The Hepburn Look
Her self-doubt, her lack of vanity only heightened her appeal. In the '50s, an age of showy blondes, she established a refined brunette ideal. "This girl single-handedly may make bosoms a thing of the past," predicted her Sabrina director, Billy Wilder. And indeed, this joyous gamine, with her pixie haircut, swan neck and boyish body that complemented everything she wore, set the fashion standard for the next decade—and beyond. "There are two or three people who will remain in the public's eye forever because their appeal is classic and timeless," Ralph Lauren noted in 1990. "Audrey Hepburn is No. 1."
To millions of moviegoers, Hepburn was high style. Designers all over the world credit their career choice to 1957's Funny Face, in which she played a bookworm who gets swept into the glamorous world of modeling by fashion photographer Fred Astaire. Hepburn's own sleek, modern look, though, owed much to her 40-year collaboration with Paris designer Hubert de Givenchy, whose clothes, she once said, "give me the confidence I don't have on my own."
To the end, she downplayed her status as a fashion icon. "My look is attainable," she told Barbara Walters in 1989. "Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large glasses and the little sleeveless dresses." In truth, though, it was not all that easy to capture the essence of Audrey. Just ask the millions of women who tried.