To sort of uniform for all women of taste’,

To answer how fashion has been impacted by haute couture, creativity and craftsmanship, I have chosen Audrey Hepburn wearing the Givenchy dress from the film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ which premiered in 1961 (Erwin and Diamond, 2006).  Many other designers from the 1960’s produced designs that were much more diverse than ever before, breaking the conventional rules of fashion. As these overstated pieces such as neon colours, PVC dresses, and Go-go boots went out of fashion, the little black dress still remains the number one “must have” piece of clothing for any smart woman’s wardrobe. Givenchy being one of the main trendsetters for the little black dress, still has the same ideals of elegance, simplicity, and line, which are still a dominant fashion rule over fifty years later (Erwin and Diamond, 2006).  Other influential designers took an important part in introducing the statement garment. Evidence shows that women have always worn black attire throughout the Victorian and Georgian eras, as throughout these periods of fashion it was common to be mourning for up to four years, with the constant wearing of black. For example, Queen  Victoria wore black continuously after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. This fashion trend also influenced the general public at the time to wear more black and dark coloured garments (Ricci, 1999).
The photograph of Audrey Hepburn was taken on the set of the well-known film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ in 1960. The photographer of this image is unknown, but most likely taken by one of the  crew members on set at the time. The outfit was designed to visually define the character as an elegant, strong-minded woman, but also to undeniably link the character to Audrey Hepburn. The film being set in New York during World War II expresses a time of uncertainty, although the character of Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) expresses stability and control for her opening character, as she makes a living as an associate to various wealthy and important men, who lavish her with money and expensive gifts (Ricci, 1999). Accompanying these characteristics with the outfit worn suggests power, mystery, and sophistication which are attributes associated with the colour black. This photograph is also an interesting discussion point to who the original designer of the “the definitive LBD” really was. The statement piece is generally known to be originally created by Givenchy for the purpose of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, but research proves that the first design for the garment was created much earlier in 1926, when Vogue published a drawing of a simple black dress in crêpe de Chine. It had long narrow sleeves and  was accessorised with a string of pearls. The publication labelled it ‘Chanel’s Ford’, in other words it was simple and accessible to women of all classes and styles (Ricci, 1999). Vogue also said it would become ‘a sort of uniform for all women of taste’, which is a prediction true to women’s fashion still today. As Coco Chanel released the dress in the perfect timing of the  Great Depression era where simple and affordable was top on the agenda for fashion. As well as later on,  during the second World War the simple black dress continued to be worn through the rationing of clothing, as you could appear graceful and elegant without breaking the bank  (De La Hoz, n.d.). Not long after the War Christian Dior, a truly inspirational designer that cemented the little black dress into the fashion world for good. She introduced a modernised version of the dress, including full skirts, and pinched waists. It was  not long till Hollywood celebrities were embracing the trend on and off screen. But due to its cinematic history, the most notorious little black dress will always be the Givenchy dress from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ 1961, which was then auctioned in 2006 and sold for £467k (De La Hoz, n.d.).
The famous garment consists of black Italian satin sheath fabric, in an evening gown. Christie describes it as a sleeveless, floor-length gown with a fitted bodice embellished at the back with distinctive cut-out décolleté, the skirt explained as partially gathered at the waist and a slit to the thigh on one side, although this version of the dress was to be used for advertisement publications only. The dress accompanies a label on the inside of the waistband displaying the word ‘Givenchy’; the dress also being accompanied by a pair of black elbow-length gloves (Beyfus, n.d.). The use of craftsmanships and creativity are interesting points within the execution of the iconic dress. As originally the dress included a slit up the thigh as explained by Christie. But were deemed unsuitable for the character of Holly Golightly, the style of the skirt was then redesigned by Edith Head to a no-slit, full rounded skirt (Hepburn and Peppard, 2008).  The bodice is slightly open at the back with a neckline that leaves the shoulders uncovered. In the film, Audrey Hepburn wears a matching pair of elbow-length gloves in the same shade of black as the dress along with a string of pearls. The look for the character of Holly Golightly has been described as “ultra-feminine” and “Parisian”. Her necklace was made by Roger Scemama, who was a French parurier who designed jewellery for Givenchy. Couture dresses normally consist of extravagant lace or embellished fabric, being created specifically for upper class clients normally displaying unique, in-ordinary pieces of clothing (Hepburn and Peppard, 2008). For example, referencing a historical couture dress explains that dresses were made so wide it was necessary for the wearer to go sideways through doors, but had the advantage of displaying a large area of lavish decoration, to present themselves as wealthy at social events (Fogg and Steele, 2013). On the other hand, Audrey Hepburn portrays a couture style dress that is understated, simple, and flattering with a simple silhouette, with just a single use of colour. The use of satin compliments the silver jewellery,  as the contrast of a simplistic evening gown and a lustrous necklace matched with head attire favour one another. Although the garment is  fitted around the waist it flows well around the skirt area, promoting a comfortable fit. As for the movement of the dress it appears the skirt needs to be lifted to walk swiftly, this may be due to the dress’ excessive length. Comparing the dress to the versions of today, modern versions vary in, shades of black, short and long sleeves, length and the list continues as the creativity of fashion for the little black dress  has and will continue to develop as the fashion world evolves (Heatley, n.d.).
