Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fashion in Films (Audrey Hepburn Classics): Roman Holiday

     All of the Blair Waldorf as Audrey Hepburn talks yesterday made me realize that it's about time for another installation of Fashion in Films, Audrey Hepburn classics. If Audrey is famous for her role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's then her second most recognizable role is Princess Ann in Roman Holiday, which is actually the role that won Audrey her first Best Actress Academy Award in 1953. And definitely one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time. The costume design for this film, and several other films in which Audrey starred in, was put together by none other than famous Hollywood costume designer, Edith Head. Have you ever seen the Pixar film, The Incredibles? Remember the short and snooty lady that designed the super heroes's costume, Edna Mode? I'm 99.9% sure that her character was based off on Edith. I mean the resemblance is just uncanny and quite comical. 

     Roman Holiday is the classic royalty-gone-rouge-in-pursuit-of-freedom type of movie in which Audrey Hepburn, as Princess Ann, runs away during the middle of her European tour to find herself involved (as induced by a sleeping sedative) with the American news reporter Joe Bradley played by Gregory Peck. And through a series of lies and supposed mistaken identity, Princess Ann was finally able to tour Rome without the confines of being a royal. But unbeknownst to her, Bradley was really a reporter trying to get an exclusive story of the princess and not a man in the 'import and export business.' After all, she didn't tell the truth about herself (she didn't really "run away from school") but she's completely oblivious that Irving, played by Eddie Albert, and Gregory Peck's characters are photographer and news reporter respectively. But rest assured, that trust wasn't broken in the finale of the film when Ann finally realizes who they are in a press conference held to quell the rumors of her disappearance and alleged 'sickness.' Oh, and p.s. if you're wondering where you've seen Gregory Peck before, if you read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and watched the film adaptation of this classic American tale, Peck played Atticus Finch. 

     But let's talk FASHION. Edith Head is one my favorite costume designers along with Patricia Field (Sex & the City) Eric Daman (Gossip Girl) and Janie Bryant (Mad Men.) I love her work in this film and most notably, in Breakfast at Tiffany's where the legendary LBD was made famous. However in this movie, Audrey Hepburn didn't have as much of a costume change since the majority of the film consisted of the scenes after her escape from the palace where she was staying in Rome. So her midi-skirt along with a long sleeve blouse with the sleeves rolled up and scarf served as the poster look of the film. As for the opening scenes of the films where Princess Ann was shown touring the world, Edith made Audrey look incredibly regal in ultra feminine and conservative silhouettes while taking on her royal duties. But her gown for the ball in the beginning of the film has to be my favorite. Audrey Hepburn made a very convincing Princess. But I guess those ultra formal and conservative clothes fed to Princess Ann's rebellion and choice to runaway after it was made clear that she wanted to wear pajamas instead of those hideous night gown she had to wear to bed that made her look ancient. 

     Obviously her decision to cut her hair in the film symbolized her freedom from all the pressure of living a life of a princess, but  I think we all collectively can agree that Audrey Hepburn with short hair and above the brow bangs is her signature look. Her wardrobe ensemble at the end of the film when she went back to the palace to resume her duties and face the press was a nice compromise of her yearning for freedom and sticking with her royal obligations. The reason why she ran away in the first place definitely stemmed from the fact that she felt like her life was out of her control, too predictable, and too scheduled. Upon her return back to the palace, she made it clear to everyone in her royal staff that she will fulfill all of her obligations, but in her own terms as made clear by the choice of wardrobe that looked less constricting. After all, I'm sure she wanted to feel more like Kate Middleton and less like Queen Elizabeth.

     Oh, and p.s.s. it was said that the movie was filmed in black in white so that the vibrant colors and romanticisms of Rome didn't take away from the movie and I agree. If this film was shot in color, I'm sure the sites of Rome would be too mesmerizing for the eyes. What do you think??

Love, KB

Audrey wins the 1953 Best Actress Oscar

costume designer Edith Head with Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer

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