This week will be the tale of two Assholes in Paris – Sean and Jay are there on vacation. They’re posting about various movies set in Paris (On Valentine’s day they were at Le Moulin Rouge – guess which movie the reviewed? Check it out below). Today we’re covering several movies, each of them revolving around a quintessential French star (who was actually American) – Audrey Hebpurn.
Sabrina is one of my favourite Audrey movies. It’s not really set in Paris, but it does open there, with Sabrina at a French cooking school. Today Sean and I are also at a French cooking school, learning to make delicious macarons (Earl Grey and milk chocolate, and white chocolate and raspberry, if the syllabus is to be believed).
Sabrina is the chauffeur’s daughter who attracts the attention of the family’s playboy son (William Holden). He’s interested because she’s fresh and beautiful, but despite his ardour, she’s really be a better match for the older son, a serious business type (Humphrey Bogart). Fuck the plot though, this film is significant because it marks the beginning of
a great collaboration between Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy. He’d never heard of her when she first showed up in his French salon, assumed it must be Katharine Hepburn, in fact. But it was the start of a beautiful relationship. He supplied designs and dresses for her to wear in the film, and continued to do so for most of her career. The awkward thing is that the Academy gave the Oscar for costume design to Edith Head when in fact the outfits were created by Givenchy and personally selected by Hepburn.
Givenchy of course created her iconic look in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and started being credited
for providing her wardrobe in the credits. Audrey has said “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.”
Funny Face saw Audrey back in Paris again, this time because she’d been discovered as a frumpy bookshop clerk and turned into a high fashion model and whisked away to Paris to wear sumptuous dresses in elegant locations – running down the steps of the Louvre waving a scarf of red chiffon;
fishing on a barge on the Seine in cropped suit and straw hat; dashing through the Jardin des Tuileries in a cap-sleeved black dress.
Charade saw Audrey dressed in a lot of coats, smart suits, and trenches – perfect for drizzly Paris weather. It’s both a romance and a mystery set in the
city of light as poor Audrey is chased through Paris by men wanting the fortune that her murdered husband stole. Things are complicated but she always looks chic and put together. Givenchy focused on classic but straight lines, ushering a new aesthetic into the 60s.
Paris When It Sizzles is not Hepburn’s best movie. She stars as a secretary sent to type up a writer’s manuscript for his new movie, but she arrives: no script! She helps him get over his writer’s block by reenacting (I guess it’s more like fantasy sequences) different plot possibilities. The movie may not have worked, but Hepburn’s wardrobe sure did (although let’s not question how a she could
afford couture on a secretary’s salary). Givenchy was inspired by Paris in the spring to use a sorbet-coloured palette. He was also the first to receive a screen credit for a scent – Ms. Hepburn’s wardrobe AND perfume, it said, though I don’t think audiences could tell the difference. Still, how positively Parisian.
How To Steal A Million is also set in Paris. It’s a comedy-caper with stereotypical French art forgeries and museum heists. Audrey is a smart and sexy woman of the 60s, and above all, well-dressed. Her many stylish outfits led to co-star Peter O’Toole to quip, in character, during a scene
when Audrey is disguised as a cleaning lady,”it gives Givenchy the night off”.