since she plays a Parisian fashion designer whose creations are worn by both her and the other characters throughout the movie.

I wonder now whether I ever watched beyond the first twenty minutes of the film when I first saw it. They are full of irritating dialogue, and focus on Cecile (Seberg), her unfulfilling social life and her nauseatingly sophisticated relationship with her playboy father (David Niven). I can’t think of many other films Bonjour Tristesse - Seberg & Kerr in casinowhere the look – of the costumes, the stars’ make-up and hair (Deborah Kerr looks particularly striking with soft make-up and flame red hair pinned up in an elegant chignon), their tanned bods and the locations (French Riviera) – has seduced me enough to continue watching something that was otherwise boring or annoying me. But I’m glad I did – for not only was there more style inspiration to soak up as the film unfolded, but I was drawn into the story in a way which I wasn’t when I first saw it. (Oh, and there was a wonderful opportunity to see Martita Hunt, AKA the definitive Miss Havisham, looking glamorous in the casino scene.)

It’s not a great film but it’s worth seeing; a movie based on a French literary classic – which the French should have made themselves. It seems all wrong as a Hollywood film – but it looks a million dollars ..

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Style-o-Meter: July 10, 2013

SO HOT … 

AUDREY HEPBURN ON THE BIG SCREEN Roman Holiday - AH

Let’s face it, any opportunity to see the world’s favourite style icon on the big screen is worth grabbing but when it’s a new print of the gloriously romantic and utterly beguiling Roman Holiday – the 1953 film which launched Hepburn’s career – then we’re talking compulsory viewing. Even though she wears pretty much one outfit throughout the entire film…

The gorgeous gamine won an Oscar and charmed the world playing a naive young princess who goes AWOL while on a state visit to the Eternal City. Little does she realise that the streetsmart knight (the delectable Gregory Peck) who comes to her rescue when she gets in bother is in fact an American newspaperman chasing a scoop.

* Roman Holiday is back in UK cinemas from July 19.

TOM FORD PRIVATE BLEND ATELIER d’ORIENT COLLECTION

It’s a Ford fragrance fiesta this week as four beautiful and very distinctive new fragrances are launched by the elegant Mr Tom. His  latest mini collection of perfumes takes inspiration from the Orient. He says: “It is an olfactory exploration of Asia’s fusion of cultures and influences that is extremely beautiful, quite unexpected, and a reinvention of the region’s most precious ingredients. Atelier d’Orient is an artisanal collection that captures subtle qualities of Asia—its elegant discretion, refined mastery of details and classical eroticism.” My personal favourite of the new quartet is Plum Japonais, a luscious, dark, warm and sensual fragrance with a hint of a masculine streak.

CLINIQUE DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT MOISTURIZING LOTION+

Is this the most famous yellow bottle in the world? Possibly. It’s probably the most ubiquitous since: one is sold somewhere in the world every 4.87 seconds, so chances are most dressing Clinique DDMLtables have at some point been graced by it. Now, 45 years after it was first launched as part of Clinique‘s iconic 3-Step skincare programme, Dramatically Different has had a sort of facelift.  It’s been reformulated to reflect 21st Century skin concerns and tackle the effects on the skin of our modern-day lifestyle, and to utilise 21st Century skincare technology. Six years in development, it launches this week – at the old price point, starting at £17.

SO NOT … 

SPECIAL K

Thanks to a corner shop which had an apparently inexhaustible supply of original Special K, I have joined the anti-K party a bit late. However,  having now sampled the new-look, new-texture, new-taste version of the cereal which has been a staple of my diet for the last three (weight-watching) years, I am ready to sign petitions, burn my bra, do whatever it takes to have the original reinstated. C’mon Mr Kellogg, this will not stand!

UNSECURED CLEAVAGE

This week’s heatwave has triggered an outbreak of crimes against style on our streets – from the inappropriate use of shorts (by women for whom maxi dresses should be mandatory) to the exposure of white tummies that give off a glare that could be hazardous to drivers. One of the worst affronts could be tackled, however, by clothes manufacturers: surely those high street purveyors of strapless or halter neck sundresses could do us all a favour and build in support for wobbly bosoms? My nine-year-old twin sons need counselling after being exposed to some of the sights they’ve encountered in the last week ..

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Style on Film: How To Steal a Million

This is the look everyone remembers from the 1966 romantic caper movie How To Steal a Million, in which the irresistible Audrey Hepburn played Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of a master art forger. Set in Paris, the film features glorious locations – the Bonnets’ fabulous mansion, the Louvre, the Ritz – and, of course, some fab fashions from who else but Hepburn’s favourite couturier, Hubert de Givenchy. For the opening scene, he kitted his muse out in a kooky helmet hat, with matching sunglasses – very much a la Paco Rabanne. Here’s our first glimpse of Nicole:

When she arrives at her (presumably right bank) home, we get this glimpse of the rear view of her natty cream and white ensemble..

Later that night, Nicole is disturbed from her bedtime reading (a book about Alfred Hitchcock!) and discovers that a rather attractive Englishman (Peter O’Toole) is trying to pinch her pere’s Van Gogh. And when I say her pere’s Van Gogh, I mean the one he painted; not “Van Gogh’s Van Gogh”… After shooting him, tending to his injury and driving him back to the Ritz (well, he is, as Nicole points out a particularly “chic burglar”, she arranges to meet him the next day. For her secret rendez-vous at the Ritz to seal the deal, Nicole goes semi-undercover in an unforgettable black lace ensemble – which is very, very now.

