It seems almost impossible nowadays to walk into a poster shop or a teenage girl’s bedroom without seeing the iconic picture of Holly Golightly at Tiffany’s with her black gloves and tiara. Tiffany’s aside, the actress behind the Raybans has proved herself to be a style icon on and off the screen.
Audrey Hepburn was born May 4th, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She moved to England at the age six to attend boarding school, and later moved to the Netherlands to study at Arnhem Conservatory. Growing up, Audrey was very passionate about ballet.
In 1940, Audrey was still living in the Netherlands when the Nazis invaded. As the living conditions became harder, she became malnourished and suffered from depression.
After surviving the war, Audrey went on to pursue a career in dance. She moved to London in 1948 where she studied ballet and worked as a model. She slowly made the segue into acting with bit parts in films like One Wild Oat and Laughter in Paradise. It was her eighth movie, a starring role in 1953’s Roman Holiday that earned Audrey a name in Hollywood – and an Academy Award.
Audrey’s second major film, Sabrina, called for a stylish Parisian wardrobe. Legendary designer Hubert de Givenchy agreed to costume the movie, under the impression that he would be designing for Katharine Hepburn. He had never heard of Audrey, but agreed to let her wear his designs after meeting her.
Audrey personally handpicked her clothes for Sabrina from Givenchy’s collections. They would later go on to collaborate on the wardrobe for many of Audrey’s major movies, including the editorial gowns in Funny Face, the pastel colored ensembles from Charade, and, of course, the iconic black dress from the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Audrey maintained a reputation of being one of Hollywood’s most elegant and graceful celebrities. Unlike other notorious actresses from the golden age, she was never involved in any sort of scandal.
While she married twice, each relationship outlasted those of a typical celebrity – she was first married to Broadway co-star Mel Ferrer from 1954 to 1968, and then to psychiatrist Andrea Dotti from 1969 to 1982.
In the late 80’s, Audrey retired from the cinema to work for UNICEF. With memories of her own malnourishment in mind, she travelled the world to help suffering children. Later, the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund would be created in her memory.
Audrey Hepburn passed away on January 20, 1993 after a struggle with colon cancer. She has since been immortalized, not only through the Children’s Fund but from the Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie posters that are omnipresent forty seven years later.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.