Even if you’ve never seen one of her films (though you really should fix that ASAP) chances are you’d still recognize Audrey Hepburn.
In the opening scene of 1961’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn’s character – Holly Golightly – steps out of a taxi in a little black dress and gazes into the window of the eponymous jeweller’s.
Everything she wears in this scene is just right. From the sleek evening dress with the matching gloves to the dramatic necklace paired with a teeny tiny tiara. Like Marylin’s white dress in The Seven Year Itch, this costume has become a pop-culture touchstone, preserved by countless posters, t-shirts, tote bags and phone cases.
There’s something about this refined aesthetic, and the look of childlike wonder in her eyes, that we simply can’t get enough of. We dote on Audrey’s girlish mannerisms while looking up to her as an elegant, sophisticated lady.
But we can’t credit Audrey alone for this iconic moment. What’s so lovely about her enduring appeal is the large part played by her good friend and designer, Hubert de Givenchy.
They first met when Audrey was sent to Paris to pick out her costumes for the 1954 film Sabrina. She paid a visit to the recently established House of Givenchy but was told by Hubert himself that they sadly didn’t have the time nor the workforce to supply her with a new wardrobe.
She managed to charm him over dinner, however, and he allowed her to pick all the dresses she liked from his upcoming collection.
The rest is history. The two became firm friends and Givenchy went on to style Audrey in six more films – including that iconic LBD. Chic, cosmopolitan, and oh so wholesome, their friendship managed to capture the public’s adoration better than any billboard or magazine spread.
He even gifted her a bespoke fragrance in 1956, featuring notes of feminine Rose, sweet Tonka Bean, and soapy Aldehydes. When he proposed that they sell it commercially, Audrey chided him, “c’est interdit – that’s forbidden!”
She eventually relented and the fragrance, cheekily named L’interdit, was released a year later. Audrey, of course, fronted the campaign and became the first actress to become the face of a perfume.
L’interdit has had a makeover since then, but Givenchy has kept it true to Audrey’s essence by pairing feminine Tuberose and Orange Blossom with sensual Vetiver and Patchouli.
Recently, they’ve expanded the family with Intense and Rouge, keeping Audrey’s memory front and centre by featuring Rooney Mara as their ambassador. Coming full circle, Rooney is about to play Audrey in an upcoming biopic.
Here’s hoping they’ll reference Paris When It Sizzles and give Givenchy a perfume credit.