sexta-feira, 15 de novembro de 2013


Audrey Hepburn



Scene: The chandeliered salon of the fictitious Parisian couturier Paul Duval, in the 1957 fashion-world musical Funny Face. “My friends,” Duval announces. “You saw enter here a waif, a gamine, a lowly caterpillar. We open the cocoon but it is not a butterfly that emerges. . . . It is a bird of paradise. Lights! Curtain!”[1] With this grand introduction, the incomparably lovely Audrey Hepburn steps out as a fashion plate nonpareil—both on-screen, as a bookworm turned model, and in life, where the role secured her starry position in the movieland firmament. From Funny Face on, Hepburn insisted that the (very real) Parisian couturier Hubert de Givenchy design all her film costumes. “His are the only clothes in which I am myself,”[2] she told reporters in 1956.

Discovered by the French novelist Colette in 1951, the coltish twenty-two-year-old was immediately cast as Broadway’s Gigi, the first of her many Cinderella stories. Next, she lit up the Eternal City as a gleeful princess on the lam in Roman Holiday, and charmed hearts as a gangly chaffeur’s daughter in Sabrina. “An enchanting mixture of grace and gawkiness,” one reviewer wrote of Hepburn. “Amid the rhinestone glare of the current glamour crop, she shines with the authenticity of a diamond.”
With her bat-wing brows, luminous doe eyes, and disarmingly broad grin, she was the effervescent girl everyone fell for. Her riches-to-rags-to-riches life story was itself the stuff of a movie script: Although her mother was a baroness, Audrey had suffered from malnutrition as a ballet student in Nazi-occupied Holland, where she danced to earn money for the resistance until she grew too weak to continue. Due in part to these privations—which diminished her muscle tone—she was forced to abandon her dream of becoming a ballerina. Though crushed, she turned to acting, and discovered what was fated to be her true métier. “It is always a dramatic moment when the Phoenix rises anew from its ashes,” the photographer Cecil Beaton wrote in Vogue of the ingenue in 1954. “For if ‘queens have died young and fair,’ they are also reborn, appearing in new guises which often create their own terms of appreciation.”[4]
As Hollywood crowned its newest royal, Hepburn began another career—that of trendsetter. Her chic cap of dark hair—and bangs of “wispy monkey-fur fringe”[5] (so described by Beaton)—inspired women everywhere to line up for a pixie cut. “Gazelles have elegance—and Audrey Hepburn, magnificently,”[6] Diana Vreeland of Vogue declared. Fans eagerly looked to Hepburn’s latest films for inspiration, and thumbed magazines for glimpses of her clothes. “She not only had the looks, she had an eye for design that was one of the reasons she had achieved that position,”[7] the film director Stanley Donen said of his three-time star, in a loving tribute published in Vogue in 1993.
Givenchy’s soigné wardrobe for Sabrina—a trim suit, embroidered evening gown, and ribbon-tied cocktail frock—launched the Sabrina bateau neckline and later, the Sabrina heel. (Hepburn herself preferred Ferragamo ballet flats.) Givenchy had found his lifelong muse—and Hepburn, her Pygmalion. “He is far more than couturier, he is a creator of personality,”[8] she once said. He in turn called her his “ideal woman.”[9] In Givenchy’s modern, feminine silhouettes, and in contrast to the prevailing bombshell ideal, the boyishly slender Hepburn (whose waist measured a shocking 20 inches) became the standard-bearer of the new chic.
Their uniquely symbiotic relationship brought glory to Givenchy’s door, and propelled Hepburn beyond style icon and into goddess territory. Decades later, legions continue to emulate her, and she is still cited frequently—frankly, to the point of cliché—in the fashion press; the name Audrey has become shorthand for a rakishly slim, clean-lined elegance.
From black cigarette pants worn with schoolboy pullovers to headscarves worn with oversize sunglasses, the fads she sparked are too many to enumerate. But perhaps the most famous example of the Audrey Hepburn look is the narrow black satin Givenchy column worn by Holly Golightly, her character in the 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the opening scene, Holly stands outside the Fifth Avenue jeweler’s at daybreak, peering through the window at the glittering baubles within. Oversize tortoiseshell sunglasses, black opera gloves, a sparkly tiara atop her chignon, and a mile-long cigarette holder complete an ensemble that has become an enduring template for sophistication—endlessly imitated by little girls playing dress-up and grown women pulling out all the stops for their life’s moments of highest glamour.


