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Monday, December 12, 2016, 16:58

To Audrey with love: A designer's tribute

By Agence France-Presse

Couturier Givenchy exhibits 100 outfits he made for actress Audrey Hepburn

To Audrey with love: A designer's tribute
A woman preparing the exhibition To Audrey With Love showcasing a retrospective of the work of designer Hubert de Givenchy. (Photo/Agencies)

One of the fashion world's greatest platonic love stories almost never came to pass, when in the 1950s French couturier Hubert de Givenchy at first refused a request to design for Audrey Hepburn.

"When Audrey came to me and asked me to make her dresses for the film Sabrina, I didn't know who she was. I was expecting Katharine Hepburn," Givenchy says in an emotional news conference for the opening of a new exhibition of his creations in The Netherlands.

"She arrived looking so vulnerable, so graceful, so young and sparkling" dressed like "a young girl today" in cotton trousers, ballerina flats and T-shirt which showed off her bellybutton, carrying a straw gondolier's hat, the designer recalls.

"But I wasn't really in any condition to make a major wardrobe for Sabrina and I told her, 'No, Mademoiselle, I can't dress you.'"

Luckily for fashionistas everywhere, Hepburn was not to be dissuaded and sweetly invited Givenchy to dinner. By the end of that meal in 1953, the aristocratic French designer had fallen under the spell of the petite actress. So began a creative friendship which lasted down the decades until the British film star died of cancer in 1993.

"She persuaded me, how lucky I was to have accepted," Givenchy says.

Creator of personality

The retrospective of Givenchy's designs for his friend and style icon entitled To Audrey with Love has just opened at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, and lasts until late March.

It is the designer's homage to his muse and Givenchy has personally selected many of the 100 outfits featured in the collection, a few of which have never been seen in public before, in what he calls a "journey through her wardrobe".

In the 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina, Hepburn appeared alongside then screen heartthrob Humphrey Bogart, and in one key screen wore a sophisticated, floating ivory ball dress edged in black with embroidered black flowers - a Givenchy creation.

To Audrey with love: A designer's tribute
Hubert de Givenchy posing at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. (Photo/Agencies)

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