Through fashionable Paris in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn

    Philippa
    04 Feb 2015
    Clock 80min      Length2mi
    Rating
    3 ratings
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    Christian Dior

    Pay wave

    The front of Christian Dior, coming up on your right at the corner of Avenue Montaigne and rue Francois Premier, appears in "Paris When It Sizzles," made in 1964. In the film, Marlene Dietrich is seen stepping out of a white Rolls-Royce to enter the store.

    We're going to keep walking up Avenue Montaigne now, but it's well worth going inside later. I'd suggest coming back here after the walk, because the beautiful interior is extensive and there is so much to see.

    "Paris When It Sizzles" was the least successful of the films that Audrey made in Paris and was plagued with problems from the start. It is supposed to be a screwball comedy about a screenwriter suffering from writer's block. Audrey plays his assistant, and the two of them act out madcap fantasies for the screenplay the author is trying to finish. The writer is played by William Holden, who had appeared in "Sabrina" with Audrey ten years earlier and with whom she had had an brief affair.

    Holden was unsuccessfully trying to conquer his alcoholism when the film was being made, which didn't help. Marlene Dietrich was brought in to do a cameo in a last-ditch attempt to rescue the failing film, and so were Tony Curtis and Noel Coward. The studio waited two years to release the film, and even then the reviews were dismal.

    Hubert de Givenchy is credited as the "wardrobe stylist" for that film and Audrey at least got to wear some fetching frocks and suits, although her hair was done in a 1960s bouffant style that looks very dated now. Nevertheless, she looks wonderful, even in the scene where she is sitting in a bubble bath with a ridiculous pink bow on the top of her head.

    That touch can't have been Audrey's idea. Edith Head, the costume designer who worked with Audrey on several films, once said that Audrey understood fashion better than any actress other than Marlene Dietrich. Audrey took clothes seriously and would spend hours in fittings and consultations. Certainly she was a clotheshorse. At five foot six, with a twenty-inch waist, she looked elegant in everything she wore. Her dimensions did not alter as she got older, according to Givenchy, and he was certainly in a position to know.

    Keep walking up the Avenue and admiring the fashion boutiques. The Champs Elysées is coming up.

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