Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fashion in Film: Roman Holiday

This week, I've chosen to take a look at the three costumes worn by Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. This is by far my favorite Audrey Hepburn film, with princesses, adventure, and humor, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Rome. Not to mention fabulous 1950's fashion. Let's take a look.

The costumes in the film were designed by the legendary Edith Head, and the first costume she designed for princess Ann is a white gown with a full skirt and an off the shoulder neckline. Several royal orders are pinned to the bodice, and a sash is tied from her right shoulder to a bow at the hip.

Check out the detail on the bodice of the dress. The tiara and necklace are stunning, as well.
This gown is a perfect example of the "New Look" that surfaced at the end of the 1940's, with a full skirt and a tight bodice. One thing that sticks out to me about this gown is that it is white. Of course, the connotations between a luxurious white gown and brides were as firmly fixed in the minds of the 20th century audience as they are today. I can't help but wonder if this is some subtle reference to the state we find Ann in as the film opens: duty-bound (or "married," as it were) to her country and her work. I think the various royal orders she wears corroborate this as well.

The second costume we see is very basic compared to the opulent gown of the opening scene, but it also shows Ann's character change in a definite way. When Ann runs away from the palace, she dons a white button-down blouse, white gloves, and a belted skirt.

Without changing her clothes, Ann manages to completely transform her look. Her blouse sleeves are rolled up, the collar is buttoned down and her white necktie is changed out for a colorful kerchief, and she picks up a pair of very Roman sandals from a street vendor. And of course, an iconic hair cut finishes the look.

You can see the sandals better here.
This incredible transformation shows Ann's mounting independence, and her fancy-free sense of adventure as the film progresses.

The film has a bittersweet ending; Ann ultimately decides to leave the life and the man she loves and return to her royal duties. The last scene of the film takes place at a press conference in which Princess Ann wears a full-skirted lace dress with a v-collar and voluminous elbow length sleeves.

Once again we see that her dress is white. In comparison with the darkly-clad ladies flanking her, Ann looks very feminine and youthful, even overdressed. Perhaps this shows how she's returned to her station as figurehead, being the face of her country.

Other interesting elements of her outfit are her hat and pearl choker.

The hat and necklace are both very high-fashion pieces of the era, in contrast with her second outfit, which has a thrown-together feel to it. I think this shows how she's put her carefree holiday in Rome behind her and has willingly returned to the controlled environment of royal duties.

That wraps up week two of the Fashion in Film series! I'm really enjoying it thus far, especially the opportunity to delve into the costumes of my favorite Audrey Hepburn film. See you next week!

Bonus Round: Check out another great costume analysis of Roman Holiday here.

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