Back in 1954 Audrey Hepburn wrote history dressed in lace. Her Givenchy dress in 1954 is considered one of the most important celebrity red carpet moment of all time for good reason. Cute, immaculate, a sight for sore eyes, Audrey Hepburn’s 1954 dress made waves for different reasons.
“If Streisand established a tradition of Oscar eccentricity, Hepburn made a case for Oscar polish. Her dress’ lace bodice, full skirt and delicate belt were much less entertaining on TV than the actress wearing them. But, they also helped cement the Oscars as a marketing opportunity for designers” comments Smithsonian’s Alice Hines.
“According to Cosgrave, Hepburn first met the dress’ designer, Hubert de Givenchy, in 1953, when she showed up at his Paris salon to shop for costumes for Sabrina. The dress she wore the following year, when she won the Oscar for best actress in Roman Holiday, was a sneak peak of what people would see in Sabrina when it hit theaters a few months later.
Her outfit shared that same high “boat” neck and bare shoulders that Hepburn considered flattering. Once Sabrina came out, everyone wanted that iconic boat-neck dress, and Givenchy rebranded the style: “I named it ‘décolleté Sabrina,’” he told Vanity Fair years later. (Studio costume designer Edith Head, displeased at Givenchy’s involvement from the get-go, always claimed the Sabrina designs were hers.)”
Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
Their relationship lasted for a lifetime and had a substantial effect on the designer’s business. It remains the most iconic Oscar dress of all time.
“These days, dozens of cheaper versions of recent Oscar dresses are available online, including Lupita Nyong’o’s light-blue Prada, Charlize Theron’s white Dior, and Emma Stone’s bow-necked Giambattista Valli. Overall, though, even the originals are less avant-garde than they were in the ’90s. Perhaps it’s because we observe them so closely. Per Hollywood Reporter’s Merle Ginsberg, Oscar fashion criticism in the ’90s and ’00s, specifically that of Joan and Melissa Rivers, turned the red carpet ‘mass’” writes Hines.