Considering how the image used answers the main question, shows how haute couture influences fashion trends. Audrey Hepburn’s stage attire was influenced beyond the cinema audience as the accessories proved popular with celebrities too, with her outsize sunglasses which the First Lady of the United States at the time, Jacqueline Kennedy admired along with the Givenchy signature boat neckline and body-skimming silhouette (Fogg and Steele, 2013). It also signifies a time of originality and creativity. In the era of a Hollywood ideal being favoured towards hourglass figures such as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel, as many dresses on screen drew a lot of attention to the chest area including embellishment with scalloped edges, and strapless, halter-neck of off-the-shoulder designs (Berry, 2000). An interesting factor was that Marilyn Monroe was first asked to play the role of Holly Golightly but dropped out as she was warned the character could damage her image (Fogg and Steele, 2013). Reviewing Audrey Hepburn as the main character also represents the body shape of effortlessness and elegance. It corresponds the style of dress with the body shape, simplistic and timeless. Comparing an evening dress to those from the eighteenth century, which typically entail a deep ‘V’-shape waistline, which adds large amounts of volume to the back of the dress, along with tightly fitted corsets. Embroided silk was very notorious for historical fashion of the eighteenth century, especially for evening gowns (Martin and Koda, 1995). On the other hand, the simple pleats around the waist of the statement Givenchy dress, add just a feather of volume from the waist as the dress then continues in a straight cut finish. It reflects how fashion had adapted for the rich and famous, although the jewellery of the character is overstated, the little black dress is quite the opposite of any garment from the 18th century couture. This basis also leads on to how Audrey was ultimately the personified force and furthermore the source of inspiration for Hubert de Givenchy who designed the sleek lined dress (Beyfus, n.d.). The two met when Audrey paid a visit to the up-and-coming designer’s Parisian studio of Givenchy’s in 1954, as she searched for a costume to wear for her upcoming role in Sabrina (1954). Hepburn found exactly what she was looking for and consequently had it added to all future contracts that her costumes could only be designed by Givenchy. She expressed to reporters in 1956, that his clothes are the only garments she truly feels herself in (De La Hoz, 2016). Givenchy therefore used their friendship resourcefully, as Audrey wore Givenchy’s new designs she was labelled the taste-maker and style icon of her time through photography and film (Belloc, 1967).
In conclusion, cinematic history, haute couture and actresses can all influence a celebrities and the general publics wardrobe collection. Haute couture is inevitably the apotheosis of fashion, it materialised in Paris in 1858 by British-born dressmaker Charles Frederick Worth (1858-95), (Fogg and Steele, 2013). Paris was known as the leader of fashion and haute couture until World War II when the introduction of German troops threatened their front rank. A haute couture designer who may have inspired the craftsmanship of Hubert de Givenchy is Balmain. As in the 1950’s he designed simple, elegant clothes, specialising in slimline dresses and jacket combinations, along with draped and pleated evening wear. Which match some of the aspects of the character of Holly Golightly’s dress,with acute pleating around the waist and simple A-line dress (Martin and Koda, 1996). Film, photography and advertisement played an interesting role of displaying haute couture. Not only were celebrities wearing designer clothing but everyday housewives too. Women of the 1950’s were displayed as decorative roles, as their husbands were hard at work they were perceived as living in happy contentment: they cooked and cleaned wearing their couture dresses with perfect make-up and not a hair out of place (Fogg and Steele, 2013). The creativity of advertisements for make-up (cosmetic firm Revlon’s ‘Fire and Ice’ campaign from 1952) kept the look of a clean-cut notion housewife thriving. In closing, creativity in fashion has always been a major influence especially throughout the maniacal ages of the 1960’s. Although contrasts of the time such as the Givenchy little black dress with its intelligible characteristics shows how haute couture can still be influential over fifty years later.