Howard Greer, Designing Male
“[London between the Wars] was lax and casual and hard and bright . . . the clubs and bars were thronged with Bright Young People, and oh, how bored they all were! Bored with living, bored with loving, bored with their hang-overs, and bored, more than anything else, with boredom itself.”
Howard Greer, Designing Male
Read about the London's Bright Young Things era as it unfolded via Cecil Beaton's Diaries, The Wandering Years, 1922-39.
The world today lost one of the last surviving legends of 20th Century fashion. But our loss is Audrey Hepburn's gain. Long settled into the hereafter, she is finally on cloud nine, happily reunited with her favorite fashion designer and dear friend.
The New York Times obituary, "Hubert de Givenchy, Master of Romantic Elegance, Dies at 91," debunks a common misconception. French fashion and Hollywood were connected long before Awards Season became a thing.
The fledgling starlet Audrey Hepburn was convinced the simple, elegant designs of Givenchy would suit her character in Sabrina. She reached out, but Roman Holiday had not yet been released, and the up-and-coming designer confused her with the better-known Katharine Hepburn. Upon discovering his mistake, he refused her request, and only a charm offensive by Audrey brought him around. As the Times notes, it only took one dinner for Givenchy to be smitten, and they began a lifelong collaboration. See: When Audrey Met Hubert.
A decade later, Coco Chanel had similar confusion as to the Hepburn who would be portraying her on Broadway. See: Question: "Audrey, Oui?" Answer: "Non, Katharine."
Givenchy created Hepburn's much-praised costumes for Sabrina. Edith Head dressed the remainder of the cast. When his designs won Edith Head an Academy Award, she happily took full credit. One does not receive a record-breaking eight Academy Awards without occasionally stepping on a few toes.
It was not the first such incident for Head. When she first applied at Paramount, she admitted to the studio's costume chief, Howard Greer, that she presented fraudulent examples of her work. He hired her anyway, and, notwithstanding this dishonorable beginning, how fortunate we all are that he did. See Designing Male, A Nebraska Farm Boy's Adventures in Hollywood and with the International Set.
The young Hubert de Givenchy got his start in fashion working for Elsa Schiaparelli after World War II. Her heyday was a decade in the past. She had lost that special alchemy that made her the sensation of the 1930s, and her fashion house suffered. Once, the young Hubert "was taken aback to find a little girl's dress that used snakes as its embroidery motif," which were then discreetly removed without Schiaparelli's knowledge. That does not mean Schiap was unaware of his talent. When he departed to start his own house in 1951, she noted sardonically, "You will bankrupt me."
Image Credit: The Givenchy Style
Tsuguharu Foujita was a Japanese-French artist. He achieved renown by applying Japanese ink techniques to Western art. He was the printmaker behind the illustrations for Michael Joseph's 1930 work A Book of Cats (a copy of which fetched $77,500 at a 2014 Bonhams Los Angeles sale).
Foujita's distinctive look bore a resemblance to another noted 20th Century personality employed in the arts? Name this person.
HINT: She gave good costume.
The answer is after the JUMP.