Vintage Bookclub – Audrey: The 60s

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 coverAudrey: 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.
Audrey The 60s spread 2The 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.
Audrey The 60s spread 4All 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.
Audrey The 60s spread 5Of 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…

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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.

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Vintage Bookclub – 1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook

The second book in a series of fashion tomes dedicated to 2oth century clothing, 1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook is a collection of carefully curated photographs, illustrations and publicity shots which pull together an overview of a decade in fashion. Mostly concentrating on the two most influential sources for women’s fashions during the decade – French fashion houses, and Hollywood pictures – the book covers everything from movie stills to catalogue spreads, giving a concise overview of the styles and silhouettes of the day.

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A lengthy introduction neatly explains the decade’s attitude to fashion – sandwiched between two of the most tumultuous events of the last century (namely, the start of the Great Depression and the declaration of World War II), the 30s is often overlooked. Coming between the glamour of the 20s and the practicality of the 40s, this is a decade that draws a blank with many people, yet was responsible for transforming the free and easy flapper of the Roaring Twenties into the pragmatic factory girl of the war. Although brief, this overview is hugely educational and gives a fantastic background to the gorgeous images that follow.

At nearly 600 pages, and with over 600 illustrations packed into its glossy pages, this is a treasure trove for the vintage fashion lover, containing original (some never before seen) imagery sourced from everywhere from news archives to magazine covers, press and publicity shots, and catalogues.

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The book is divided into six main sections, including the introduction, plus daywear, outerwear, eveningwear, accessories and ‘other’, which includes sportswear, wedding dresses, childrens’ clothes, underwear and nightwear.

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There is a vast array of imagery to dwell on in here – and although the social history is mostly left down to your interpretation, as original editorial content from the day is limited to a few captions here and there which remain on the images themselves, this really feels like a book you could flick through for years and still discover something new on each reading.

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The book is also crammed full of photos of beautiful Hollywood stars – above is Dorothy Lamour in a silk evening dress from 1939, and there are also photos of Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford (in her famous Letty Lynton gown), Fay Wray and Barbara Stanwyck. amongst others.

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The accessories section is of particular interest if you’re a massive hat enthusiast like me – although shoes were a bit thin on the ground (ha) but obviously visible in the full-length shots.

Even if you’re not a vintage follower who concentrates on ’30s fashion, this is a definite must-have for your book collection – and it’s definitely inspired a passion for the era in me! Graceful silhouettes, bold tailoring, gorgeous accessories, and glamour on every page – what’s not to love about this beautiful and under-appreciated decade!

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This truly beautiful coffee table book was edited by Charlotte Fiell and Emmanuelle Dirix, and is out now for £30 from Goodman Fiell Books. Find it at Amazon here, currently at £19.20. C’mon, give the ’30s some love!