  1. 1929
Audrey Kathleen Ruston born in Brussels. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra Ruston, is a Dutch baroness who had aspired to become an opera singer. Her father is Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, a handsome Bohemia-born English banker with “dark eyes like velvet,”[10] as Ella later describes him. It is the second marriage for both; Ella has two sons, Alexander and Ian, by her first husband. Joseph later legally combines his maternal and paternal surnames, becoming Hepburn-Ruston.
  1. 1934
At five, sent to boarding school in England. Takes up ballet.
  1. 1935
Her father walks out on the family. (Her parents later divorce.)
England and France declare war on Germany. Fearing for her daughter’s safety, the baroness brings Audrey home.
Germany invades Holland. Audrey’s name is temporarily changed to the more Dutch-sounding Edda. Ian is taken to a Nazi labor camp, and an uncle and cousin are executed for their pro-resistance activities. At one point, the Nazis round up local women to cook for them, but Audrey escapes.
Takes ballet lessons at the Arnhem Conservatory, and dances to earn money for the underground. Her goal of becoming a prima ballerina keeps her going, though food is scarce and, at one point, she becomes too weak to dance. During the country’s dismal Hunger Winter, citizens scavenge for food. (She nibbles on tulip bulbs.)
Liberation falls on May 4, Audrey’s sixteenth birthday. A Dutch soldier gives her chocolate bars, her favorite food; she wolfs them down and becomes violently ill. The baroness soon moves her daughter to Amsterdam, where Audrey studies ballet for three years at the Balletstudio 45.
Receives a scholarship to study in London with Marie Rambert, the renowned teacher of Nijinsky. To support her studies, takes modeling jobs, and makes her screen debut as a KLM stewardess in the documentary Dutch in Seven Lessons. Eventually, Rambert advises her pupil that she has no future as a prima ballerina, in part due to the malnutrition she suffered, which affected muscle development. (At five foot seven, her height is also against her.) That winter, she is cast in Jerome Robbins’s cabaret High Button Shoes. Fellow dancer Nickolas Dana later recalls Audrey’s ability to take “one skirt, one blouse, one pair of shoes, and a beret” and craft new ensembles. “What she did with them week by week you wouldn’t believe. . . . She had the gift, the flair of how to dress.”[11]
Performs in Sauce Tartare, “London’s Gayest Musical,” according to the playbill. The revue proves so popular, Hepburn is given a featured role in Sauce Piquante the following year. Begins taking elocution lessons, which will later account for her distinctively melodic speaking voice.
Cast in the English films One Wild Oat, Young Wives’ Tale, Laughter in Paradise, The Lavender Hill Mob, and The Secret People. While filming the musical comedy Monte Carlo Baby, is discovered by the French novelist Colette, who insists she be cast in the stage adaptation of her novel Gigi. “The moment I saw her I could not take my eyes away. There, I said to myself, is Gigi!”[12] Colette later writes. Audrey demurs, saying, “I’m sorry, Madame, but it is impossible. I wouldn’t be able to, because I can’t act.”[13] October: Upon arriving in New York, is greeted by a photographer seeking new faces. “The first thing I saw when I came to America was the Statue of Liberty. The second—Richard Avedon,” Hepburn later recalls. He whisks her to his studio to take her portrait, the first of many to come. Makes her Broadway debut to glowing reviews. “New Star in Firmament,”[14] The New York Times declares. November: For Vogue, Irving Penn shoots a close-up of the actress, wearing a beatnikish, black crewneck sweater, chin in hand.
March: Models Adrian’s floral Bianchini silk-taffeta ball gown in Vogue. Becomes engaged to British industrialist James Hanson. Commissions a simple cream satin bridal gown, adorned only by a bow at the waist, from Rome’s Fontana sisters. The wedding is later called off, and Hepburn asks the sisters to give the gown to “the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find.”[15] One lucky girl wears it to marry her farmer groom. (In 2009, the dress is auctioned for $22,000.)
