The Audrey Hepburn Obsession

“I never think of myself as an icon.  What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind.  I just do my thing.” – Audrey Hepburn.  As we’ve mentioned in our Look-of-the-Day today, it would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 82nd birthday, if she had lived to 2011.  Our editors have loved her as long as we can remember, watching Roman Holiday and Sabrina as little girls.  She is THE fashion icon, plain and simple.  Here are the top ten reasons we’re in love with Audrey Hepburn:

  1. Motherhood:  However messy Audrey’s love life might have been, she did produce two adoring sons; Sean, with first husband Mel Ferrer, and Luca, with second husband Andrea Dotti.  Sean Ferrer has said, “She really was like those characters you saw in the movies, emotional, courageous, delicate, and romantic.”  He went on to write a biography about the famous actress, but he told the story of a mother, not of any of the characters she portrayed. “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”
  2. Humanitarian:  Audrey retired from acting while at the top of her game in the 1960s, to devote her life’s work to being a mother and later as a UNICEF ambassador.  She remembered that UNICEF was responsible for bringing her food and medical relief when World War II ended and she wanted to do her part in helping starving children around the world.  Audrey took field trips to Venezuela, Ecuador, Turkey, El Salvador, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.  She became a voice for people who didn’t have one.  She testified before Congress, launched UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children reports, participated in benefit concerts and tirelessly gave speeches to the media, sometimes as many as 15 interviews a day in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  In December of 1992, Audrey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given in the U.S., by President George H. W. Bush.  Although Audrey was stricken with cancer that year, she still continued her work with UNICEF, and even travelled to Kenya and Somalia. “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second to help others.”
  3. Dutch Resistance:  Audrey wanted to be a prima ballerina and studied ballet throughout her childhood.  When she was in German-occupied Netherlands,  Audrey would perform for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch Resistance (anti-Nazi efforts) and she volunteered as a nurse in a Dutch hospital.  At 16, Audrey was tending to a young injured soldier, a British paratrooper, who would one day become the famous director of her Oscar-nominated performance, more than 20 years later, in Wait Until Dark: Mr. Terence Young.  “It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.  This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.  Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it.'”
  4. Wonderful Friend:  Apparently there isn’t a co-star that didn’t fall a little bit in love with Audrey… except for Humphrey Grumpy.  Gregory Peck has said, “There is no doubt that the princess did become a queen – not only on the screen.  One of the most lovely, one of the most skillful, one of the most intelligent, one of the most sensitive, charming actresses – and friends in my life – but also in the later stages of her life, the UNICEF ambassador to the children of the world.  The generosity, sensitivity, the nobility of her service to the children of the world, and the mothers of the world, will never be forgotten.”
  5. Unlimited Capacity for Love:  Audrey was in love with being in love.  She was deserted by her father as a child and longed for someone to fill that void.  Although she was married twice, and had a third partner until the time of her death, Audrey managed to spread love in her trails like Tinkerbell with her fairy dust.  Audrey loved her sons, she loved her friends, she loved her co-stars, and she loved every child in the world.  “Your heart just breaks, that’s all.  But you can’t judge, or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”
  6. Self-DepricatingAudrey was never the one to shy away from poking fun at herself.  She had sworn time and time again that she couldn’t act, couldn’t sing, and could never make it to the big screen with her perfectly “funny face.”  To this day she is still voted as one of the best actresses, and one of the most beautiful women ever.  It’s not hard to see why – her beauty certainly wasn’t skin-deep.  “I never thought I’d land in pictures with a face like mine.”
  7. EGOT Winner: Audrey is one of only 12 people that have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award.  She won them for the following: Emmy for “Flower Gardens” episode of Gardens of the World Outstanding Individual Achievement  for Informational Programming (she won this posthumously); Grammy for Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales for the Best Spoken Word Album for Children (won posthumously); Oscar for Roman Holiday for Best Actress in 1954, and she also won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993 (posthumously); Tony for Ondine for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play in 1954 and then she won a Special Tony Award in 1968.  “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”
  8. Vast Intelligence:  Audrey was bilingual in English and Dutch, but she was also fluent in Italian, Spanish, German, and French, which helped her travels immensely with UNICEF.  “A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.”
  9. Animal Lover:  Audrey was known for loving people, but she was also very kind to her pets.  The animal handler on the set of Green Mansions insisted that Audrey bring home the baby deer, named Pippin and affectionately called “Ip,” so that it would naturally follow her in the movie.  She also featured her Yorkshire terrier, Mr. Famous, in Funny Face in the train scene.  After Mr. Famous died from being hit by a car, her first husband, Mel Ferrer, gifted her with another yorkie.  During her later years, she owned two Jack Russell Terriers named Penny and Missy, whom she called “my little hamburgers.”  “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”
  10. Fashion Icon Forever:  Audrey loved fashion even as a young girl.  She didn’t have much when she was fighting for her life during World War II, and still didn’t have much when she and her mother moved to London with very little money.  But, Audrey had one colorful scarf that she could wear twenty different ways.  As Audrey was exploding onto the big screen, she would epitomize the revolution of Coco Chanel’s simplicity and love of black.  In a film adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey donned a LBD by Givenchy.  From then on, the LBD has become an essential garment in a woman’s wardrobe.  That same dress would later be auctioned off for $920,000 in December of 2006.  That same year the GAP released their “skinny black pant” and used a clip of Audrey from Funny Face wearing skinny black pants dancing all over the place!  “My look is attainable.  Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses.”

People should keep in mind that while it’s important to incorporate Audrey into your everyday wardrobe, it’s mainly important to maintain her outlook.  Always a positive thinker, she said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!'”

4 thoughts on “The Audrey Hepburn Obsession

  1. She has got to be one of the most beautiful and effortlessly stylish women ever. I’ve admired her since I was a little girl and try to imitate her style more times than not! Happy birthday Audrey :)

  2. Such a classy lady – inside and out. Too bad more Hollywood types don’t have her class and style. She never forgot the help she received and gave it back ten-fold. Happy Birthday Audrey!

  3. Pingback: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, by Tim Gunn « the Skinny Stiletto

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