Breakfast at Tiffany’s is, of course, one of the most iconic films for fashion of all time. It brought us the little black dress and the conviction that anyone can pursue their dream of being a New York socialite no matter how unlikely and have an oddly great time in the process.
The story of the film’s costumes, however, is one of legendary Hollywood revenge. Just like in Hepburn’s earlier film Sabrina, Givenchy had been hired to design her gowns. After all, Hepburn was a former model of his, and he loved the idea of a rising star showing off his clothes. Givenchy became, of course, the creator of the little black dress for which Breakfast at Tiffany’s is so famous.
Sabrina, however, had led to cruel results for Givenchy, when Edith Head, the costume designer who hadn’t designed all of the costumes (or any of the real standout show pieces used in the Paris sequences) won an Oscar for Givenchy’s work and never acknowledged his part in the film’s look. The studio even helped her cover it up! So when it was time for Head and Givenchy to work on the same project again, Givenchy made a point to protect his interests. Head’s credit line on the film wound up being merely “wardrobe supervisor,” which was a huge demotion for her.
Don’t feel too bad for Head though, not only did she win more Oscars than any other woman and garner an amazing thirty-four nominations in her career, she got her first costume design job in film using sketches she’d borrowed from someone else!
Luckily we can all borrow the idea of the little black dress from this classic film, and there’s truly no better time than now, with the current resurgence of interest in late-50s and early 60s vintage looks thanks to the current crop of Hollywood period pieces, which should ensure that sophisticated simplicity is a major fashion statement for some time to come.