Photo Credit: Moviepix / Getty Images
very week, VF.com staffers pick an iconic photograph and examine what really went on behind the shot. Today, we look at a 1954 photograph of Audrey Hepburn that furthered her role as an international style star and forged a lifelong friendship with a major French designer.
Before the diamonds and pearls of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there was the quietly seductive black pantsuit in Sabrina. With a cinched waist and embellished flats, starlet Audrey Hepburn took a simple promotional film photo and made it one of the most talked about outfits of 1954.
Photographed by Bud Fraker, former department head of still photography at Paramount Pictures, Hepburn lounged with a knowing smile—although she probably couldn’t predict the universal acclaim and Academy Award nomination her performance in Sabrina would gain.
The design lines are blurry as to who originally created the black pantsuit. The idea probably stemmed from a combination of the legendary head of the studio’s wardrobe department, Edith Head, and the then-young-designer Hubert de Givenchy, whose French fashion house was founded two years prior. Over multiple fittings, a friendship between Hepburn and Givenchy blossomed.
“Little by little, our friendship grew and with it a confidence in each other,” Givenchy told the Telegraph.
Much to Hepburn’s chagrin, Givenchy never got the recognition he deserved for his Sabrina creations: “[Sabrina] won an Oscar for the dresses but I didn’t get any credit,” Givenchy said to the The Wall Street Journal. “She was furious. She demanded ‘Each time I’m in a film, Givenchy dresses me.’”
After working together for several more movies, including Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and How to Steal a Million, they began to consider each other not just friends, but family. Hepburn referred to him as her big brother, and Givenchy said that their relationship was “a kind of marriage.”
She would call “just to tell me how much she loved me,” Givenchy told Vanity Fair’sAmy Fine Collins, “and then she’d say bye-bye and hang up.”
Before Hepburn’s death in 1993, she gave Givenchy 25 pieces that he had designed for her, which in turn, he is lending to museums around the world. “Audrey’s style is so strong,” he said. “The force, the presence, the image, is so strong.”