I loved this dress the moment I saw it in 1954’s “Sabrina.”
It’s designed by Hubert de Givenchy, who I mentioned in earlier posts would form a lifelong fashion partnership with Audrey. They met when Billy Wilder, director of “Sabrina,” suggested that Audrey fly to Paris for some clothes that Sabrina would wear after her transformation. Audrey did so and made an appointment with Givenchy, who had established his business in 1952 with clothes featuring modern lines.
He later noted that when the time came to meet Hepburn, he actually thought he was doing so with Katharine Hepburn. He really didn’t have an idea who Audrey was, but from that first meeting they forged a partnership that created Audrey’s distinctive look.
Givenchy was uncredited in “Sabrina,” with famed designer Edith Head winning an Oscar for her work on the film. But Givenchy created some of Audrey’s most memorable clothes in the film – the traveling suit that Sabrina wears when she returns to the U.S., the black dress with what would become known as the “Sabrina neckline,” and this stunner of a gown.
But it’s more than just a dress. Wilder wisely uses the dress as Sabrina’s entry into the upper class. Up until then, she’s only watched the society gatherings of her father’s employer from a distance. That dress gets her noticed, and once she’s invited by William Holden onto the patio for a dance, she glides into place. She’s now the stunner, not just the dress.
I read recently that Hepburn was never overwhelmed by Givenchy’s fashions, and that is so true. This dress could be overwhelming, but she wears it with grace and beauty.