Analyzing the feminism of Audrey Hepburn’s films

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Yesterday was our #Maythe4thBeWithAudrey celebration in honor of her birth but we’re keeping the party going. In part of a special podcast, we looked at how Audrey Hepburn approached life offscreen. Today, we’re talking about her film roles and how her character’s feminist tendencies need to be given the credit they deserve. Joining me in this discussion are Simoa of the blog, Define Dancing, Kristen Lopez of the blog, Journeys in Classic Film, fashion expert Spencer (@the_s_is_sqaured) and writer/director/actress Maureen Lee Lenker.

I want to thank Simoa, Kristen, Spencer, and Maureen Lee for taking the time to discuss Audrey Hepburn with me. Each of these people are talented at what they do in their own right and our discussion has made me better when it comes to thinking about Audrey and classic film. When I first set out to do this project it was much bigger but time didn’t lend itself to go as in depth as I wanted to particularly in the fashion section. Spencer is a recent graduate in fashion and our talk went into more specifics about Audrey’s films Charade and How to Steal a Million. I want to share what he discussed with me that was unfortunately cut for time:

“A lot of what Audrey’s style is based on is how effortless it looks. The clothes she wore in real life and in her films are comparatively simple. What made it timeless is how well it fit her. She was one of the first actresses to officially be the face of a fragrance: L’Interdit.

On Charade: “The costumes are also iconic but in a lowkey way. When she moves into the hotel, she brings only the clothes she had on vacation with her and you can see when the wardrobe is open every costume from the movie. To me, it makes you aware of her clothes and she has only six outfits and they are the best six outfits any woman in Paris in 1963 could possibly have.”

“It’s one of the movies that makes you more aware of her clothes. Yes, she wears Givenchy but here, they are not seen as costumes. In Charade, the clothes not only support the character but become emblematic of her life in that movies.”

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On How to Steal a Million‘s mod styling:

“Her costumes are very ladylike, very ladies who lunch, very elegant. They’re essentially the same silhouette as the costumes she wore in Charade. For example, the black lace look. Nicole, her character, puts on this costume to be in this heist movie that she has found herself in. She wants to look like the mysterious femme fatale so she puts on the lace mask, the metallic silver eye shadow to go to the ritz bar to have her secret meeting with her handsome thief.”

In the scene right before the heist happens, she’s paired with Peter O’Toole. The outfit is so conservative so no one thinks she’s any sort of threat and that’s why I like this movie because in a way the costumes move the story along almost more than any of her other films.”

On Breakfast at Tiffany’s:
“To me, her costumes in that are Holly’s uniform. We know, cause we’re in real life, that it’s all designed by Givenchy and it’s super high level but in the film Holly probably went to Macy’s or Woolworth’s or something like that and she has two dresses, two coats, and her off hours look in that little closet of hers and she’s really deft with accessorizing. The movie isn’t fashion centric, it’s story centric, the clothing doesn’t really move the plot along. Yes, it’s incredibly iconic but to me the film is not about the clothes.”

Songs used in the podcast:

Overture – My Fair Lady

Gabrielle – Paris When it Sizzles

Something for Cat – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

S’Wonderful – Funny Face

Main Title – Charade

Two for the Road – Two for the Road

Moon River – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

If you missed part one of this special podcast dedicated to Audrey Hepburn, the woman, click below:

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