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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Audrey Hepburn: Style Icon

7 September 2017
To celebrate her status as a style icon, Ria Newman takes a look back at Hepburn's most memorable moments in fashion…

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s star would have turned 88 this year, but her timeless looks have proven to be eternal. Serving as a muse to French designer Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey Hepburn became internationally recognised as a style icon in the 50’s, famed for both her casual-chic daywear and her standout haute couture at events. She has even been credited as a major selling point for Burberry’s eponymous trench coat, which saw sales go through the roof after she wore it in Tiffany’s. The contrast between Hepburn’s more androgynous style and her fellow actresses’ femme fatale looks was always stark, with the former’s style an easier look for young women to emulate. Indeed, in 1954 fashion photographer Cecil Beaton wrote she was “the public embodiment of our new feminine ideal” in Vogue, citing the “thousands of imitations” as proof of her appeal. To celebrate her status as a style icon, we take a look back at her most memorable moments in fashion…


The Little Black Dress

The finest of Little Black Dresses (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Undoubtedly her most recognised and iconic look is the Givenchy little black dress she wore in her most successful film, 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Worn in the opening scene of the film, the dress went on to become a star in its own right, and is regularly referred to as one of the most iconic items of clothing from the twentieth century. To complete the look, the dress was paired with a heavy necklace made by Roger Scemama – a designer of jewellery for Givenchy at the time.  


Turtle and trousers

Another flattering look (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Her androgynous turtle neck, trousers and flat shoes ensemble wasn’t solely for her day-to-day life; the actress brought the look into films like Funny Face. The simple outfit showed off Hepburn’s thin silhouette and the dark, minimalist colour scheme made even this fuss-free look chic and sophisticated. Better still, it was easy for moviegoers and fans to recreate at home in the post-war world where the glitz and glamour of other starlets was unrealistic.


Bridal gowns

First Wedding Dress

Hepburn in Balmain, 1954 (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

The dress Hepburn wore to marry fellow actor Mel Ferrer in 1954 was nearly as talked about as the marriage itself. The statement dress was created by Pierre Balmain (the very same fashion house that now frequents the Kardashians’ Instagram accounts) and featured a high neck, flared skirt, ballgown sleeves and a satin sash. To make it even more memorable, Hepburn paired it with elbow-length gloves and a flower crown.

In Givenchy, 1969 (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Reflecting both the transition into the 70’s, as well as Hepburn’s simple-but-playful style was the pale pink gown she wore for her second marriage to Andrea Dotti in 1969. The decidedly unconventional mini-dress dress featured long sleeves and a funnel neck, making it her first bridal gowns polar-opposite. The dress, alongside matching hood, was designed for her by “best friend” Hubert de Givenchy.


The 26th Academy Awards

Hepburn at the 26th Academy Awards, in Givenchy (Photo courtesy of Flikr)

Designed by – you guessed it – Hubert de Givenchy, the white floral dress Hepburn wore to the 1954 Academy Awards was, and remains, incredibly popular. Featuring the classic-Hepburn high neck, the feminine gown was belted at the waist, showing off her incredibly slim figure and creating a stunning silhouette. This was notably the first time audiences saw Hepburn in one of the designers creations, before decades of friendship that saw her regularly adorn his pieces. More recently, Time Magazine voted it the greatest Oscar’s dress of all time.


Pink in Rome

Hepburn in Pink

Hepburn in pink Givenchy cocktail dress, 1955 (Image courtesy of Norman Parkinson)

A shoot by Norman Parkinson for Glamour Magazine in 1955 was an unexpected hit, with Hepburn and Givenchy creating yet another iconic moment in fashion. Shot in Rome, Hepburn wears a light pink, afternoon cocktail dress from the designers Spring/Summer 1955 collection. The sleeveless dress was made from grosgrain and featured a resin button detail on the front and pleated skirt from the hip. The photograph itself was taken in Hepburn’s rented villa, La Vigna, where she stayed whilst she filmed War and Peace.

Article originally published in The National Student.

By Ria Newman

See more from our Travel Editor @riathewriter, Bill Bryson wannabe.