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May 4, 2024

Some Behind the Scenes Photos of Audrey Hepburn Wearing Tea-Length Wedding Dress in “Funny Face” (1957)

Before Audrey Hepburn wandered down Fifth Avenue in Breakfast at Tiffany’s — wearing a soon-to-be-ubiquitous little black dress — Hubert de Givenchy created several costumes for Hepburn’s character in Funny Face, including a tea-length wedding dress. See her here, photographed by David Seymour in 1956, at a fitting with the designer.

Funny Face is an American musical film released in 1957 in VistaVision Technicolor, with assorted songs by George and Ira Gershwin. The film was written by Leonard Gershe and directed by Stanley Donen. It stars Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson. Richard Avedon designed the opening title sequence and consulted on the film, and Bill Avery was the still photographer. Contrary to common belief, only four of the songs are from 1927 Broadway musical production of the same name.

Unlike her later film My Fair Lady, Hepburn sings the songs herself in this, her first musical. She performs one solo, “How Long Has This Been Going On?”; a duet with Astaire, “‘S Wonderful”; a duet with Kay Thompson called “On How to be Lovely”; and takes part in an ensemble performance of “Bonjour, Paris.” Her previous dance training is also called into play, not only in the two dance numbers she performs with Astaire but also for a Bohemian-style solo dance in a nightclub, which has since often been replayed in retrospectives of her career. As was the case with many of her leading men, Astaire was much older than Hepburn. At 58, 30 years Hepburn’s senior, he was approaching the end of his musical film career, in this, the second in a consecutive series of three French-themed musicals he made in the 1950s. He performs a song and dance solo with umbrella and cape to Gershwin’s “Let’s Kiss and Make Up.”

According to Hepburn, she insisted on Astaire as a precondition for her participation. Thompson, who usually worked behind the scenes as a musical director for films, makes a rare appearance on camera as Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine editor. Besides her duet with Hepburn, she performs the solo number “Think Pink!” in the presence of a dance chorus, and Thompson and Astaire perform a comic dance duet to “Clap Yo’ Hands.” Thompson is perhaps best known today as the author of the popular series of books concerning the spoiled rich girl, “Eloise”.

Astaire’s character was loosely based on the career of Richard Avedon, who provided a number of the photographs seen in the film, including the stills for the opening credits, which were also used in the halls of Quality magazine. Probably the most famous single image from the film is the intentionally overexposed close-up of Hepburn’s face in which only her facial features—her eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth—are visible. This image is seen briefly in black-and-white at the very beginning of the opening title sequence, during the Funny Face musical number which takes place in a darkroom, and when Dick (Astaire) presents it to Maggie (Thompson).


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