24.4.07

And What Was The Big Deal Again?

It's an odd thing to be told that one of your favourite actresses is a style icon. I don't remember how old I was when I first saw Roman Holiday, but I'm fairly sure my age was still in the single digits and I freely admit that I'm biased when it comes to Audrey Hepburn- childhood loves are the next thing to sacred, and she happens to be one of mine. And at least in my immediate environment, love of Audrey flows free (partly influenced, I'm guessing, by her voice- that funny from-nowhere-in-particular accent she's got). We don't mind the fact that we've never fancied any of the male protagonists in her early movies, except for maybe Joe Bradley. And we truly respect the general awesomeness of a woman who can carry off what Psmith would call a whale of a hat- like the one below- and yet allow you to appreciate both her face and the hat in equal measure.
The blogosphere, on the other hand, seems a bit divided re: Ms Hepburn and whether she should in fact be a style icon or not. Not that we're not entitled to our own opinions, but I honestly don't think it's fair to call someone who had as much of an impact on the way women dressed in her time (and the way some of them dress even now) overrated simply because she didn't dress like Mary-Kate Olsen and looked ladylike most, if not all, of the time- she started out in the 50s, after all. But honestly, it really isn't about fashion. Half her appeal came from the fact that she bucked the 1950s trend as far as actress's figures went: busty and curvy was the order of the day (see Monroe, Marilyn. Or even Gardner, Ava), and blonde if possible- and somehow, she changed that. I suppose the biggest bit of all that was the idea that a film's female protagonist, or any girl, could be attractive while being something other than obviously sexy, which is an idea that's stood designers in good stead for quite a while now even if they didn't go with the shapes of the clothes she wore back then. And the 'something other than sexy' wasn't drab or boring- it was intelligent, sophisticated and yet didn't miss out on the (for lack of a better term) joie de vivre that being young is supposed to have. What added to it all was the fact that she knew how to play herself up, and did- the extent of her collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy on her movie costumes is something that never fails to amaze me. And before we start calling her out for not dressing like a latter-day hipster...I honestly don't think people had started going too far down that road when she was working in the movies, though Funny Face had that lovely dance with her in positively beatnikky-looking black. Most of all (and this is most important indeed) it wasn't really about the clothes at all- even the loveliest things would've been useless if she hadn't carried them off the way she did. Plus, most of her movie characters seem like they'd be fun to spend some time with. Marilyn Monroe was stunning all right, but I swear if I went out with her, she'd end up snitching any boy I fancy. Besides, sometimes non-revolutionary (i.e. Audrey as she's seen today), dignified (it's not a dirty word) dressing isn't such a bad idea. Like maybe when the boyfriend's parents have to be met.

22 comments:

Mrs Fashion said...

Audrey = Icon
And back in the day no-one dressed like MK-A... Hepburn's style defined an era. End of story.
Mrs F x

Yohan said...

I believe she's from Holland. Her father was English - hence the lovable mixed-up accent.

We don't have respectable style icons any more. [Is Kate Moss a style icon?]

Blue Floppy Hat said...

To a lot of people she is. I do like the way she wears things, but half of that is dependent on looking like you just got out of bed- not a good look for me.
Now nearly everyone in Hollywood is styled to within an inch of their lives, and it's either bad or boring. Practically zero individuality on display..

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Though to be honest, I love the way some of the younger French actresses dress, and they don't have stylists- Clémence Poésy is quite well put together. And I've been a fan of the way Lou Doillion dresses for quite a while now- even if it is heavily dependent on having rumpled hair. Her sister Charlotte is lovely too.

Perakath said...

If all you know of Audrey Hepburn is her movies, shouldn't credit go more to the costume designer than her own sense of style?

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Not really...from what I've read (and seen of her offscreen style), she collaborated pretty extensively with Givenchy and, before him, Edith Head, to get what she wanted out of her clothes. Which is why I have such respect for her, she wasn't just blindly picking off expensive things and she knew very well what worked.

Anonymous said...

Think she was German...

the lipstick lady said...

well said, I'm tired of this seemingly worldwide (or blogwide, come to think of it) slander of one of my favourite actresses

Emma said...

i must admit that sometimes audrey can wear thin, but I LOVE HER regardless. i mean, she is timeless. she transcends time. time is irrelevant to her. i'm running out of clever ways to say that she is...er...timeless.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Her mother was Dutch and her father was English (or Irish- I'm not quite sure which) and she lived in The Netherlands while it was occupied during WWII. And circa 2003/04 (the Years of LadyLike, as I call them), people did go a little overboard with the Hepburn references. But that doesn't, IMO, take away from her fabulousness at all.

Queen Michelle said...

Her status as a fashion icon is simply not debatable. The woman, as you very correctly pointed out, took the general representation of movie stars at the time to a different level - she wasn't obviously sexy, which was the usual selling point, she actually seemed almost asexual. I think people don't always see things in the context of the period. There is no-one even close to an equivalent of her today. It was about so much more than her clothes - it was her grace, her sophistication and kindness as a person, and the fact she was actually very private and didn't court the media in the way say Munroe did. Her status as an icon remains solid, I don't care who says otherwise.

Meg said...

She had an enduring style and an attitude to be admired, I don't think Kate Moss will be iconic in anyway in 50 years time, and her attitude to life certainly leaves a lot to be desired. I'd choose 'classics' over 'hipsters' anyday.

Queen Michelle said...

In 50 years I think Moss (if she evens lives another 50 years) will be looked upon as tragic, in a pitiful way. She will be perceived as once a shining star who fell victim to her own stupidity, and by that I mean her obsession with that total loser Pete D.

Perakath said...

But were any of you alive when Hepburn was doing all her jazz? Or are all these opinions based on pictures, articles, and other second-hand sources?

On the other hand, those are the only ways you can form opinions on contemporary figures too... unless you happen to be friends with Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Posh Beckham. In which case, Hi!

Yohan said...

Peter Doherty is no loser! He's a poet! I can see why Kate Moss seems to be under his spell.

[I'm a fanboy.]

I think Pete Doherty was something of a style icon for me. I bought a hat like the one he wears. Don't have the rest of the ensemble though.

william d. anderson said...

i like your blog a lot. keep up the good work. its interesting. i like reading a very different perspective other than my own, and i like the things you put together. nicely done.

w

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I kind of tend towards the school of thought that believes Pete Doherty is a genius, largely helped along by Yohan and my first-year roomie, Grace. And honestly, the junkie-ness? While he's alive there's still hope. And Kate doesn't talk, which just fuels things further..

Iheartfashion said...

In complete agreement about Audrey as style icon! I, too, saw Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffanys as a child and can't bear to hear a bad word about AH. She was always chic and classy, and looked divine as an older woman too. And you can't beat having Givenchy as personal stylist!

Perakath said...

Floppo, you forgot to thank Big Willy for his compliment! (You always thank them...)

Blue Floppy Hat said...

My bad..thanks, William :)

Meg said...

I don't think Pete Doherty has done enough to be declared a genius. Lou Reed is a genius, Patti Smith is a genius. Up the bracket was a decent album but definately not genius-worthy. He needs to a lot better than what he has with Babyshambles to earn that label. For now, he doesn't even measure half-way up to the legends.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

It's one of those time will tell things, I guess. The Libertines' stuff was great while it lasted, and I think he could probably top himself sometime, if he stays alive that is.

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