Funny Face (1957)

Fred Astaire plays fashion photographer Dick Avery (a character based on Richard Avedon, the film’s “visual consultant”), who is sent out by his female boss Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to find a model who is a “new face”. It doesn’t take Dick long to discover Jo (Audrey Hepburn) working in a Greenwich Village bookstore. Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and transforms her into the fashion world’s hottest model. Along the way, Dick has to work overtime to wean her away from such pseudo-intellectuals as Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair).

For a film based on the fashion industry, it is hardly surprising that the costumes in Funny Face are so awe- inspiringly beautiful. With Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy designing the costumes for the effortlessly divine Audrey Hepburn to model, it would have been near impossible to create a poorly costumed film. Despite that, the costumes in Funny Face are absolutely stunning and epitomise the glamour and effortlessness of the New Look of the 1950’s.

One of the first “photoshoot” dresses, the Balloon Dress was a short sleeved black dress with a tight, fitted waist and and with a full skirt, emphasizing the tiny waist of its wearer. It was teamed with a pair of flat black pumps and black hat, as well as a pair of  white, wrist length gloves.

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A gorgeously colourful dress, highlighted by the delightful setting. This floral dress is cut with slight cap sleeves and a shallow ‘V’ cut back neckline. Paired perfectly with lemon yellow gloves and matching shoes. The whole ensemble is finished with a wide brimmed hat, cleverly linked into the dress by the flowers tucked into the hat band.

The ” Anna Karenina” suit worn by Audrey at the train station photoshoot, features a slim, fitted dress, covered by a matching Cocoon coat, both in a grey twill. Accessories include a pair of grey gloves, matching shoes, and a dark green hat. Finished up with a wicker bag and a must for every outfit, an adorable, tiny dog – Miss Hepburn’s own Mr Famous.

Despite holding a terrible unhelpful dove, Audrey looks typically delightful in the “Cinderella” dress. Styled as a mid calf length ball gown, tight at the waist and exaggerated at the hips. Made up in a soft off white, decorated in embroidered light pink roses. Sleeveless other than two bands which fall over each shoulder, tied at the back with a pair of bows.

Taken whilst Audrey was on the move, the ” Take the picture” dress is a scarlet, strapless dress with a fitted bodice and tight straight skirt. Featuring a  flying panel at the back, the dress is teamed with a matching chiffon stole, red shoes and white, over the elbow gloves, as well as a rather impressively sized necklace.

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The dreamy Opera attire, showcased here with all the drama it deserves, features a dark green clutch coat – with matching covered chignon – atop a full skirted white dress, clearly using all the petticoats in Paris. Accessorised with white pointed court shoes and white gloves.

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A beautiful dress which is sadly covered most of the time by a bizarre blue cloak.  A black and white spotted strapless dress, fitted tight at the waist, with a slightly full skirt which ends with a scalloped hem. A slight flying panel is secured with a bow a center of the back. Accessorised with  a pair of silver, bowed court shoes and white over the elbow gloves.

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The finale of the whole film is the wedding gown. The fitted bodice features a simple bateau neckline, and small cap sleeves. A train leads off from a bow at the center of the back neckline, which itself leads up to a hooded veil, held in place by a comb. The skirt is full and begins just below the waist, a silk skirt covered in dotted chiffon. Finished with a pair of flat pumps, short gloves and bouquet of delicate white flowers.

An altogether beautiful film, with gorgeous costumes to match. A charming example a well directed Hollywood musical, as well as Audrey Hepburn’s first foray into the world of musicals and the beginning of her partnership with Givenchy. Funny Face is well worth a watch for any one who enjoys fashion, the fifties or Fred Astaire.

 

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