Ready To Wear: Doe-eyed and docile – the importance of not being Audrey

 

Does anyone actually want to look like Audrey Hepburn these days," I asked a colleague last week as yet another soon-to-be-published volume extolling the virtues of the actor's style – So Audrey: 59 Ways to Put a Little Hepburn in Your Step – landed on the fashion desk.

"Nope," she answered, while I couldn't help thinking that even the title of the book is irritating. "I want to look like Eleanor of Aquitaine. I want a wimple. And power over England. And France. You may kiss my ring."

The celebrated medieval consort in question is an obscure role model, admittedly, but she is impressively old-school at the very least.

Whatever. Poor Audrey. After years as the unfailing symbol of chic par excellence, her iconic status is now under scrutiny. Holly Golightly, go do one – or words to that effect.

Here's Miuccia Prada on the subject in the new Vogue. "I like Audrey Hepburn," the designer says, which is nice of her, "but intellectually, I refuse to go back to that. I'm interested in chic that comes from different ways of dressing. Classic chic I know. And I struggle all the time, because if I didn't, I would turn into classic chic. That's easy."

Easy if you happen to be Miuccia Prada, perhaps, but La Hepburn's allure relies precisely on the fact that, for the rest of us, being in possession of impeccably good taste is not always quite that simple. Nor is it any longer desirable. By today's standards, her determinedly doe-eyed demeanour appears uptight to the point of tiresome, delicate to the point of docile, pretty to the point of passive, not to mention bourgeois in a not remotely ironic way. In an age obsessed with status and power, her image is neither power-driven nor empowering. Discreet elegance is the message and it's lost in a fast-moving and remorselessly over-exposed world.

Above all, the time-honoured image of Hepburn – slender as a fashion illustration in little black Givenchy dress, cutely coquettish in wide-brimmed straw hat, or waif-like and winsome in skinny black pedal-pushers – is by now obvious in the extreme. And obvious, by ever more sartorially aware and attention-seeking standards, is rarely fashionable.

News
people
Sport
Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
champions leagueLive: All the latest from the Emirates and Bulgaria, where Liverpool face Ludogorets
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

    £25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

    Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

    £30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire