9 Things You Never Knew About Audrey Hepburn

9 Things You Never Knew About Audrey Hepburn
‘For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.’ Audrey Hepburn

She's the Hollywood icon that has captured the hearts of generations of film and style lovers. Now, in a new book dedicated to the Breakfast At Tiffany's star, author Joanna Benecke reveals the things you didn't know...

 

 

She gave the world the Little Black Dress...

 

In a 2010 survey conducted by LOVEFiLM, Audrey’s little black number from Breakfast at Tiffany’s was chosen as the best dress ever worn by a woman in a film. Tailored to flatter Audrey’s sylph-like frame to perfection – by Hubert de Givenchy, the legendary French designer who loved Audrey like a ‘sister’ – this satin creation is the ultimate in timeless chic. Teamed with a classic up-do, string of pearls and cigarette holder, the iconic ensemble seems so perfectly organic now, but did you know that Givenchy’s daring original design (with a slit open all the way to Audrey’s thigh) had to be tempered by doyenne of costume designers, Edith Head, at Paramount’s request?

She didn't follow trends...

Think you need flesh-flashing gowns and copious amounts of bling to steal the spotlight? Think again. Audrey eschewed the bombshell tactics of her attention-grabbing contemporaries in favour of strong clean lines, bold blocks of colour and quirky statement pieces (a bow-tie here, a conical straw hat there) to create a strikingly simple signature look that was all her own.

She had insecurities...

Strange though it may seem, Audrey always thought her feet and her nose too big, proving that – no matter how beautiful – women are always their own harshest critics. Her son Luca explains, ‘One of the reasons for her low self-esteem is that when she started out some newspaper articles depicted her as not so perfect. She had big feet [a US size 10], a big nose and small breasts. She wasn’t at all what the average beautiful girl was perceived as, especially by men.’

 

Watch How To Do An Audrey Hepburn Style Up-Do

 

She was extremely self-disciplined...

The value of Audrey’s early devotion to dance was not lost on Humphrey Bogart – who played Audrey’s sedate-but-smitten love-interest in Sabrina. ‘She’s disciplined,’ he drawled, ‘like all those ballet dames.’

Her childhood dreams were crushed...

After moving back to England, Audrey supported herself as a model so she could study at the prestigious Ballet Rambert in London. Her dreams came crashing down when she was told that, although she had talent, the malnutrition she had suffered as a child had weakened her constitution and this – combined with her height – meant she would never achieve her dream of becoming a prima ballerina. Rather than letting this news crush her, Audrey decided to concentrate on her acting.

Her started out as a chorus girl...

Audrey’s rise to fame is like something straight off the silver screen. With her mother working menial jobs to support the family, Audrey knew she had to find employment too. With her dancing background, looking for work as a chorus girl in the West End made sense. In her own words, ‘I needed the money; it paid ₤3 more than ballet jobs.’ After being spotted by a casting director, Audrey registered as a freelance film actress. You can glimpse an unknown Ms Hepburn in minor roles in the 1951 movies, One Wild Oat, Laughter in Paradise, Young Wives’ Tale and The Lavender Hill Mob. She landed her first major supporting role in Thorold Dickinson’s Secret People (1952), playing a ballerina (of course she performed all her own dance sequences). However, her first starring role was to be on the stage, not the screen. 

She was the original Gigi...

Long before Leslie Caron played the Parisian courtesan-in-training in Vincente Minnelli’s film version, Audrey owned the part. As soon as the author Colette, on the hunt for a lead actress for the dramatised version of her novel, spotted Audrey she reportedly announced, ‘Voilà! There’s . . . Gigi!’

Her accent was an eclectic mix..

A mixture of Dutch inflections and British elocution lessons, Audrey’s dulcet tones, complete with drawn-out vowels and sometimes unusual emphasis, defy imitation.

She is a timeless icon...

As shoe-designer to the stars Manolo Blahnik puts it, ‘the imprint of Miss Hepburn is absolutely, totally present. Like it or not, she will be the most important look of the twentieth century.’

 

Photographs and text taken from the book 100 Reasons to Love Audrey Hepburn by Joanna Benecke. Published by Plexus Publishing at £14.99.

 

 

 
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