Sunday, March 24, 2013

Audrey and Her Funny Feet

Here's a little Audrey Hepburn story for you.

I think of two things when I put on a pair of white socks (which is only with sneakers and for a workout). The first is my mother's sure-fire sign that a man was a loser: white socks with dress shoes. The only man I've found who did that was my date for the eighth grade school prom. He was thirteen. The second is the story about Audrey Hepburn and the white socks she wore in "Funny Face".

Now I love your funny feet

Audrey's character, Jo, is excited to be in Paris where she hopes to infiltrate "beat" society. She is wearing a black turtleneck sweater, slim black slacks (a little on the short side) and black loafers. When she begins to dance a jazzy number in a smokey "boite" (unfortunately probably one of the weaker sequences in the film), her white socks are front and center.

Fred Astaire is not looking at feet

No matter that the director, Stanley Donen, has achieved his intent— to have you staring at Audrey's nimble feet. At the time, and for many years after, the white socks were a sartorial faux pas I was sure Audrey would not make. In a way I was right. She hated the idea and fought (Audrey fighting???) Donen to ditch the socks.

I've heard the story before, but this is is from an April, 2012, interview with Stanley Donen about working with Audrey:

She was wonderful.... We only had one disagreement.... On “Funny Face,” there was a scene where she danced in a black slacks and top. She said [I want to wear] black socks and I said no, white socks. She said it will ruin [the uniformity]. You can’t have white socks. I made a test with her in the white socks and she kept saying black socks. We were right up to the moment of starting the sequence. I went into her dressing room and said, “Audrey. We are never going to agree — you will have to wear the white socks.” She said all right. When the rushes came in she wrote me a little note: “Dear Stanley, you were right about the socks.” She was glorious looking. She was a lovely, lovely person. We stayed friends.

Studio shots for publicity + no white socks = mystery solved


  1. I just saw "Funny Face" for the first time (at a theatre screening!) last week, and while it felt dated, her outfit was so sleek and modern. Really timeless. And you know, I didn't even notice that she had white socks on!

  2. Such a great story. I love the film, but had never really liked that sequence of her dancing to that modern jazz. But several years ago I loved the Gap commercial that set it to Back in Black by AC/DC and I don't even like that music!