Style in Film: Audrey Hepburn in ‘How to Steal a Million’

A few actresses had as much influence on the fashion of the fifties and sixties as Audrey Hepburn. And it’s felt today that the items she popularised are still considered essential to every woman’s wardrobe. Because true style has no age. Richard Avedon was one of the people who advised her to emphasize and not hide her distinctive traits like her body, a new, modern model of femininity opposed to the shapely sexiness in vogue at Hollywood at the time, her eye-makeup created by the Italian Alberto De Rossi, thick eyebrows and her natural brown hair, cut short.

In How to Steal a Million, as Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of a master art forger, she plays alongside Peter O’Toole, whom she thinks a society burglar, but is in fact a detective specialised in art fraud. It is a delightful lighthearted comedy, with a handsome couple in the leading roles, beautiful decors and clothes, of course. Audrey’s wardrobe was designed by Hubert de Givenchy, her lifelong friend and the French designer who invented minimal fashion – a very clean, essential but sophisticated form of high fashion: these words perfectly describe her clothes in the film. “Givenchy dresses are so beautiful and simple, I felt wonderful in them.”

The iconic helmet hat she wears in her first scene with Oliver Goldsmith white sunglasses and a cream skirt suit, one of the several streamlined day suits she wears throughout the film. Audrey sported her new short hair-do in How to Steal a Million. The man who created it was the famous Alexandre of Paris, and he named this style “Coupe Infante ’66”.

What a divine pink coat! I could easily name a few designers who were inspired by this cut over the last seasons. All the coats Audrey is wearing in the film are exquisite. I would wear each and every one today and not a single one of them would look not even slightly out-dated.

A beautiful wool skirt suit. All the jackets and coats are 3/4 sleeved and the gloves are a must.

These gorgeous drop earrings are my favourite piece of jewellery, all by Cartier in the film.

The small heels were another Audrey trademark. She didn’t need high heels to be attractive, as Ralph Lauren commented in 1990: “There are two or three people who the public will never forget for their charm and elegance. Audrey Hepburn is number one.”

Black chantilly lace dress and jacket, black lace eye mask and that dramatic silver glitter eye shadow (the make-up was once again the creation of Alberto De Rossi).

The military style coat, in beautiful navy hue, could not be overlooked as part of such a timeless wardrobe. This one and Yves Saint Laurent’s coat worn by Catherine Deneuve in ‘Belle de Jour’ are two of the all-time most beautiful military inspired coats. Again the oversized white sunglasses: one of the many styles Audrey is synonymous with, and three ways of wearing her scarf.

Those fabulous sculpted front pockets! And a beautiful orange strap Cartier watch. I usually go for men’s style watches, but I like how feminine and delicate this one is.

The hats: another department her wardrobe excels in. Above she’s wearing a pillbox hat with a white-lapel nautical navy (again) suit and black accessories (the double chain strap bag is the one I love the most in the film). Below: another beautiful belted checkered coat.

“She had a natural grace, an innate elegance, a dazzling splendor.” Cecil Beaton
Audrey had a unique sense of chic that will never be beaten, and her wardrobe in How to Steal a Million is a reflection of the perfect synergy between Givenchy’s elegant lines and her impeccable taste: it felt like they both designed the clothes.

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images: screen stills from the film, captured by me; kindly link back to classiq if you would like to use any of these images; production credits
source: A Matter of Style: Intimate Portraits of 10 Women Who Changed Fashion

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