Audrey Hepburn – Influence on Fashion and the Image of Beauty

Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium.

Hepburn’s appreciation for the little things in life and her endless passion to give to the less fortunate undoubtedly stemmed from her experience surviving Nazi occupation during the Second World War.During World War II, 16-year-old Audrey was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital. One of the injured soldiers Audrey helped was a young British paratrooper – and future director – named Terence Young.More than 20 years later, Young directed Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (1967).  This only shows how Hepburn’s compassion and willingness to help from a young age paid off for her in the future.

After suffering malnutrition and depression during the war, Hepburn was rendered incapable of following her dream of becoming a prima ballerina. After modelling for a while to make a living, Hepburn was cast for several small parts in movies and she was soon discovered by the makers of Roman Holiday and her role as Princess Anne earned her an Oscar and a spotlight in Hollywood.

Directors and producers of her time would say that she was such a popular actress due to her “elf like” features and graceful air. She was certainly deemed as unconventionally beautiful throughout her career in Hollywood in the 50’s and 60’s. Her tall, slim figure with her charming Parisienne facial features made her an alternative image of beauty to the curvy, blond movie stars of her time such as Marilyn Monroe.

It’s no wonder she was listed as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world in People’s magazine. However, like everyone she had insecurities despite people seeing her as one of the most beautiful and elegant movie stars of her time. For example she was very self-conscious of things like her size 10 feet. Little did she know, what she deemed as unattractive about herself would soon become an iconic image of beauty even after her death.

Hepburn was fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy‘s muse, who dressed her for her most popular movie roles such as Sabrina and Love in the Afternoon. Givenchy also designed the famous little black dress in breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn later said, “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier; he is a creator of personality.”

Her beauty and class are so prominent in her presence on screen that it is usually overlooked that her leading role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was an escort. It’s ironic that young girls going to their school dances ask the makeup artist to make them look like Miss Golightly who was basically a classy hooker.

Audrey Hepburn’s iconic fashion style throughout her life can be described as lady like and polished yet charming and somehow unique to her personality. She wore dresses that were tight around the waist, with high and squared neck lines and modest fabrics unlike Monroe’s famously sparkly dresses which often showed off a lot of cleavage. Both were beautiful woman who influenced the fashion for woman despite being so different.

At the end of the sixties she retired from Hollywood but appeared from time to time on the set for a few films. From 1988 on she worked for UNICEF as a special ambassador, helping children in Latin America and Africa, a position she retained until 1993.

Through being a devoted humanitarian and a kind person throughout her life, Hepburn has not only changed the image of beauty through her physical appearance but has also shown that beauty is not that superficial. To be truly beautiful one should be compassionate and help others.

In a famous quote she says: “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows.”

By Anousheh Seddigh-Tonekaboni