Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of the vintage British girl next door; she was cute but charming, smart but not arrogant, giving without boastfulness. Her style is synonymous with the Little Black Dress and chic European elegance, whilst her hairstyles set trends which have become so iconic in vintage fashion history they are still replicated today.
Born in Belgium in 1929, Audrey (or Adriaantje to her family) grew up speaking both English and Dutch, and moved back and forth between countries until her (questionably moralled) father left the family just before the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war, Audrey and her family suffered under Nazi occupation and the consequences would stay with her for life. Her willowy frame was a result of a combination of her dance background as a child and the Dutch famine experienced during the war years. Rumours have it that Audrey used her dance skills to perform at secret charity functions to raise money for the Dutch Resistance - a humanitarian, Oscar winning, Nazi fighter?! She just gets better and better!
After the war Miss Hepburn turned to ballet and acting, giving her acting debut in Dutch In Seven Lessons, and educational film about, yup, learning Dutch. It's on YouTube if you care to watch it. Just five short years later Audrey would pick up an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for her leading role in Roman Holiday alongside Gregory Peck. And that is where we will pick up the vintage fashion side of her story...
Roman Holiday showcased European fashion during the 1950s to the global audience, highlighting the obsession with Princess couture that was taking the world by storm (thanks, Dior). Her vintage style throughout the movie is ever changing, moving from the formal, stiff New Look to a more casual, laid-back vibe. And we can't forget to mention the hair cut. The hair cut! It's a pivotal part of the movie, a literal shedding of her royal looks, and was to popularise a trend which was mimicked by hundreds of women off screen. The 'Italian Cut' is still worn by many women who favour a shorter, 1950s inspired hair cut within the vintage community.
Moving forward a few more years we reach Breakfast at Tiffany's which is probably Audrey's most famous look and how the majority of people imagine her in their mind. The Little Black Dress, the bouffant chignon, the jewellery. Holly Golightly is one of Hollywood's most emulated characters and frequently reappears in pop culture as a vintage inspiration heroine. The vintage jewellery frequently takes centre stage throughout the film (probably why we like it so much!) and often steals the show. Although we aren't quite Tiffany's, you can see the influence of the late 1950s/early 1960s style in some of our pieces. Take for instance the Narrow Diamante bangles in black and white - they would set off any Holly Golightly inspired outfit to a tee, especially if you paired them with a white bead necklace. We definitely think Audrey Hepburn would have fitted our smaller Maiden range of bangles perfectly.
Off stage and set, Audrey Hepburn's style was casually effortless. She loved a slack trouser and ballet pump combo, and often teamed it with a light knit or fitted shirt. She lived an active life, contributing frequently to charity work across the globe, and her fashion choices mimicked this. Although she always looked like a princess at formal premieres and parties, it seems that Audrey was much more comfortable in well tailored casual wear. Jewellery wise, she loved wearing earrings was almost never seen without her lobes adorned in some form of stud, hoop or drop. She is attributed to the popularity of the drop hoop in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, so we can definitely thank her for some major vintage inspiration there!
Maybe it's because she is a little closer to home than the American Hollywood celebs of the mid-century golden years, but I have always had a soft spot for Audrey Hepburn. She stars in some of my favourite 1950s and 1960s films, her charity work was quiet but had a great impact, and her casual style is something that I always aspire to. She definitely deserves her place in our style spotlight, and she will shine there forever.