August: William Wyler’s comedy-romance Roman Holiday opens at Radio City Music Hall. Hepburn’s portrayal of a princess on the lam charms audiences and critics, and a star is born. She will scoop up Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA awards for this and many more films to come. Paramount’s legendary costume designer Edith Head also takes an Oscar for the street-chic ensembles and royal gowns worn by Hepburn’s Princess Anne.
February: Her hair dyed blonde, plays the title role in Ondine, Alfred Lunt’s Broadway hit about a medieval water nymph and her knight. Though her costume consists only of a fishnet bodysuit with strategically placed seaweed, Hepburn’s aura of naïveté dispels any impression of lewdness. She later receives a Tony. Vogue features “America’s Newest Darling,” describing Hepburn as “hot-eyed.”[16] April: Vogue illustrator René Bouché sketches her portrait. September: Wearing a crown of flowers and a tea-length organdy dress by Balmain, marries her Ondine costar Mel Ferrer in Switzerland. Vogue later runs a photo of the newlyweds, with a profile by Cecil Beaton. October: She stars in Billy Wilder’s romantic comedy Sabrina. For her Long Island–to–Paris transformation, suggests designs by an authentic French couturier. Pays a visit to new talent Hubert de Givenchy; his three looks make the film, and the designer discovers his muse. When Head wins the costume Oscar, Hepburn calls Givenchy to apologize.
Receives the Golden Globe’s Henrietta Award for World Film Favorite: Female.
Stars with Ferrer in the film adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, directed by King Vidor. Irving Penn photographs a portrait of the actress, smiling in profile, for Vogue.
Givenchy introduces a feminine fragrance, L’Interdit (“The Forbidden”), dedicated to Hepburn. It is the first celebrity fragrance; she appears in advertisements. February: She stars in Funny Face, a musical comedy about a bookish beatnik turned Paris high-fashion model. (Dovima and Suzy Parker make cameos.) Richard Avedon styles Stanley Donen’s Technicolor gem, filmed in and around the City of Light. Hepburn puts on her dancing shoes to waltz with Fred Astaire, whom she had requested to play her love interest, a fashion photographer based on Avedon. Head and Givenchy are later nominated for a costume Oscar. June: Dressed in Givenchy, plays an infatuated eighteen-year-old in Love in the Afternoon.
March: Plays Rima the Bird Girl in Green Mansions, a romance set in the Amazon. Ferrer directs. April: Vogue runs a portrait of her as Rima, holding a baby fawn (after shooting the film, Hepburn adopts the animal, naming it Pippin, or Ip, for short.) July: Wearing a white habit, Audrey wins accolades for her moving portrayal of the conflicted Sister Luke in The Nun’s Story.
Gets her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. January: After several miscarriages, gives birth to a son, Sean Ferrer. April: Portrays a Kiowa Native American in the John Huston western The Unforgiven.
October: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the movie that launches a million LBDs, premieres at Radio City. Truman Capote’s novella about a backwoods wild child turned city stunner on the make is brought to life by Blake Edwards’s stylish direction, which makes stars out of both Givenchy’s chic costumes and the Tiffany’s store on Fifth Avenue. In a publicity still for the movie, Hepburn becomes one of two women ever to wear Tiffany’s famed 128-karat canary diamond, the centerpiece in the lavish pearl bib she dons. December: Plays a headmistress accused of lesbianism in the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s controversial play The Children’s Hour.
January: Vogue’s Cecil Beaton writes about her style. “What goes into the Audrey Hepburn mystique?” he asks. “When the star dust settles around her, it becomes clear to the nakedest eye that she is deeply, intelligently knowledgeable about her looks.”[17] Hepburn is snapped on location for Paris When it Sizzles wearing a head scarf, oversize sunglasses, and a mink pullover, Yorkie at her side. April: Models spring fashions by Givenchy in Vogue. December: Stars in Donen’s taut thriller Charade. Givenchy signatures—pillbox hats, roomy coats, head scarves—create wealthy-widow chic. In Vogue, she models Cecil Beaton’s extravagant costumes from the original Broadway musical version of My Fair Lady.
