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.