french couturier

Designer:Jacques Doucet. c.1898–1902
Culture:French
Medium:silk, metal, linen.

Jacques Doucet was first, and foremost, a connoisseur of art. Additionally, his passion for the refined and exquisite overflowed into his dealings with fashion, making him one of the finest French couturiers during the Belle Époque.

This piece is an exquisite example of a lavish ball gown made by one of the grandest French couture houses of the period. The material used is of the finest quality, extremely delicate and dramatically embroidered. The cut of the bodice is quite seductive, enhancing the silhouette.

The marriage of Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer took place in Burgenstock, Switzerland, where they made their home. They married at a private civil ceremony on 24 September 1954 attended by close friends and family, followed by a service at the local Protestant chapel the following day. The couple had been introduced at a party hosted by Hepburn’s co-star in Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck. Her next role in Sabrina, released shortly after her wedding in October 1954, established a life-long working relationship and close friendship with Hubert de Givenchy, who designed the vast majority of her wardrobe from then on. However, on the occasion of this, her first marriage, Hepburn wore a gown of white organdie by French couturier and costume designer, Pierre Balmain.

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer wedding photo taken in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, 1954.

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 Evening Gown and LBD for Sabrina (Hubert de Givenchy, 1954)

Though she’d won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her first film, Roman Holiday, Sabrina was only Audrey Hepburn’s second film, so when the 24-year-old actress told her producers at Paramount Pictures that she wanted to work with the 26-year-old French couturier Hubert de Givenchy in creating Sabrina’s post-Paris wardrobe, the executives reminded her that the film already had a costume designer, Edith Head, who at 56 had already won five Oscars for Costume Design (including one for Roman Holiday). If she was compelled to work with Givenchy (whom Hepburn had contacted at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s recommendation after he had turned her down), that was fine by them, but Givenchy would get no credit and she’d have to pay for the clothes out of her own pocket. To their surprise, Hepburn agreed. Head, now limited to designing Sabrina’s wardrobe at the beginning of the film, when the character was simply the overlooked cheuffer’s sparrow-like daughter living over the multicar garage, seethed.

The budding Givenchy-Hepburn coalition produced Sabrina’s sensationally sensual yet regal strapless white organdy gown with embroidered black flowers on its tiered hem. Not only does it turn the two brothers, played by Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, besotted with the “new” Sabrina, into combatants, but it became the dress the press always ran photographs of when citing Hepburn. Retailers were deluged with requests for copies of it, practically ensuring the film an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. But Head refused to share the nomination with Givenchy, justifying her demand that the studio submit only her name for award consideration because, although Givenchy had designed most of Sabrina’s wardrobe, all the costumes were sewn and finished on the Paramount lot under Head’s supervision. Head won her sixth Oscar for Sabrina - she would win two more over the course of her career - shamelessly omitting Givenchy in her acceptance speech.

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