Monday, August 27, 2018

The Style Essentials - Audrey Hepburn Gets Modern in 1967's TWO FOR THE ROAD

This past weekend, I presented THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1960s at the Egyptian Theatre. One of the influential films I featured from that decade was 1967's Two for the Road. Not only that, we even watched it on the big screen after my presentation, an incredible thrill being able to see all the detail of that iconic design. Despite the movie's often challenging subject matter - the evolution and de-evolution of a marriage - its honesty mixed with humor has made me grow to love it over the years. It's one of those films that means something different depending where you are in your life when you watch it. Even the style is something I've come to appreciate more since I, like many others, was originally resistant to Audrey Hepburn in a Givenchy-free wardrobe.

It is not overstating things to say that costumes are critical to Two for the Road. The story is told with a non-linear narrative and it is the costume design that guides the way - communicating exactly where (or more accurately, when) you are in their relationship. Because you see the transformation of her style out of order in the movie, several years ago I created the essay and photo-essay below to make it more chronological. I'm sharing it again for anyone who may have only seen the movie once with the hope it helps you have an even greater appreciation of Two for the Road when you view it another time.


Whenever the Academy Awards approach, it's always interesting to look at its history and the extensive list of films that were overlooked by Oscar.  This is especially true in the area of costume design. Considering that the Academy did not even allocate an award to costume design until 1948, it's easy to be amazed at the iconic work that was missed completely as a result - Our Dancing Daughters (1928), Top Hat (1935), and Gilda (1946) are but three. Also, at this time, film itself was bouncing back and forth from black-and-white to color, so the related Oscar categories in costume design did the same - starting with two awards and then eventually diminishing down to one. More changes would come in the 1960s when there was a shift toward rewarding costume design in lush period pieces over a modern wardrobe, such as previous Oscar winner A Place in the Sun (1951). As a result, today we can look back and see milestones in the history of fashion in film that were missed, many not even nominated. One happens to be Stanley Donen's 1967 dramatic-comedy Two for the Road.

Starring fashion muse Audrey Hepburn, this is one of those films that really illustrates how interconnected fashion can be with film. Two for the Road is a showcase of just about every important late 1960s designer. The credits do not even mention them all, though it does list legends like Mary Quant, André Courréges, and Paco Rabanne. All were associated with the artistic Swinging London scene, the result of the end of an economic boom in England and a global youth revolution on the rise. The resulting modern (or Mod) design frequently included higher hemlines in colorful A-line shapes and a tremendous amount of experimentation in materials, everything from new synthetic fabrics to metal and plastic. London's Carnaby Street was the center of the fashion universe at this time and Two for the Road featured many of its best designers.

Bringing this cutting-edge ready-to-wear to the screen was no easy task, especially in an Audrey Hepburn film. At the TCM Classic Film Festival, director Stanley Donen spoke candidly about his decision to not use his friend's favorite costume designer Hubert de Givenchy. Of course theirs was one of the great relationships of all time between designer and star, having worked together since Sabrina (1954) and known for other iconic fashion of movies like Funny Face (1957) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). Though Audrey fought Donen's decision initially, she slowly acquiesced after understanding just how much it would work in her favor to try something new.

Interestingly, she was already on that path. Only a year before, she had done How to Steal a Million with Peter O'Toole with a mind to making her image more current. Audrey was strongly associated with the 1950s and that classic style while the world suddenly seemed to be rebelling against both. At the very least, she felt that the definition of 'classic' was evolving and she wanted to, too. So she cut her hair, updated her makeup, and begged Givenchy to push the envelope a bit. One example is the silk side-slit nightie that he paired with a hot pink coat and black patent Wellies for Audrey to drive Peter back to the Ritz. With Two for the Road, she would drop her safety net of Givenchy entirely and show the world she could model the most modern fashion of the day.

