Excerpt about Audrey Hepburn
In 1957 Beaton was intrigued by the clash of aesthetic rigour and bodily vulgarity at a tea ceremony in Japan. The ritual prescribed and refined every gesture, yet the tea was imbibed, her reported, with ‘shockingly loud sips.’ In the same way, he justified the shade of ‘shocking pink’ merchandized by the designer Schiaparelli, and the rough materials she used in her clothes. She should be praised, he said, for ‘inventing her own particular form of ugliness and shocking a great many people’. For Beaton, these were legitimate aims. Society renews itself by recruiting from below, as when Mrs. Higgins’ guest adopt Eliza’s racy slang; art develops by confounding traditional definitions of beauty and incorporating abnormality. Sizing up Audrey Hepburn, Beaton noticed that ‘her nose and jawline do not conform to the golden rule of Praxiteles’. Her eyes, incongruously unclassical, were a quotation from a Flemish painting. To this she added ‘flat Mongolian features’ and a neck he thought scraggy. But, as Hepburn conceded in a note she sent to him after a wardrobe test for My Fair Lady, he made her look beautiful.
LEFT: Audrey Hepburn wearing a clown’s collar, published in Photographs of the Year (1954).
RIGHT: Cover of Beaton’s diary of the film, My Fair Lady, featuring Audrey Hepburn (1965).