April: Plays a secretary in the romantic comedy Paris When It Sizzles, in which Givenchy’s costumes are red-hot. June: Models a pink turban and a white linen tunic from Givenchy’s Jaipur collection in Vogue. August: Beaton’s photographic essay “Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy Hats: My Fair Lady to the Life” runs in Vogue. November: Penn photographs her in Givenchy’s towering pillbox for Vogue’s cover. Inside, writer Cleveland Amory explores “The Phenomenon of My Fair Lady,” and Beaton captures her dressed as Eliza Doolittle. December: Visiting the set of the film, Givenchy takes one look at Beaton’s lavish wardrobe—some of it scoured from secondhand shops, or borrowed from museums—and jokes, “Quel travail! It’s like half a dozen collections!”[18] Beaton later wins the costume Oscar.
Moves to an 18th-century, peach-colored villa in Tolochenaz, near Lausanne, Switzerland. Names her new home La Paisible (the Peaceful Place). “I always dreamt of the day I would have enough closets—big ones,” the clotheshorse admits to The New York Times. “Some people dream of having a big swimming pool—with me, it’s closets.”[19] Hers is filled with cashmere sweaters, pants from Jax, polo shirts, reversible coats, and a smattering of Italian labels. Givenchy, Hepburn notes, is making her a new raincoat with her favorite old mink lining. “It sounds terribly snobby but fur is much warmer when it is against you,”[20] she notes.
January: Models raincoats and Mod prêt-à-porter for Vogue. April: Vogue goes behind the scenes of Wyler’s zany art-heist comedy How to Steal a Million. The studio gives Givenchy $30,000 to play with; he creates a haute-Mod look. October: For Vogue, William Klein shoots Hepburn in a sleeveless white silk-gabardine Empire dress and a one-shouldered lamé sheath, both by Givenchy; her stylized coifs are by Alexandre of Paris.
April: Travels love’s twisting highway in Two for the Road. Although she has, up until now, insisted on being costumed in haute couture, her wardrobe includes ready-to-wear from Mary Quant and Paco Rabanne. October: Plays a blind woman in the thriller Wait Until Dark. After filming, decides to put her career on hold to focus on marriage and family. However, before the film’s release, she and Ferrer separate.
November: Her divorce from Ferrer finalized. Two months later, she marries Italian psychiatrist Andrea Mario Dotti, nine years her junior. The bride wears a pink wool minidress and matching kerchief by Givenchy. The couple will split their time between Switzerland and Rome, where Hepburn becomes a client and friend of the city’s new star couturier, Valentino Garavani.
Hepburn and Dotti featured in Vogue’s March People Are Talking About story “Audrey and Andrea.” The pair are photographed walking in the woods near their home.
Another son, Luca Dotti, born.
April: Vogue visits “Audrey Hepburn Dotti and Her Family.” She is captured in her garden, pushing baby Luca in a black pram.
Plays a mature Maid Marian in the Sherwood Forest redux Robin and Marian. At the New York premiere, fans welcome back their favorite star, chanting, “We love you, Audrey.”[21]
Plays a hunted heiress in the film adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s novel Bloodline, with costumes by Enrico Sabbatini.
Meets Dutch actor Robert Wolders, who becomes her companion.
Divorce of Dotti and Hepburn finalized. She plays an unfaithful wife in Peter Bogdanovich’s madcap caper They All Laughed.
Hepburn and family accompany Givenchy to his 30-year celebration in Tokyo. On this first visit to Japan, she receives an overwhelming welcome from fans.
Receives the Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for contributions to the arts in France and the world. February: Plays a baroness in the made-for-TV thriller Love Among Thieves. March: Vogue takes a “Look Back with Glamour,” featuring young designers who draw inspiration from the fifties style of Hepburn and Grace Kelly. May: She pens the foreword to The Fifties in Vogue, as seen in the British, French, and American versions of the magazine. “The fifties had a special feeling of warmth,” Hepburn writes of the post-war era. “Once again one was allowed to be optimistic about the future—the world was functioning again. Above all there was a wonderful quality of hope, born from relief and gratitude for those greatest of all luxuries—freedom and peace.” In the book, Cecil Beaton is quoted as describing the actress in 1954: “Nobody ever looked like her before World War II . . . now thousands of imitations have appeared.”[22]
Receives the Danny Kaye International Children’s Award, presented by the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. Wearing a dramatic black satin coat by Isaac Mizrahi, poses for Revlon’s “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” campaign. Kevyn Aucoin does her makeup; the actress soon begins booking him for personal appearances. March: Appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. For the remainder of her life, becomes a passionate advocate for child welfare, traveling throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Receives the first-ever International Humanitarian Award from the Institute for Human Understanding. January: Wearing feathered red satin Givenchy, pays tribute to friend Richard Avedon, who is honored for fashion and documentary photography at the CFDA awards dinner. December: Plays an angel named Hap in the Steven Spielberg romantic drama Always.
