Audrey Hepburn: The Sorority Girl’s Pin-Up

Audrey HepburnGuest blogger Jessica Pickens writes:

On a college campus you can’t miss the familiar outline of Holly Golightly with her cigarette holder while wearing a long black gown on the back of a sorority T-shirt. And of course under that photo will be Coco Chanel’s quote “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” (Though that is completely ironic, because Givenchy dressed Audrey Hepburn in most of her films). If you don’t believe me, scroll through this blog that describes itself as a “celebration of Greek Life.” There are at least four posts about both Hepburn and Chanel.

Sororities have taken the stylish, gamine star and are using her as their unofficial spokesperson for the pay-for-your-friends groups. She is on their t-shirts, event fliers, posters in their dorm rooms, coffee cups, keychains and Facebooks. Miss Hepburn helps announce fall and spring recruitment, formals and bake sales they have to raise money for their charities. If Audrey Hepburn was a business, it would be one of the wealthiest companies in the United States. Once in my photography class, I even heard a boy ask who Audrey Hepburn was and my friend Dominic Beamer responded, “You know, she’s that lady who is on the back of all of the sorority t-shirts.”

But why pick on Audrey Hepburn? At the start of her career, she was described as having enormous eyebrows, rat chewed bangs and horse teeth. Does that sound glamorous or sexy? I think a large part is the Givenchy outfits in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Who can forget the black dress she wears in front of Tiffany’s, the pink party dress she wears when Fred dies or even her brown trench coat?  However, Givenchy also designed the clothes for Sabrina, Charade and How to Steal a Million. Why don’t we see an outline of Audrey in that crazy helmet hat from How to Steal a Million or the dress she wows the Lamarees with at the exclusive dinner party in Sabrina?

Audrey Hepburn was one of my first favorite actresses when my movie love began. My love with her started with Sabrina and then Funny Face.  I eventually made my way around to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.When I first saw it in the 8th grade I had no clue what was going on: Why is she getting arrested? Why did he give her $50 to go to the powder room? What is Patricia Neal’s deal? Now that I’m older, I understand the drug and sexual references; Breakfast at Tiffany’s is covering some pretty serious stuff.  I often wonder if these girls who say it’s their favorite movie watch it for the glamour of Givenchy’s clothes and George Peppard’s good looks or if they have even seen it at all.  Are they looking at the deeper meaning that Truman Capote wrote about in his novel: a woman toying with the idea of bisexuality?  Audrey Hepburn even felt like she was miscast in the role.

Audrey Hepburn was glamorous in the movies, but like most actresses, didn’t have a fabulous personal life:

•She hid in a cellar from the Nazis during World War II. She and her mother lived in occupied Holland and were forced to eat tullip bulbs and grass. This is what lead to her eating disorder later on in life.

• She wanted to be a ballerina but was told that she was too tall.

• Audrey had a difficult time getting pregnant. She was pregnant at the start of shooting for 1960’s The Unforgiven, but was thrown from the horse and suffered a miscarriage–along with a broken back.

• Audrey had two failed marriages: One with actor Mel Ferrer and another with Andre Dotti, who cheated on her.

• While filming My Fair Lady, Hepburn worked very hard learning the songs and desperately wanted to sing. In the end she was dubbed by Marnie Nixon. Hepburn later said she wouldn’t have agreed to the film had she known this.

An example of Audrey Hepburn on a T-shirt.

• She was constantly self conscious about her flat chest, thinness and looks. She was very uncomfortable and unhappy during the movie Funny Face, and wanted then-husband Ferrer with her during all times.

However, Audrey Hepburn also was a wonderful woman who had a love for gardens and spent the end of her life doing work with UNICEF. She was a great actress  as well, and won an Oscar for Roman Holiday. It’s a shame to me that she has her image defamed on brainless, comic sans-fonted sorority t-shirts.

Comet Over Hollywood, named for the 1938 Kay Francis film Comet Over Broadway, offers anything from Hollywood beauty tips to rants about Katherine Hepburn. Jessica Pickens is a journalism student at Winthrop University who is interested in silent films to anything made before 1964. She writes for Winthrop’s student newspaper, The Johnsonian, and the Shelby Star in Shelby North Carolina. Her Facebook page is