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Vicenta Maria Puerta Zaballos130598655COM2080 Celebrity Culture

Audrey Hepburn: a Legend

Submission date:25th of November 13Word Count:1503 wordsI declare that this assignment is my own work and that I have correctly acknowledged the work of others. This assignment is in accordance with University and School guidance on good academic conduct (and how to avoid plagiarism and other assessment irregularities). University guidance is available at

Audrey Hepburn: a Legend

I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing. These are the words of a woman that nowadays is a society icon; Im talking about Audrey Hepburn.

She was born on 4 May 1929 in Brussels (Belgium). She lived her early years in Holland, but after her parents' divorce in 1938 she moved to London. She studied one of her great passions, Dance and Drama in the Marie Rambert School. With the outbreak of World War II, just as she began to excel in ballet, she had to return to Holland but with the end of the conflict she returned to United Kingdom where she began working as a model and soon after as a theatre actress.

In 1953, the film Roman Holiday launched Audrey Hepburn into stardom. She portrayed a princess on an official tour in Italy that run away from protocol and lives an affair with a journalist, played by Gregory Peck. The most unforgettable outfit that marked trend is the princess who choose to break the city incognito, and accurately reflect the tastes of young debutante: white shirt, sandals, a wide skirt with a thick belt set and a small neckerchief. From overnight, without intending it, she was beginning to make fashion trends. The 25th march 1954 she won the Oscar of Best Actress of this movie.

With the huge success of Roman Holiday, Paramount again asked Audrey to make a second film and hired her to star in "Sabrina". Directed by Billy Wilder, with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. Audrey reinforced her star status and became friends with a young French designer called Hubert de Givenchy. Nevertheless, it was not until aged 31 when she shot what would be her most iconic character: Holly Golightly, star of Breakfast at Tiffany's, based on the book written by Truman Capote. That character immortalized her as an icon of elegance.

In an era where women with curves and explosive aspect were valued, a young frail and extremely thin woman, with high neck and big eyes, managed to be the centre of attention in the cinema world and managed to revolutionize canons of films and fashion from the 1950s. That girl was Audrey Hepburn. Her type of body created an impact, because it had never seen anything like that before. She was a little bit boyish but extremely feminine, she was gorgeous but not in an obvious way.

Audrey embodies elegance and personality through her body. According to Bourdieu (1986: 190) he says, that the body is the most indisputable materialization of class taste, which it manifest in several ways, even though she always tried to flee from labels and false awards, she marked a distinction. Audrey created an exclusive habitus thru her own style, body and charisma; she didnt try to force on being someone else, she was natural and herself. A (gendered) individuals habitus is shaped normally in childhood or by family, regarding her extremely thinness I must point out that Audrey Hepburn suffered untold hardships during World War II, during this period of time she endured malnutrition that nearly end with her life. That drama made her to have a skinny and frail appearance for the rest of her live.

Dyer (1979) points out that stars play characters, that is, constructed representations of persons, Audrey in Roman Holiday embodied a princess who become ordinary for a day: the Cinderella motif that marks Hepburn as a star (Moseley 2002). Because of her dancing training in Marie Rambert she had a touch of delicacy and poise that intensified her role, she played at the same time being an aristocratic princess and being a common woman in Roma Street. Audreys transparent image makes us to familiarise with her, which has been fundamental to her charisma. As Dyer says, authenticity is necessary to secure star status generally (Moseley 2002), Audrey has flaws and she knew it, they made her being real, which made other women to identify with her. "I'm not beautiful. My mother once called me an ugly duckling. But, listed separately, I have a few good features (Audrey Hepburn).Audrey femininity broke rules because she was modern. In one hand, she imposed a short hairstyle that all women wanted to imitate. In the other, Hepburns characteristic and common look was using headscarves, big sunglasses, capri pants, white shirts and her indistinguishable ballerinas. Rarely was to see her with some eye-catching jewellery, she was natural and preferred pearls. Audrey was Hubert Givenchy designer muse, he was responsible for creating the Audrey Hepburn style, the most recognizable style was the back cocktail dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffanys or the impressive white strapless dress that she used in Sabrina (he was unaccredited), both of them symbol of elegance. We can also emphasise the coats and hats that Audrey dressed in Charade or the black lace dress- sublime with the mask of the same tissue- which wore in How to steel a million. (Moseley 2002)

