What helps a film star endure?
Being in classic films helps. And several of Audrey Hepburn’s films qualify as true classics. Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade come to mind.
But there needs to be more. A star has to influence the fashion and the culture of the times to be a true star, and their legacy must include more than their film performances.
In the case of Audrey Hepburn most people think of her not just as a film star, but as a humanitarian, and a fashion icon.
She was on the cover of several fashion magazines during her lifetime. We’ve selected two Vogue issues.
Perusing both, it becomes self evident why fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy regarded Hepburn as his “muse.” The designer dressed the actress for at least eight of her movies including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, perhaps Hepburn’s most stylish movie appearance.
As is sometimes the case with great screen beauties, Audrey was largely underwhelmed by her looks. Looking back to the start of her career in he 1950’s, she said:
I was the tall, thin shy girl with the big eyes. But what they wanted to know was whether I could sing, dance or act, or did I always just stand there looking in need of a damned good meal?
The French writer Colette had no trouble sorting out the two equations. She took one look at Audrey frolicking on a beach and declared, Voila ma Gigi.
It’s no wonder that Hepburn won the lead in the original 1951 Broadway production of Gigi. The Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe musical based on Colette’s 1945 novel about a 19th century French girl being prepared for life as a courtesan was a smash. (The cast of 1958 movie version inexplicably did not include Hepburn. The role of Gigi went to Leslie Caron.)
In the A. Hepburn edition of Taschen’s glossy series of books about movie icons, F. X Feeney writes: Her beauty has proved timeless…Equally graceful whether moving or standing still, blessed with a balletic poise, luminous dark eyes and an exquisite profile a Queen might envy…
No self-respecting camera could resist her…What sets her iconic beauty apart now, for us, more than (two decades) after she quit the stage of this life, is that her physicality is oddly secondary. Her extraordinary good looks merely halo a still-living smile.