Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funny Face

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Who doesn’t adore a classic tale of romance combined with a good old-fashioned makeover? While watching the film Funny Face, Audrey Hepburn transforms from a reserved gamine to a glamorous and elegant beauty. Not only is the makeover aspect of this film appealing, but also the relationship between Audrey and her costar, Fred Astaire. The two have a unique chemistry together that is brilliantly complimented by a picturesque Paris background.

First of all, Stanley Donen is the director Funny Face. Donen enlisted the interest of Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn after the original story was sold to MGM. The Gershwin brothers composed the musical as a Broadway play before it was sold to MGM.

Fred Astaire plays a fashion photographer, Dick Avery, who falls in love with Audrey Hepburn’s character, Jo Stockton. Kay Thompson portrays Maggie Prescott, the powerful editor of a fashion magazine, Quality, who wants to revive her readers interest in style. Rounding out the cast is Robert Flemyng as Paul Duval, a famous fashion designer whose collection is to be modeled by Jo in Paris.

Each of these characters in the film has been based on a person in the fashion industry. Jo Stockton represents all fashion models, while Dick Avery is based on the famous fashion photographer, Richard Avedon. Richard Avedon was well known for his work in Harper’s Bazaar and the film’s setting was actually inspired by fantastic location photos he took on a visit to Paris. Maggie Prescott is representing the editor of Harper’s Bazaar at the time the film was made, Carmel Snow. Carmel Snow had a tremendous influence in the fashion industry due to her reign at Bazaar for almost twenty-five years. She redefined editorials using white space in the design and clean typography. Lastly, the fashion designer in the film was based on Hubert de Givenchy, who apparently designed all of Audrey Hepburn’s clothing in her movies.

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Speaking of the clothing in this film, could it get any better? I mean from the opening to the end, every garment is worn with such elegance and grace it is hard to remember when there was time for such things. This movie makes me want to go back to those times of lady-like dressing. The polka dot dress that Audrey wears at the end of the film is remarkable due to its timeless appeal. Today, we see polka dots donning everything in Spring 00 fashion.

Famous models of the 150s also graced the film with appearances by Dovima as a famous model in the movie (huge stretch for her)! Also, Suzy parker emerges as a dancer in the pink number. This film seems to signify a different era of the fashion industry that is not at hand today because its sophistication and romanticism.

In the film, as well as in the 150s, there were certainly very prominent silhouettes, fabrics, and colors. Soft, broad shoulders, full skirts, and cinched waists were in full swing in the movie and in the 150s. Knee length and tee length were the acceptable hemlines for skirts. The colors of the film were of course pink, but also greens and blues and yellows. These hues were all done brightly, sometimes put together with contrasting shades to make the pop. Satin looked very fashionable in evening dresses as well as chiffon.

If I were casting this film today, it would be very difficult to recapture the chemistry of the original cast. I may cast Julia Roberts in the lead role, just because you can’t help but think of her as our modern day Audrey Hepburn. I love watching her in a Cinderella story, and I think she could pull of both the intellectual and elegant sides of Jo Stockton. As for her Romeo, Hugh Grant, who possesses a very charming appeal, could play the fashion photographer. Maybe Meryl Streep would bring a powerful presence to the demanding role of fashion editor. But as I said, a present day casting would be beyond difficult.

In closing, I have to state that I am a huge fan of this movie because it was one of the first classics I had viewed when I was young. It introduced me to the fashion industry and inspired me to aspire to greatness. I remember the first time I watched it on cable was a day we had off from school because of snow. After seeing this film, I have a greater appreciation for older movies.

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