Gledhill (1991) mentions that many stars repeated genres throughout their careers, there are cases where the celebrity is associated with a particular role that define them for the rest of their lives, but in my opinion Audrey Hepburn breaks this topic because we can see her like a shy girl in Roman Holiday, seductively in Breakfast at Tifannys, elegant in Sabrina and without forgetting her character in Nuns Story one of her most dramatic, daring and charismatic characters, it is undoubtedly one of the best films of Audrey. Notwithstanding, many people only see Audrey as a fashion icon for her performance as Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Films in Reviewstated that her performance "will forever silence those who have thought her less an actress than a symbol of the sophisticated child/woman. Her portrayal of Sister Luke is one of the great performances of the screen since she had the opportunity to play a role without an exquisite costume designer, without makeup and with nothing to distract the public from its credibility as an actress.

According to Gerrie Lim (2005) in the artificial and image-conscious world of advertising through fashion, cosmetics, and the body there exists the ultimate embodiment of celebrity branding. Originally, Hubert de Givenchy created the perfume LInterdit, just for her; she was the lucky one who had the privilege to enjoy the perfume created by the designer. It is known the deep friendship that united both of them. It was in 1957 when Hubert de Givenchy decided to market the fragrance and then received by a terse reply Audrey: Mais c'est interdit! (It is forbidden). Finally, the fragrance went on sale to the public and took its name from the phrase pronounced by the actress, who finally accepted other women could also enjoy her perfume. Who wouldnt like to smell like her? It is a perfect way to feel like Audrey Hepburn.

They say that the important thing about fame is not reaching it, but staying famous. Many artists achieve stardom and public recognition, but just a few manage to remain in the collective memory, even after their death.

As John Gray (2004) says the cult of a celebrity is essential for the economy capitalism in a economy driven by the need to manufacture demand, fame sells everything else and after Audreys death and twenty years later there still have been an over commercialisation in marketing and merchandising stores, where her face is in bags, paintings, cigarrete cases and in all kinds of objects. The famous picture came from a few posed shots taken by photographer Howell Conant during the production of Breakfast at Tifannys (Paul McDonald 2013). As I said, her personal brand had much to do with the look of Breakfast at Tiffany's, which has generated thousands of photographs and images that still live by that haircut, her style, her smoking and her eyes. Moreover, her famous black cocktail dress from Givenchy was auctioned in 2006 for 700,000, amount that fate entirely to the founding of the actress.

We can also see how many famous celebrities (like Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway or Penelope Cruz) have tried to imitate her style generation after generation. Audrey is an icon that goes far away from fashion and cinema.

In conclusion, after all these years she is still present and remembered. Audrey Hepburn may be dead but the value of her posthumous star lives on (Paul McDonald). She has been digitally resurrected 20 years after her death to advertise chocolates. Galaxy British brand in particular. In the spot we can see a Hepburn in the 1950s getting off a bus tour, in the Amalfi coast, to sit in the car. And incidentally, she takes advantage of it to catch a piece of chocolate. She also appeared in a Gap commercial in 2006, using clips of her dancing in the film Funny Face, set to AC/DCs Back in Black, with the slogan Its time to come back- the skinny black pants.


Moseley, Rachel (2002). Growing up with Audrey Hepburn. Manchester University Press

McDonald, Paul (2013). Hollywood Stardom. Wiley-Blackwell. A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication

Gledhill, Christine (1991). Stardom Industry of Desire. London and New York: Routledge.

Bordieu, P. (1986) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.

Dyer, Richard. (1979) Stars. BFI Publishing, British Film