Saturday, October 8, 2011

Always Loving Audrey

The mother of all icons for me is Audrey Hepburn. She alone saved my adolescence. If Audrey could be considered "beautiful" when she wasn't even "pretty", there was hope. I still have piles of Audrey clippings dating from 1953. "Funny Face" was the movie that changed my life. I knew for sure I would move to New York and work for a fashion magazine. Which I did.

Digression for story to illustrate youth's determination and naivety: Audrey's character in the film, Jo, the shy bookstore clerk, work black stockings with her tweed jumper. I was driven to own a pair but had no idea where to find bohemian black stockings in 1957 Cleveland, Ohio. I could have tried a dance supply store but certainly had never seen any ballerinas in Cleveland. There were, however, plenty of nuns. So I took myself to the convent department of May Company. I bought a pair of opaque black cotton stockings that rolled around elastic garters. The saleswoman was very sweet and wished me luck in my calling to God. I am Jewish and was 15.

I once stopped a VHS tape of "Sabrina" at all the costume changes to sketch what Audrey was wearing (and try to replicate). I bought every book about her, until they proliferated without end. There are still fine new ones, especially Julia Demos' lovely picture book for children, "Being Audrey".

Over time, of course, I realized Audrey was more than a beautiful image. Her voice, manner, talent and real-life good deeds placed her into the stratosphere of icons. I just can't imagine there isn't a woman who doesn't find in Audrey something she would like to find in herself.

I still love Audrey. She protected me in those bittersweet moments of youth. To look like Audrey may be unattainable; to be like Audrey might be possible. She didn't coin it, but the journey is indeed the destination.

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