16 February 2011

That Sabrina Dress

"Secondhand accounts can ruin someone's reputation as much as malicious rumors. Therefore, I feel it is time to set the record straight.
In early April of 1974, I had the following conversation with Edith Head in her bungalow on the Universal Studio lot while we looked at a rack of costumes she was going through to select garments for her Vogue fashion shows.
She pulled from the rack a crumpled and sagging black dress, and examined it.
I stared at the dress, recognizing it immediately. "That's the infamous Sabrina dress, non?"
"No! It's the muslin [first-fitting dress], although it's made in rayon taffeta. See the peplum here? I did away with it when I finalized its look."
"But, by all the accounts I have heard, didn't Givenchy make it?"
"Ha," retorted Edith, "that story has been circulating for years, thanks to Miss Hepburn."
"But why?""So she could gain his favour, I suppose, and get clothes free." She paused and fluffed up the skirt. "During preproduction for Sabrina, she was in San Francisco touring with Gigi, and had no time to come to Hollywood for a meeting. So, once more, I went to see her like I did for Roman Holiday, when she was performing in New York. She was pleasant enough, but very tenacious in her taste. Her manner remained aloof, although somewhat sad and unhappy. She smiled only when it was necessary.I was beginning to believe the rumors I had heard of how some journalists and other actors regarded her as being self-absorbed. And I realized that any confidence I had built up with her before, now carried little weight. She handed me a croquis, a rough sketch similar to the quick ones I had shown her originally for Roman Holiday, and said she had made it while viewing Givenchy's runway show in Paris. Years later, I learned she had gained access to the showing giving the name 'Miss Hepburn.' As she was hardly known at the time since Roman Holiday hadn't yet been released, Givenchy thought it was Katharine Hepburn. The sketch of this dress and several others she pulled forth were the costumes she wanted for Sabrina." - Jean-Pierre Dorléac, Emmy-winning Hollywood costume designer who was mentored by the legendary Edith Head.

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