Monday, July 14, 2008

On how to be lovely

What's in a name?

I feel the need to explain mine... or, rather, the name I've chosen for this blog. Upon saying it aloud, I realize "Ip & Aud" sounds a bit like "hip and odd," and I suppose that's an appropriate homonym! As this is a blog about fashion, "hip and odd" tends to sum up the whimsical fashion world in general. But that's not what the name really means...

In 1959, actress and indisputable fashion icon Audrey Hepburn starred in a film called Green Mansions. It was directed by Mel Ferrer, her husband at the time, and Audrey played a "forest girl" named Rima who had a pet deer. The movie's animal trainer suggested Audrey take the little fawn home with her so they could bond. She named him Pippin - Ip, for short - and the bond between the icon and the forest creature was surprising, even in unflappable Hollywood.

"Beverly Hills habitués are fairly blasé about what they see," photographer Bill Willoughby recalled, "but Audrey being followed around town by this lovely creature stopped everyone in their tracks.

"Ip... would come right up and lie down next to her when she was having a nap. They were literally in touch, something I had never seen between a human being and a forest animal."

Willoughby took many shots of Audrey with her pet, and the deer remained her companion long after the film wrapped. Ip was one of many animals lucky enough to have Audrey's attention lavished upon them; she also had cats, doves, canaries, a donkey and, over the years, seven different dogs. To think that this Hollywood star, still revered as a goddess in the fashion world, was literally that down to earth is immensely refreshing. Audrey was in touch with nature in a way few people - let alone actresses - are.

"I'm grateful for everything that's green," she once said. "When I didn't have a dime, I held to the dream of one day having my own orchard with fruit trees and a place to grow vegetables." She also said that bonding with animals "is possibly the purest experience you can have."

There are many reasons Audrey has been my fashion icon - and humanitarian role model - since I was a little girl. When I was very young, it was because I loved watching her pretty dresses swoosh when she glided across rooms in films like Sabrina and Funny Face. I wanted to get lost with Princess Anne on her Roman Holiday and share her innocent, yet pivotal, adventures—drastic haircuts, ice cream cones, falling in love with a handsome stranger and, best of all, shopping for the perfect Italian sandals. And, like everyone else, I fell madly in love with Holly Gollightly in the film that tops nearly every list of "most influential fashion movies," Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's ridiculously cliché, and ridiculously perfect.

My girlhood dream was to stand outside Tiffany's, baguette in hand, and gaze longingly at the baubles inside. It's an image well-ingrained in my mind and in pop culture, like so many from the film-- recently, Gossip Girl couldn't resist having one of their lead actresses dress up in a Tiffany's-inspired dream sequence.

I adore Audrey in her little black dress, but I formed a special connection to her that has little to do with Audrey the actress. When I was ten, an aunt gave me my first – and only – Tiffany’s necklace. My aunt's a New Yorker and knew how much I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but that wasn't why she gave me this particular gift. The necklace bears a sterling silver deer pendant, part of a Tiffany's nature collection whose proceeds went toward preserving wildlife. My family knew that, above my love of Audrey, fashion, and New York was my love of all things nature. Though I didn't make the connection to Audrey and her pet deer, having a pendant that encompassed my love of all those things was so important to me, and still is. And it's the one accessory I have that goes with absolutely everything! When I look at it, I can't help but think of Audrey and all the lovely things she represents. In my writing, I strive to make connections between the fantasy that is fashion and the beauty of nature. Fashion is fun and carefree, but it doesn’t have to be careless. I’ve learned that it's more than possible to embody fashionista and humanitarian—just look at Audrey Hepburn.

*This blog's photo can be viewed at