Even more important, though, is the role of the costume design in the film itself. Set on vacation in the South of France, Two for the Road is about architect Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) and his wife Joanna (Audrey) who examine their 12 year marriage through flashbacks of past vacations. Costume changes galore show Joanna evolve from simple college girl first falling in love to jaded wealthy sophisticate wearing high fashion. Style becomes critical to story - all the cars, clothing, hair styles, and makeup communicate what stage we are in their relationship. And because Givenchy did not design the wardrobe, both Audrey and the audience could delve much more deeply into the character.

Though Two for the Road was nominated for an Oscar for its innovative screenplay, it was NOT nominated for its costume design. I have tried to right that wrong by naming it one of The Style Essentials on GlamAmor - iconic costume design in the movies that influenced fashion at the time and continues to influence fashion today. This movie made an immediate impact on shoppers in 1967 and today its Mod style is all the rage, seen in collections from major designers such as Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. It's stunning that the parade of ground-breaking fashion on Audrey in Two for the Road - which includes Paco Rabanne's iconic metal disc dress - was not enough to sway the Academy. Think it's time to make our own vote.

Two for the Road has a non-linear narrative--story is told in flashback after flashback--
but this photo-essay simplifies things and shows the chronological evolution of Joanna's style

So much of the couple's story is told by the cars they drive in the movie...
they first meet on a VW bus while Joanna is traveling through Europe with girlfriends from school

Long days hiking requires comfort and 
young Joanna dresses in denim, sneakers, simple red sweater, and long hair pulled back

She also swaps out the red sweater for one in navy and tipped in white

In the next phase of their life - after they are first married -
they take a month-long 'vacation' with friends in a Ford Country Squire

A different red sweater now accompanies khakis and
slightly shorter hair with bangs

Without question, this pretty yellow shirtdress and scarf
are much more cheerful than the trip itself

As they gain more success, their car becomes an MG
and Audrey is now dressed in a classic Burberry trench and short haircut

Pink is one of my favorite colors on Audrey 
and she looks so fresh in this matching cotton hat, shirt, and shorts

As these photos show, Mark is delusional when he calls his wife a "pregnant sow" and deserves being chased by Joanna...
so cute in this black maillot, black ballet slippers, and celery button-down tied at waist

One of my favorite classic looks on any woman -
a navy crewneck combined with white denim

A Bentley marks the moment when Mark's talent in architecture is first discovered, 
and the couple begins to be divided by the demands of his career

Audrey lounges poolside at the boss' villa in what looks like a Ken Scott one-piece swimsuit

This pink paillette gown by Bellville Sasoon (here's a sketch) is perfectly charming
and represents the mood of their marriage here - successful and still relatively happy

Mark himself graduates from an MG to a red Triumph Herald convertible, 
which takes him traveling in style for work in Europe

Mark spies trouble in his rear-view mirror
and takes a detour on both his trip and in his marriage

The remainder of their marriage is represented by a 1966 white Mercedes 230sl

Audrey in a cutting-edge Michele Rosier PVC suit with wide striped blouse,
an outfit she claimed was the most uncomfortable thing she had ever worn

In contrast, she praised the comfort of this Ken Scott dress,
an American who was one of the first with psychedelic prints in the 1960s

Sporty grass green and white outfit by Mary Quant and
white wrap-around sunglasses that show off the futuristic style of Andre Courréges

An ensemble in yellow and white (perhaps by Courréges)
could be a cover up for Audrey's knit striped swimwear

Looking over the French Riviera resort that Mark built in a spot that once had nothing...
they, too, had nothing then and yet those were the happiest days of their life

Mod white suit paired with black Courréges sunglasses and Louis Vuitton luggage

The rugby mini dress (likely from Mary Quant) that still inspires copies today
is paired with Courréges' space-age yellow visor sunglasses

One of the most iconic looks from Two for the Road - as well as in all of fashion history -
is the signature metal disc dress from Paco Rabanne

Due to the division in her relationship with Mark, Joanna has an affair with David (Georges Descrieres)
and then must decide who she will stay with for the rest of her life

The eyes have it - a perfect look at Audrey in Two for the Road
and her iconic makeup, hairstyle, and fashion from this film

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...