A tulip is named after her in Holland. UNICEF pays tribute to one of its most fervent ambassadors at its annual ball, honoring Hepburn with its Children’s Champion Award. She receives the Golden Globe’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement. Named one of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. Pens an essay on the effective uses of costume in her movies in the picture-packed tome Fashion in Film.
Receives a Bambi Award. January: The New York Times street-fashion photographer Bill Cunningham snaps Breakfast at Tiffany’s–esque wide-brimmed felt hats. March: The New York Times fashion writer Carrie Donovan notes the trend for loose men’s shirting, à la Hepburn. April: The Film Society of Lincoln Center pays tribute to the actress, who accepts her honor in an exquisite Givenchy evening gown with matching brocade jacket. She receives a standing ovation.
Presents Ralph Lauren, one of her favorite designers, with the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, while she receives the CFDA’s Lifetime of Style Award. Honored with a BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award. Visits Somalia to draw attention to the plight of starving children in the war-torn country. November: Undergoes exploratory surgery. Diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. December: Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with UNICEF.
January: Dies from colon cancer at her beloved La Paisible. February: Posthumously wins a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for the audio book Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales. March: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors both Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. April: Stanley Donen, who directed Hepburn in Funny Face, Charade, and Two for the Road, pens a loving tribute for Vogue. September: Receives an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement.
The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund (AHCF), a nonprofit dedicated to helping children in need, established by sons Luca Dotti and Sean Ferrer, and their mother’s companion Robert Wolders.
On the eve of his retirement, Givenchy talks to Vanity Fair about the remake of the film that helped put him on the map, Sabrina.
Vogue beauty editor Amy Astley pinpoints the trend for “skunk stripes,”[23] the blonde-streaked hairstyle associated with actresses Anne Bancroft and Audrey Hepburn. Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss all sport “Winning Streaks” in the magazine.
April: Hepburn’s signature style sees another revival, with Marc Jacobs’s ballerina flats, Michael Kors’s slim-cut cigarette pants, Ralph Lauren’s pastel sweaters, and Bergdorf Goodman’s Audrey-themed windows filled with LBDs. Givenchy pens the foreword to Audrey Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh. May: The house of Ferragamo reissues a shoe made for Hepburn in 1957. December: The Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and the Powerhouse Museum mount “Audrey Hepburn: A Woman, the Style.”
A modernized version of the Givenchy fragrance L’Interdit released.
The U.S. Postal Service issues the Audrey Hepburn stamp. April: Items from the actress’s estate are sold at auction with proceeds going to the AHCF and UNICEF. Among the fashion finery on the block is the hand-embroidered Givenchy dress from Sabrina. “Her image is simple, chic but not chichi,” Hubert de Givenchy is quoted as saying. “At a time when fashion is in a state of confusion, that image is still modern.”[24] October: Sean Ferrer pens a moving memoir, Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers.
October: Gap uses Hepburn’s Funny Face beatnik café dance scene to promote its skinny black jeans. The actress’s black-clad figure is digitally cloned and set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” J.Crew also gets in on the Audrey action, launching its Little Black Dress Shop in stores. December: At auction, the house of Givenchy buys back the iconic LBD worn by Hepburn in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s for a whopping $811,800.
As part of its Les Mythiques series, the house of Givenchy reissues L’Interdit in its original formulation.
A collection of Hepburn’s fashion and film effects goes on tour, to be later auctioned. The black chantilly lace ensemble worn in How to Steal a Million fetches close to $98,000; the house of Givenchy is the winning bidder. A portion of proceeds benefits the AHCF/UNICEF joint venture All Children in School.
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