Audrey Hepburn. She’s the slender, willowy waif from another era–from a place where elegance is highly revered and gracious beauty is respected. Pictured above in a fashion portrait by Richard Avedon in 1961, she is undoubtedly one of the greatest cultural icons of our time. Actress and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn died in 1993 at age 63. She would have turned 85 years old yesterday.
The epitome of style and grace partnered with an aloof sex appeal that is never overt, Audrey Hepburn was incredibly influential in the field of fashion, and won several awards for her costumes in her films.
She coined the term ‘little black dress’ in 1961 during the filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, when she wore the Hubert de Givenchy cut-out sheath cocktail dress, below, so elegantly with a backward draping of pearls and her Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses.
With her hair pulled up into a regal French twist and topped with a tiara, Audrey further accessorized with opera length gloves, let us not forget those, and a long cigarette holder of exaggerated proportions. The look is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century American cinema.
The delicate creature literally swept through cinema during Hollywood’s decadent Golden Age with her characteristic svelte limbs and giant, doe, anime eyes, and all while wearing to-die-for couture gowns, epic hats or intricate updos, and of course the signature gloves fit for a queen, in 1964’s My Fair Lady.
The film won eight Oscars, for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor, Cinematography, Sound, Original Music Score, Art Direction, and finally, for Cecil Beaton’s outrageously gorgeous Costume Design.
Above, Beaton photographs Audrey for the promotional shots of the film. Indeed, she looks like aristocracy and so it is fitting that the über-elite–the royalty of Hollywood–would court her as their muse.
Photographer Richard Avedon explained his feelings to a reporter about the arresting beauty, a perpetual stunner. He said, “I am, and forever will be, devastated by the gift of Audrey Hepburn before my camera…. I cannot lift her to greater heights. She is already there. I can only record, I cannot interpret her. There is no going further than who she was….She has achieved in herself her ultimate portrait.”
And now some classic photographs by Avedon of his muse–a lady and a legend–cinematic royalty, Audrey Kathleen Hepburn.
“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode,” Audrey said, “but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives…the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”