Audrey & Hubert
Posted on 04 May 2016
Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy’s first meeting is told time and time again, the tale of a meeting from which a relationship that would span a lifetime was born. It is told that Hepburn went to Givenchy’s Paris studio looking for stylish pieces for her wardrobe in Sabrina. She was announced as the actress ‘Miss Hepburn’ and Givenchy was surprised (and perhaps a little disappointed) that it was not Katherine Hepburn that walked through the door.
As Givenchy did not have the time nor staffing power to design original garments for the movie at that early time in his career, Hepburn selected outfits from his existing collections. She saw exactly who she wanted Sabrina to be and added her own personal touch to the now iconic costumes. The connection that sparked between them that day lead to great business relationship but also a very deep friendship.
Hepburn bought Givenchy onto the costume team for many of her movies after the success of Sabrina. Givenchy designed new couture gowns for her role in Funny Face which transformed Hepburn into a style icon.
Then there was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which gave the world one of the most iconic dresses in history. Givenchy’s long black gown with demure cut outs and huge pearls was a work of genius.
Givenchy styled Hepburn in classic, yet modern, simple designs. He emphasised her face and her slender neck. With Hepburn’s input hats became the order of the day. Together they created a new style for the new woman: chic, modern and sexy.
Their relationship blossomed as Hepburn continued to turn to Givenchy when in need of a new sartorial masterpiece. Givenchy spoke of going shopping with Hepburn when she required a garment he did not make and receiving phone calls from her begging for forgiveness when she visited another designer. The two of them were very alike, well organised and ruthlessly passionate about their work. While Hepburn was often very self-critical she found a sense of security with Givenchy. She even went as far as to suggest that Givenchy’s garments made up for what she perceived she lacked in dramatic technique. “It was often an enormous help to know that I looked the part,” she explained. “Then the rest wasn’t so tough anymore. Givenchy’s lovely simple clothes [gave me] the feeling of being whoever I played.”
Later in her life, while suffering from terminal cancer, Givenchy arranged for a private jet to transport Hepburn and her family to Switzerland where she wished to reside in peace, away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. Shortly before her death in 1993 Hepburn gave Givenchy several of the dresses he had made for her over the years which he has since distributed to museums throughout the world.
Their relationship remains historic, not only as the pinnacle of great relationship between film and fashion but as the merging of two souls, who together created something that changed the world.