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Black Givenchy dress of Audrey Hepburn

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Black Givenchy dress of Audrey Hepburn
DesignerHubert de Givenchy
TypeSheath little black dress
MaterialItalian satin

Audrey Hepburn wore a "little black dress" in the 1961 romantic comedy film Breakfast at Tiffany's. The garment was originally designed by Hubert de Givenchy, with three existing copies preserved to date. A studio copy of this dress was worn during the opening scene of the film, while another during a social party held at the apartment of the main protagonist.

The dress has been described as one of the most iconic clothing items of the twentieth century.[1][2][3][4]


Audrey Hepburn was a close friend of French designer Givenchy, referring to the designer as her "best friend" while he considered her his "sister".[5][6]

Still from the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Hepburn wears the dress complemented by a Roger Scemama necklace

In 1961, Givenchy designed a little black dress for the opening scene of Blake Edwards' romantic comedy, Breakfast at Tiffany's, in which Hepburn starred alongside actor George Peppard. Her necklace was made by Roger Scemama, a French jeweler and parure-maker who designed jewelry for Givenchy.[7] Hepburn took two copies of the dress back to Paramount, but the dresses, which revealed a considerable amount of Hepburn's leg, were not suitable for the movie, and the lower half of the dress was redesigned by Edith Head.

  • The original hand—stitched dress is currently stored within the House of Givenchy's private collectors archive.
  • Another copy Hepburn took back to Paramount studios is now currently on display at the Museo del Traje in Madrid, Spain.
  • Another copy was auctioned at Christie's in December 2006, now owned by a private American collector.[8]

Accordingly, none of the actual dresses created by Givenchy were used in either the actual movie or the promotional press photography.[citation needed] The movie poster was designed by artist Robert McGinnis, and in Sam Wasson's book, Fifth Avenue, 5am, he explains that the photos on which he based the poster did not show any leg and that he had added the leg to make the poster more appealing.

The actual dresses used in the movie, created by Edith Head, its whereabouts today are still unknown, though were probably destroyed by Head and Hepburn at Western Costume in California after the film shooting.[citation needed]

In November 2006, actress Natalie Portman appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, wearing one of the original Givenchy dresses created for Breakfast at Tiffany's.[9] On 5 December 2006, this dress was auctioned at Christie's in London and purchased by an anonymous buyer by telephone. The sale price was estimated by the auction house to have ended somewhere between £50,000 and £70,000, but the final price was £467,200 ($923,187).[2][9] The money raised in the auction of the black dress went toward helping build a school for the poor people of Calcutta. Givenchy, the designer of the dress, had donated the dress to Dominique Lapierre, the author of the book City of Joy, and his wife to help raise funds for the charity. When they witnessed such a frenzied auction, the amount that was raised so astonished Lapierre that he observed:

"I am absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools."[2]

Sarah Hodgson, a film specialist at Christie's said, "This is one of the most famous black dresses in the world—an iconic piece of cinematic history—and we are glad it fetched a historic price."[2]


The model is a Givenchy black Italian satin sheath evening gown. Christie's describes it as "a sleeveless, floor-length gown with fitted bodice embellished at the back with distinctive cut-out décolleté, the skirt slightly gathered at the waist and slit to the thigh on one side, labelled inside on the waistband Givenchy; accompanied by a pair of black elbow-length gloves".[9] The bodice is slightly open at the back with a neckline that leaves uncovered shoulders. In the film, Audrey Hepburn wears a matching pair of elbow-length gloves the same colour and strings of pearls. The look has been described as "ultra-feminine" and "Parisian".[10]

The little black dress attained such iconic fame and status that it became an integral part of a woman's wardrobe. Givenchy not only chose the dress for the character in the film, but also added the right accessories to match the long gown in the form of a pearl choker of many strands, a foot long cigarette holder, a large black hat and opera gloves which not only "visually defined the character but indelibly linked Audrey with her".[11]

Given her physical assets, she, along with her designer friend Givenchy, created a dress to fit her role in the film of a waif. A well chosen black silk dress with appropriate accessories hit the bull's eye to bring her effervescent personality to the fore; the dark oversized sunglasses completed the ensemble of the little black dress (LBD) which was called "the definitive LBD". The dress, which outlined her lean shoulder blades, thus became the Hepburn style.[12]


The dress is cited as one of the most iconic of the 20th century and film history.[2] It has been described as "perhaps the most famous little black dress of all time" and exerting a major influence on fashion itself by directly making it popular.[4][13]

In a survey conducted in 2010 by LOVEFiLM, Hepburn's little black dress was chosen as the best dress ever worn by a woman in a film.[3] In this respect, Helen Cowley, publisher of LOVEFiLM, declared: "Audrey Hepburn has truly made that little black dress a fashion staple which has stood the test of time despite competition from some of the most stylish females around."[3] Hepburn's white dress and hat worn in My Fair Lady was voted sixth.

Hepburn's little black dress (LBD) has been copied and parodied numerous times in other works worldwide, such as Natalie Portman in a 2006 Harper’s Bazaar cover shoot and Lee Ji-eun in Hotel del Luna.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Most Famous Dresses Ever". Glamour.com. April 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Audrey Hepburn dress". Hello Magazine. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Audrey Hepburn's little black dress tops fashion list". The Independent. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b Steele, Valerie (9 November 2010). The Berg Companion to Fashion. Berg Publishers. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-84788-592-0. Retrieved 16 May 2011. ...perhaps the most famous of all little black dresses was Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  5. ^ "The Muse and the Master". Time. 17 April 1995. Archived from the original on 8 October 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  6. ^ "3 Messed up Things People Never Notice About 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'". 30 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Roger Scemama for Hubert de Givenchy". Vogue. 31 October 2014. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961".
  9. ^ a b c "Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961". Christie's. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  10. ^ Moseley, Rachel (2002). Growing up with Audrey Hepburn: text, audience, resonance. Manchester University Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7190-6311-4. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  11. ^ Ellen Erwin; Sean Hepburn Ferrer; Jessica Z. Diamond (3 October 2006). The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. Simon and Schuster. pp. 307–. ISBN 978-0-7432-8986-3. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  12. ^ "Cinemode: Breakfast at Tiffany's: The LBD that Dethroned Edith Head". On this day in fashion.com. 5 October 2010. Archived from the original on 17 December 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  13. ^ Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of hair: a cultural history. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-313-33145-9. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  14. ^ "IU Channels Audrey Hepburn While Shopping with Yeo Jin Goo in New Sneak Peek of "Hotel del Luna"".
  15. ^ "The Story behind Audrey Hepburn's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Dress". 27 November 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tony Nourmand and Audrey Hepburn, The Paramount Years London, Westbourne Press Ltd, 2006, pp. 94–127.
  • Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit – A Son Remembers, Sidgwick and Jackson, 2003, pp. 155–160.