It’s happened many times (but probably not as wide reaching in this case) when a film or television episode has a character that influences fashion choices for thousands of women for many years after the event. Example being: that black dress every girl has in her wardrobe.
Design, Givenchy and Audrey
The dress was designed by the French label Givenchy. Hubert de Givenchy considered Audrey Hepburn to be one of his closest friends, even once describing her as his little sister. It is an evening gown, with no sleeves, reaching all the way down to the ground. The bodice is fitted and the décolleté is cut out. The skirt gathers at the waist and is slit right up to the thigh on one side. At the back, the neckline is quite open, leaving the shoulders uncovered. The design of the dress was meant to be Parisian and ultra feminine and most people would agree that the dress fits this brief.
Whether Givenchy intended to create a fashion statement that still exists today or not is unclear, but the reality is that every woman now owns a little black dress. Naturally, you have to remember that Audrey Hepburn was an incredibly beautiful woman who would look great in a sack of potatoes and that she accessorised the dress just right. But, with a little black dress, any accessories are good.
Historic Price Tag
Givenchy still owns the original dress, which was stitched by hand. He had made two copies for Audrey Hepburn, the first being on display at the Museum of Film in Madrid. The second copy was auctioned at Christie’s for a hefty sum. In fact, not only was this the first little black dress, it was probably also the most expensive. One of the reasons why the price was so high was because it was also worn by Natalie Portman for a cover photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar.
The dress went to a private bidder for £467,200, around eight times more as what Christie’s had expected. The money was used charitably and allowed the building of a school in Calcutta. Ironically, the owner of the dress before the auction was Dominique Lapierre, a friend of Givenchy, who had received the dress as a gift. He was overwhelmed with the support received in the auction and immensely thankful for the fact that an item that was in essence but a piece of black cloth, was able to provide bricks and mortar for a school in Calcutta.