Through fashionable Paris in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn

    Philippa
    04 Feb 2015
    Clock 80min      Length2mi
    Rating
    3 ratings
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    Givenchy Headquarters

    Givenchy Headquarters
    Through fashionable Paris in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn

    Turn right up the left hand pavement of the Avenue George V and just past the cafe George V you will come to the headquarters of Givenchy at Number 3. Stop for a minute when you see it. This is one of the most prestigious streets in Paris, home to embassies, couture houses, and one of the city's grandest hotels.

    Audrey Hepburn came here many times to consult with Hubert de Givenchy. He helped craft her distinctive look, and in return, she acted as his muse. But their first meeting wasn't an immediate success. It took place at Givenchy's first studio, near the Parc Monceau.

    It's 1954, and Audrey Hepburn is 24 years old. The previous year, she had filmed "Roman Holiday" with Gregory Peck and become an overnight sensation. Now she is about to make her second major film, "Sabrina," with William Holden and Humphrey Bogart.

    Edith Head, the wardrobe director at Paramount Pictures, designed the costumes for "Roman Holiday" and Audrey's everyday dresses for "Sabrina." But the film calls for her to wear examples of real Paris haute couture.

    So the studio sends Audrey to visit Hubert de Givenchy at his Paris fashion house. The fashion designer is only 26, but he is already very successful. Givenchy is told that a Miss Hepburn is visiting from Hollywood, but he has not seen "Roman Holiday." He is expecting to meet Katherine Hepburn, a well-established actress with a commanding presence. So he is taken aback to meet a young woman casually dressed in pants, a pullover, and ballerina flats.

    He tells her he is too busy to design any costumes for her. But Audrey is determined, and talks him into letting her choose some outfits from his collection, including a stunning black and white ballgown.

    Of course, it is pure Hollywood fantasy that the daughter of a chauffeur who attends cooking school in Paris would wear such expensive clothes, but many things about "Sabrina" don't make sense, including the romance with Humphrey Bogart, a man three decades older than Audrey.

    Still, that film cemented the alliance between Audrey and Givenchy, a partnership that lasted for the rest of her life. As for Edith Head, she ended up getting credit for the costumes, and even won an Academy Award for her work on "Sabrina."

    Now retrace your steps towards the Metro entrance, and continue past it up the avenue Montaigne.

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