If Marilyn Monroe was an icon of the ’50s, then the ’60s belonged to Audrey Hepburn. In all honesty, it’s only recently that I’ve truly come to appreciate Marilyn in all her busty bombshell glory – when I was a kid, for me, it was all about Audrey. Her doe-eyes, inscrutable expression, and that scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s… I was in love with Audrey long before I’d ever seen her act in a movie – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows her primarily from her photographs rather than from her performances. My earliest memory was being enchanted by her character in My Fair Lady – probably the greatest ‘make over’ movie of all time, and certainly one that could be appreciated by a little, tubby, bespectacled kid from a council estate.
Audrey: The 60s is an ode to Ms Hepburn as a model, muse, actress, mother, friend and co-worker – a treasure trove of unique images and quotes, many of which are seen here for the first time since their original publication. From stunning close-up shots, to candid snaps on set, every image captures a different side of Audrey’s quirky spirit, ethereal beauty, sweet nature – and yes, her insecurities, too.
The quotes come from an impressive array of sources: movies, press reviews, friends, directors, photographers, fashion designers and more, including Sophia Loren, Walter Matthau, Cecil Beaton, Elizabeth Taylor, Hubert De Givenchy and her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer. They paint a picture of a woman who was humble, modest, stylish, dutiful, sweet and down to earth – a perfectionist who believed her great fame came from unbelievable luck rather than anything else, and a woman who loved to laugh and enjoyed the company of others. Throughout the volume, her colleagues speak highly of her hard work and talent, while photographers and fashion designers gush about her style, grace and beauty. Audrey’s own quotes range from fluffy motivational snippets, to some dark, revealing confessions, which speak of a lack of self confidence, occasional insecurities, and an art for self-depreciation. It’s clear to see why she was so easy to love – and it’s hard to get through the book without feeling your heart swell, just a little, for this highly complex and fascinating individual.
All of this, and I haven’t even touched on those gorgeous pictorial spreads – photo after photo, they prove, one after the other, that Audrey’s appeal is timeless – her style still relevant today, and her grace apparent even in the most casual of settings. Contained within these pages are photos from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Children’s Hour, Charade, Paris When It Sizzles, My Fair Lady, How To Steal A Million, Two For The Road, and Wait Until Dark – plus, there’s another section simply titled ‘fashion’, which is fairly self-explanatory! These movies are diverse enough to show a wide range of costumes and settings, from dramatic thrillers in which Audrey’s simple clothes still mark her as a fashion icon, to the extravagant stylings of My Fair Lady, and the Mod style from Two for the Road. In fact, it was the shots from this movie in particular that fascinated me the most, as this characteristically ’60s’ style seemed somehow like a very drastic departure from her usual dress.
Of course, as I love to write about food as much as fashion, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention the two rather contradictory comments in the book about Audrey’s eating habits. Photographer Steven Meisel remembers her tucking into a peanut butter and jam sandwich during a break from a photoshoot, while Rex Harrison states that she was “in the habit of eating only raw vegetables” on the set of My Fair Lady. Make of that what you will…
Surprisingly insightful, continuously charming, and of course, utterly beautiful, Audrey: The 60s is one of my favourite coffee table books, and a goldmine for anyone interested in ’60s fashion and the eternal, effortless style of Audrey Hepburn. Even if you’re not a ’60s girl, I have no doubt you’ll feel like one after a flick through this!
Audrey: The 60s, by David Wills and Stephen Schmidt, is available now for $40 from It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. Visit http://www.audreythe60s.com for more information.
All images in this post are taken from Audrey: The 60s. A complimentary copy was provided to me for the purposes of this review.