Over the years, thanks to screenwriter Robert Avrech, I developed an appreciation for classic Hollywood. As is my nature, that which has interested me I really delved into research to learn all that I can.
Audrey Hepburn was, according to her son Sean Ferrer, An Elegant Spirit. No Hollywood diva, she. She grew up in Holland under the Nazis nearly starving, because her father felt that the Nazis were on the verge of invading England, and he should take his family to Europe.
Talk about timing.
Her first love was ballet, and for reasons I forget couldn’t make the cut, and started acting.
Anyway, a story I loved that illustrates her humility was told by her good friend, fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy.
“How did you first meet her?
Paramount Studios called. I was told that “Miss Hepburn” was coming to look for clothes for her new movie, “Sabrina.” Since I loved Katharine Hepburn’s style and look, I thought this was fantastic. But when the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T-shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read “Venezia.” I told her “Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers, I am in the middle of doing a collection, I can’t make you clothes.” So she said, “Show me what you have already made for the collection.” She tried on the dresses — “It’s exactly what I need!” — and they fit her, too. We just changed the top of the evening dress when she dances with William Holden in the tennis court from black jersey to a white organza bustier since it was for a summer ball.”
I don’t know what the “we have very few sewers” quote meant * – the original author probably something got mixed somewhere. But according to her son Sean, if I remember correctly, he told Audrey that he had an appointment already and was waiting for the customer (Katharine).
He got his Hepburns mixed up. And Audrey, not feeling like a diva, instead of pulling the “do you know who I am?” card, went looking for things he had already designed.
They laughed about this for years.
Incidentally, as far as I know, Audrey Hepburn was the only Hollywood star allowed to bring her own wardrobe to the sets. Remember, in classic Hollywood, the studios used their own designers such as Edith Head and Helen Rose. As far as I know, Hubert de Givenchy was her exclusive designer.
When Audrey was terribly ill with cancer, Hubert had her flown to UCLA from her home in Switzerland in his private jet.
Hubert died last Saturday at his home outside Paris.
Updates: The story, as I originally heard it, was that Audrey was making her first International picture, Roman Holiday (1953), and she heard of this new fashion designer. But the story I quoted quotes de Givenchy, and who am I to dispute him?
** Commenter Mike has it right – sew-ers. I guess I need to get my mind out of the