Even the eye make-up glimpsible under that mask looks very 2011 – Chanel’s Illusion d’Ombre in Epatant would achieve a similar effect as Nicole’s eyes in that last picture. Here’s a better look at that exquisite lace mask.

For their next meeting – to case the joint for their heist (they are going to steal back Monsieur Bonnet’s Cellini statue from the Louvre) – Nicole dresses very conservatively. This is colour-blocking, 1966-style.

And here’s an off-duty shot of the stars which shows off one of the many pairs of patterned tights sported by Nicole in the film.

Hepburn’s reputation as the epitome of chic is affectionately sent up in the movie. When Nicole puts on her char woman disguise, her suave accomplice quips: ” Well for one thing, it gives Givenchy a night off!”  Setting off for the heist, she dresses in sophisticated beige …

Style-wise, How To Steal a Million is a bit of a mixed bag – one of Nicole’s outfits (a canary yellow suit, plus white tights) looks like it was inspired by Tweety Pie, and she spends quite a bit of time in a boring cotton nightie, but the opening scene outfit and, especially, the black lace ensemble are worth tuning in for. And this make-up is very inspirational for the party season.

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Style on Film: Sabrina

This stunning yet simple black cocktail dress which Audrey Hepburn wore in the 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina is – believe it or not – one of the most controversial frocks in cinema history. It helped to make Sabrina one of the most stylish films of the 1950s – and to establish its young star’s famous chic gamine look. It also marked her first collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier, with whom her style would be inextricably linked for the rest of her life. Being a Cinderella-style love story, Sabrina opens with its heroine dressed in rather dowdier attire, however …

Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe in Sabrina was originally to be designed by Paramount Studios’ costume supremo, Edith Head. In the film, Sabrina, the chauffeur’s lovesick daughter, goes to Paris as an awkward adolescent and returns transformed into an elegant young lady. Edith Head was put out to learn that, after their first meeting, Audrey had asked director Billy Wilder if she could wear “a real Paris dress” in the film. Mrs Wilder suggested Audrey go to Balenciaga but when the young star turned up, the couturier was too busy see her and sent her to his young friend, Hubert de Givenchy.

Givenchy later recalled: “When the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T-shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read ‘Venezia’. I told her: ‘Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers. I am in the middle of a collection – I can’t make you clothes.’  Audrey asked to see the collection – and ended up choosing all of Sabrina’s post-Paris capsule wardrobe from it, starting with the super-elegant ensemble with which she wows her childhood crush when she arrives back on Long Island from France.


For Sabrina’s first-ever date with David Larabee (the dashing William Holden), the playboy with whom she has been besotted all her life, Audrey (for it really was her choice) selected from Givenchy an exquisite strapless evening gown with a boned bodice and flowing, full, ankle-length skirt. She asked the designer to alter it to that it would hide the hollows behind her collarbone. He later said: “What I invented for her eventually became a style so popular that I named it ‘decollete Sabrina’.”

Needless to say, Sabrina is the belle of the ball in her black and white Paris dress. It certainly opens the otherwise-engaged David’s eyes, prompting him to say: “Oh Sabrina, if I’d only known…”. But the “if I’d only known” dress isn’t my favourite from the film; I love the cocktail dress and cute catwoman-like hat that our fickle heroine wears when she’s being romanced by David’s brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart). What made this cocktail dress so controversial? Well, here’s a clue:

You would assume that this sketch, by Edith Head, is evidence that she designed the dress which sums up Sabrina’s seductive blend of playfulness and elegance. But that isn’t actually the case – though Head herself allowed the misconception to go uncorrected for the rest of her life. The truth – as explained in Jay Jorgensen’s superb book, Edith Head – The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer (Running Press) – is that Head’s department was supposed to make this dress, with its distinctive bows on the shoulder and boat neck, from a sketch by Givenchy. Jorgensen explains: “Confusion about the designs in the film began as sketches were done in the wardrobe department to execute all the clothing needed. Edith began sending the sketches out to publicize the film, leading to the assumption that all the clothes were her designs.” Here’s Sabrina wearing it on her pre-theatre dinner date at The Colony with Linus.

The boat neck of what became known as “The Sabrina Dress” – the design of which was translated into a best-selling dressmaking pattern when the film was released – became a hallmark of the Hepburn look. As did the black legging-like trousers and pumps which she wore, along with a slash-necked top, for a casual visit to Linus’s office.

It’s only when Sabrina removes her coat – a collarless number which anticipates the Givenchy coats she sports in their classic 1960s collaboration Charade – and turns around that we see the sly sexiness of the ensemble:

There aren’t that many different outfits in Sabrina – just enough to immediately establish it as a must-see for style lovers. Which must help explain why Edith Head presumably kept quiet about the extent of Givenchy’s involvement in the film and the fact that, with Audrey, he created Sabrina’s Parisian-inspired look, the look that dominates the movie. Not only did Givenchy’s name appear nowhere in the credits, but Head accepted an Oscar for Sabrina and didn’t even acknowledge the French designer’s contribution to the film.

According to Jorgensen’s book, Head even had the gall to parade the original dress down the runaways of her fashion shows. It was only after Head’s 1980 death, that Givenchy, a true gentleman, finally confirmed that the dress had been his design but had been made under Head’s supervision at Paramount…

 

 

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Style on Film: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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.

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