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The Influencers: Audrey, the Twiggy miniskirt and a women's tuxedo

28 May 2021
Audrey Hepburn In Publicity Photo
Audrey Hepburn first joined forces with designer Hubert de Givenchy in the film Sabrina. PHOTO; Getty

From the start of haute couture to the disaster of double denim, we take a look at fashion through the decades and the stars with influence. Part 1 covers 1920 - 1960s. What to check out the rest? Check out Style's digital edition out now.


Haute couture was born, bursting forth from the confines of the corset. Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971), a then unconventional designer in life and in garments, freed the waist and the bosom. It reportedly caused a bit of a ruckus with some miserly male fashion journalists, “No more bosom, no more stomach, no more rump.” Her garments made of jersey allowed for movement and she is synonymous with the ‘Little Black Dress’ and the Chanel suit collarless jacket.

Chanel’s reported arch-rival Elsa Schiaparelli also created a storm with her maverick designs. Schiaparelli worked closely with surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and was known for the ‘Schiaparelli Shocking Pink’; divided skirt (culottes); jumpsuits and a hat in the shape of an upturned shoe. What else would you expect from a mischievous girl who once opened a jar of fleas under her parents’ dinner table because she wasn’t invited?

Coco Chanel, French Couturier. Paris, 1936. Colour

Coco Chanel in 1936. PHOTO: GETTY

Steichen Vogue 1926

Chanel freed women from the confines of the corset. Model wears a sleeveless black chiffon dress with large chiffon flowers on the right back shoulder. Photo by Edward Steichen/Conde Nast via Getty Images

Vogue 1940

Designer Elsa Schiaparelli wearing a black silk dress with a crocheted collar of her own design and a turban. PHOTO: GETTY


Vogue 1935

Schiaparelli designs were considered to be "maverick". Illustration by Pierre Mourgue/Condé Nast via Getty Images.


Vogue 1936

Schiaparelli was influenced and good friends with surrealist artists like Salvador Dali. Models wear wool suits with Salvador Dali-inspired bureau drawer-like pockets by Schiaparelli. Photo by Cecil Beaton/Condé Nast via Getty Images.


The New Look By Dior

Dior's New Look saw cinched in waists return - but some were not amused. Rose chiffon gathered bodice and black tulip-pleat skirt, with pillbox and wrap jacket, by Dior, with a Louis XIV pin. PHOTO: GETTY

Dior In France In The 1950s

Dior and his New Look models. PHOTO: GETTY

1950 - 1960s

“Dior doesn’t dress women, he upholsters them!” Chanel was not amused by Christian Dior’s New Look of the 1940s – nor were feminists. It was back to the cinched-in waists, alongside padded hips and tight-fitting jackets.

The 1950s saw the pairing of the first ‘influencers’ before there was such a word. Hubert de Givenchy reportedly first turned down movie star Audrey Hepburn’s initial request to dress her for the movie Sabrina (1954), but she persisted by inviting him out to dinner. And so it was born, a platonic love affair between muse and creator. Givenchy is responsible for some of Hepburn’s most iconic looks, from the elegant black dress of the worldly but innocent Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) to Hepburn’s own wedding gown.

The world was transfixed by the young Jacqueline Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and trends like the Twiggy miniskirt and Yves Saint Laurent women’s tuxedo.

Audrey Hepburn And William Holden In Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn and William Holden starred in Sabrina. Hepburn approached Givenchy to be the designer for the costumes in the film but had a bit of task convincing him.

Audrey Hepburn With Hubert De Givenchy

Audrey Hepburn and French designer Hubert de Givenchy continued to work together for many years after the film Sabrina. Photo by Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images


Breakfast At Tiffany's

The iconic shot from the Breakfast at Tiffany's movie with Audrey Hepburn (1961). Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


Elizabeth Taylor At The Premiere Of ''lawrence Of Arabia'' In Paris

The 1950s was the 'Golden Age' of cinema with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. PHOTO: GETTY


Photo Of Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley sent his fans into a frenzy and became a cultural icon. Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)


Jacqueline Kennedy

Former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy became a style icon. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)



The miniskirt was made famous by model Twiggy. Photo by Kent Gavin/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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