Handyside, Fiona. "`Paris isn't for Changing`Planes; it's for Changing your Outlook': Audrey Hepburn as European Star in 1950s France." French Cultural Studies 14.3: 288
Fiona Handyside’s article follows the path of Audrey Hepburn’s career that resulted in her image as the quintessential “European star” to the American audience. In the 1950s, she was the antithesis of “busy contemporaries” such as Marilyn Monroe, with her generically “European” accent, slender frame, and air of confidence. This became the ultimate portrayal of a European woman as Americans wanted to believe it. Hepburn’s image as such was the product of two different forces: Hollywood studios, and European couture houses, namely that of Givenchy. Beginning with Sabrina, Givenchy and Hepburn formed a life-long partnership, and his clothing was present in many situations throughout her life. This made promotion for Sabrina and other films seamless, as the ties between designer and muse stretched across cinema, journalism, and advertising. Hepburn wore Givenchy in her 1954 wedding to Mel Ferrer, enabling further personification of her own “star style.”
The focus of Sabrina is the transformation of a young girl via Paris and Givenchy designs, culminating in a happy marriage. The progression of this plot uses not only narrative, but also the visual imagery of wardrobe to convince the viewer. In the famed scene at the train station, Hepburn’s Givenchy-designed gray suit owns the screen, as the unrecognized sophisticate stops William Holden’s character dead in his tracks. The clothing is placed above the narrative at this point, defining a character in a way that words could not. Sabrina was the beginning the association between Hepburn, Paris, and Givenchy: the city itself is the symbol of style, transformation, and the revelation of a new kind of femininity.
Moseley, Rachel. "She's Everybody's Dream Girl." The Observer online edition. March 7, 2004
Moseley, who is somewhat of a scholar on Hepburn and her effect on popular culture, discusses the actress’ resonance with “ordinary women,” an obsession that began in the 1950s and continues strongly to this day. The way that films can influence all aspects of one’s life is evident with the female response to Hepburn, particularly the interviews Moseley quotes with such ordinary women. Hepburn is described as being “modern because she was different, but still obtainable.” In the post-war period, she represented a historically specific time period: she was feminine liberation and modernity, all while remaining lady-like and suitable to the more containing “standards” of the day. Hepburn’s appearance in films was simply more possible than many other stars of the period. Even Givenchy’s designs, beginning with Sabrina, were deceitfully simple.
Though Moseley admits that Hepburn has never been historically associated with women’s liberation movements, her trademark style was marked with low-maintenance flair such as flat shoes and short haircuts, which appealed strongly to busy women in the mid 20th-century. Even qualities that would seem to inspire a backlash among women, such as her extraordinarily thin frame, were just seen as “part” of her, rather than something to be directly imitated. The goal was simply the recreation of elegance, which Hepburn exuded effortlessly throughout her career.
Beginning with Sabrina, Givenchy and other designers began to use films as showcases for their designs. Hepburn wore Givenchy in a number of other films throughout her career, and the designer’s signature styles, many of which he created specifically for the actress, are evident in each. He had crossed the threshold of costumes as narrative, and they now could be as much a part of the film as the actors. Funny Face, a Givenchy/Hepburn collaboration of the late 1950s, was the most obvious display of this, as Hepburn’s bookshop clerk-turned-model spends much of the film walking down the runway wearing Givenchy’s designs, which command nearly every scene they are featured in. In Sabrina, this is the case not only for the luxurious white-and-black gown Sabrina wears in the ballroom scene: when William Holden’s character suffers a case of mistaken identity at the Glen Cove train station, the viewer is transfixed by the Givenchy-designed “Parisian suit” the new Sabrina wears. Bruzzi mentions the notions of the “iconic” and the “spectacular,” which often coincide in couture-costumed films. These costumes must have an independent and prior meaning, and such as the case of Sabrina’s gown, the clothing has a stronger impact on the actor than vice versa.
Collins' Vanity Fair article is essentially a retrospective of the storied relationship between Audrey Hepburn and the French designer Hubert de Givenchy, as inspired by the 1995 remake of Sabrina and the designer's announcement of his retirement. Beginning with the 1954 film Sabrina, Hepburn and Givenchy maintained a friendship and fashion partnership that would last until the actress' death in 1993. During production of the film, director Billy Wilder and star Hepburn decided that it would be most appropriate for Sabrina's clothing to be the product of a legitimate Paris designer, as the formerly dowdy character returns to Long Island after spending time at cooking school in that city. The up-and-coming designer Hubert de Givenchy was chosen, and Hepburn approached him to arrange fittings. After a case of mistaken identity (he believed that Katherine Hepburn would be wearing his clothing), Givenchy let the production borrow three pieces: a gray suit, a luxurious black and white ball gown, and a tasteful, boat-necked black cocktail dress.
It was arguably the fashion in Sabrina that made the film so wildly successful and influential; Hepburn was transformed into a different woman in Givenchy's clothing. Though Collins does not explore the relationship between film and fashion in much depth, her article is a good introduction to the power of the relationship between designer and muse, with an especially strong focus on Sabrina. Quoting many of the parties involved in the film, there is the sense that they were rendered awestruck by this relationship between Givenchy and Hepburn. The public agreed, as Givenchy's designs and Hepburn's image became inextricably attached for decades, and both Collins and the designer himself make note of how Hepburn's style has retained fans and audience even moreso than her movies in many cases.