Audrey Hepburn and the little black dress

We watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s yesterday… that is what we do when the household comes down with a bug- watch movies. My toddler was less than impressed and yet there I was, watching it for maybe the tenth time still oggling Audrey Hepburn’s fabulous wardrobe in the film (1961). A quick google and I learnt that her iconic dress from the first scenes of the film (where she wanders about the streets of 1960s New York to the strains of Moon River) went for almost one million US dollars in aid of charity.

So what was it about that little black number, designed by Givenchy that has really stayed with our collective consciousness through the decades? What makes it so appealing? Elegance. Glamour. Simplicity. All of these things were calling cards of Givenchy’s work. But I also think there is something about a little bit of shoulder… it is demure but alluring. Edgy, even.

Below are two designs I really like from the late 1960s and early 1970s- Butterick 5769 and Vogue 7528. Yes indeed, Vogue 7528 is the pattern famed to have once gone at an ebay auction for over $700. It was a look- not just a pile of paper- that someone was really prepared to pay for. I suspect a single bared shoulder taps into all of those romantic culturally entrenched references to the Goddesses of ancient Greece.


I couldn’t possibly talk about Breakfast At Tiffany’s however without mentioning another favourite pattern- one I doubt I will ever part with because I love the design, cut and construction: Pauline Trigere’s McCalls New York Designer Collection Plus pattern (N1010) which was produced in 1967. The bodice appears to be cut away in a style that flaunts the model’s toned shoulders.


The dress is lined and underlined with french darts and could be made in street or evening length. Why would you make this in anything but black? And it would have to be evening length… don’t you agree? Not sure who the model is but it was the perfect shot for this pattern cover. And it is definitely on my to-make-list… one of these days! Maybe after our second child is born, I will attempt it…!

I am quite partial to Trigere’s work… she also did a one shoulder dress, McCalls 7549 which boasts a more dramatic bodice, embellished with a bias bow. I have seen there dress made up to very pretty effect by other sewing enthusiasts on the blogosphere.

photo-5How do I look?” Asks Miss Golightly of her new friend “Very good” He replies  “I must say, I’m amazed.”

Asymmetrical dresses… a little shoulder… destined to be an enduring classic? What do you think?



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