05 May 2010
In Funny Face, Audrey Hepburn turns to a cynical Fred Astaire in a dimly lit, bohemian café and says: “Isn’t it time you realised that dancing is nothing more than a form of expression or release?” She then bounds into the centre of the room and scorches herself into cinematic history with an impromptu, expressive dance routine electrifyingly choreographed by Eugene Loring.
Hepburn’s approach to fashion reflected her Funny Face character’s views about dance; it, too, was an expression and a release. And, fittingly, Hepburn’s style in turn relied on dance for inspiration. By popularising the cigarette pants and ballet flats she had simply felt comfortable in all her life, she influenced generations of women and made an indelible mark on the fashion world.
Hepburn started her career as a dancer, training in London with Marie Rambert after World War II. She went on, of course, to find fame as an actress and a humanitarian, but she retained a dancer’s poise, posture and grace her whole life.
While her collaboration with Hubert de Givenchy is legendary – in Hepburn, he found a muse for his cinched waists and full skirts – she is also remembered for the black Capri pants and Salvatore Ferragamo ballet flats made famous in Funny Face. These emphasised her dancer’s physique, and sent women the world over into a terpsichorean-style frenzy they still haven’t recovered from. (Just witness the enduring popularity of ballet flats.)
With her vivid style and incomparable elegance, Audrey Hepburn truly is the patron style saint of ballerinas.