A Legend of grace and compassion Audrey Hepburn
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When it comes to Audrey Hepburn and fashion, you don't need to have seen a single one of the star's films to understand why she remains a style icon till today.
She had a strong fashion sense that captured the imagination of millions of other women and continues to have an impact.
Audrey Hepburn was a great beauty - tall and slim, with a pixie haircut that drew more emphasis to her strong cheekbones and big, dark eyes. She was naturally slim, not starved like so many modern actresses.
Her grace was born of a dancer's training and it meant that she wore even the simplest item of clothing with extra flair.
Simple was, in fact, the byword by which Audrey Hepburn lived when it came to her look. She favoured clean lines and a slim fit in plain colours. Many of her clothes were inspired by the look of men's wear, but it all had a distinct and absolute femininity.
The first visual many people will have when thinking about Audrey Hepburn and fashion is of her iconic outfit in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
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Wearing a body-skimming, sleeveless black dress worn with white opera gloves and accessorized with a big hat, sunglasses and a long cigarette holder, she is the embodiment of glamour.
These days, a wise woman would forgo the cigarette holder and the cigarette, but the rest of the look is timeless and beautiful. Coco Chanel had originated the idea of the little black dress, that perfect item that every stylish woman had to have, and Audrey Hepburn showed women how it could continue to be worn to great effect in a new era.
The 1950s are famous for colourful dresses in bold patterns cut in wide skirts. The excess of fabric and femininity was a natural response to the forced austerity of the war years in the 1940s. But as the decade went on, artists and Beat poets embraced another look, which Audrey Hepburn then made world- famous.
In a black turtleneck, black capri pants and black ballerina flats, she was breathtaking.
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She first made the Capri and ballet flat look popular in the film Sabrina and it's a look women continue to adore and try to emulate. In the 1950s, especially for younger women, it was exciting to opt for something so simple and elegant, rather than wear all the heavy foundation garments and layered dresses that had ruled the day till then.
From the release of Roman Holiday in 1953, Audrey became the epicentre of a shift in perception, an optical and figurative adjustment. Her refreshing image was the antithesis of the bosomy, curvy, blatantly sexy presence of a certain newly minted star. Audrey Hepburn was the most phenomenal thing that’s happened to the film capital since Marilyn Monroe.
Hollywood suddenly had two starry options, with diverging essences: the breathless sensuality of the powdery, pillowy Monroe, or the sleek, stylish, sexy angularity of Hepburn.
Marilyn led with her lips; Audrey captivated with her eyes—and both remain to this day the cinema’s most popular and beloved female icons.
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In 1954, Vogue posited her as today’s wonder-girl. She has so captured the public imagination and the mood of the time that she has established a new standard of beauty, and every other face now approximates the Hepburn look. Hepburn's signature style has become the most important look of the 21st Century and beyond. Ralph Lauren has stated that Audrey did more for the designer than the designer did for her. Indeed, her designers were thrilled; a true movie star could wear their clothes right off the catwalk, on the city streets, shopping, dining, dancing, receiving an award, as no other screen actress had been able to do before. Audrey was always more about fashion than movies or acting.
By the mid to late Sixties, Audrey's style was a contemporary reimagining of her Fifties look.
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Everything about her appearance at this time said one thing: affluence.
Her crisply tailored pant suits, Louis Vuitton shoulder bags, oversized sunglasses. Simplicity was her trademark, she had the originality never to wear any jewellery. And then suddenly she would appear at a premiere wearing earrings that reached down to her shoulders. There is a modernity about Audrey Hepburn that reaches beyond the time in which her films were made. Her performances, as fresh and delightful as they were when originally released, resonate with contemporary audiences. In the 1950s Audrey filled a place on the popular screen that no one knew was vacant, and when she retired she proved to be irreplaceable.
There is no actress alive who can turn a minute on-screen into a tutorial on poise, spontaneity, comic timing, professionalism, chemistry, and, of course, casual elegance.
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Similar to most of the great stars, she was equally popular with both male and female audiences. For men there was a vulnerability that brought out a need to protect and for women there was the dream of reinvention, the Cinderella makeover, that we saw again and again in her films.
Today we see Audrey's influence everywhere—on the street, on the red carpet, and in the photo shoots of young Hollywood. As her films are universally available, she becomes more ubiquitous with each successive year—and devoted fans, both the loyal and an ever-increasing legion of the new, find themselves seeking out Audrey in the many celluloid treasures she gave as gifts to the world. Audrey Hepburn’s Cinderella tale tells a personal version of happily ever after—the charming girl transformed into the elegant woman who became a legend of grace and compassion. To the end of her short life, Audrey Hepburn was all about sleekness and sophistication in fashion.
Trends come and go, but the Audrey Hepburn style remains in vogue.
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