Ever an eternal icon in film and fashion, Audrey Hepburn was famous for her distinctive appearance. Upon her rise to stardom in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, with her short hair, thick eyebrows and “gamine” looks, Hepburn presented an alternative feminine ideal that engaged women’s attention more than of men, in comparison to curvy bombshells of the time. In an article for Vogue in 1954, the renowned fashion photographer stated Hepburn as the “public embodiment of our new feminine ideal,” and added, “Nobody ever looked like her before World War II… Yet we recognise the rightness of this appearance in relation to our historical needs. The proof is that thousands of imitations have appeared.”
Audrey Hepburn’s fashion styles in the 1950s
It is undeniable that fashion has a big hand in Hepburn’s career, in fact, it even plays an unusually central role in many of her films, as stated by Rachel Moseley, that “the costume is not tied to the character, functioning ‘silently’ in the mise-en-scène, but as ‘fashion’ becomes an attraction in the aesthetic in its own right.” This remarkable consequence comes from a lifelong friendship between Hepburn and French designer Hubert de Givenchy, who initially disappointed that “Miss Hepburn” whom he was hired to design the on-screen wardrobe for the 1954 film Sabrina was not Katharine Hepburn. Givenchy later designed many costumes for his style muse, both on and off-screen. Hepburn herself once stated that the French designer “gave me a look, a kind, a silhouette. He has always been the best, and he stayed the best. Because he kept the spare style that I love. What is more beautiful than a simple sheath made an extraordinary way in a special fabric, and just two earrings?” While according to Givenchy, “It was a kind of marriage.”
Take a look back at the timeless style of the icon through these photos:
May 1, 1950. Audrey Hepburn leaning on an ornate urn in Kew Gardens. Photo by Bert Hardy-Picture Post.
1951. Audrey Hepburn carrying a net on the beach at Rottingdean, East Sussex. Photo by Joseph McKeown.
May 1953. Audrey Hepburn posing for a publicity shot in London. Photo by Sunday Pictorial.
May 21, 1953. Audrey Hepburn waves as she stands in front of the steps of her plane at London airport after arriving from New York. Photo by Daily Mirror.
October 1953. Audrey Hepburn on the set of ‘Sabrina,’ New York.