Last night we watched Funny Face (1957). A movie that neither of us really knew anything about. We picked it as it was short (99 minutes) and Audrey was wearing a killer suit and hat on the back cover. Sadly it only made a brief appearance in the film, but I discovered that Hepburn formed a lasting relationship, and personal friendship with Hubert de Givenchy starting with Sabrina in 1954. Miss Hepburn's Paris Wardrobe got it's own credit at the start- naturally it was by Givenchy.
Paris was an unexpected but delightful character in Funny Face. Audrey Hepburn plays Jo Stockton who is discovered as the face of Quality Magazine whilst working in an intellectual, philosophical bookshop (Embryo Concepts) in Grenwich Village, New York. She is whisked away to Paris to showcase Givenchy's designs and Paris itself. Audrey and her major costars- Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson all burst into song on arriving in Paris. A response I can fully understand.
But I was quite astonished how dark and dirty Paris looked! Her iconic buildings are grimy. The Opera Garnier and the Statue of Joan of Arc are not shiny with gilt. She has clearly been cleaned up in the intervening decades, and looks the better for it I think.
Most of the locations are instantly recognisable to anyone who is familiar with Paris. Opera Garnier. The Winged Victory of Samothrace- I shall think of Audrey in that stunning red dress next visit, when I'm on those very stairs with 460 other people.
The Eiffel Tower of course. Arc du Triomphe, and the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel. One location had me stumped. A lovely little chateau, that forms a backdrop for the final scene. Naturally enough someone has done all the detective work for me. It is the Chateau de la Reine Blanche in the Coye-la-Foret, north of Paris, near Chantilly. A day trip to Chantilly is on the cards for the next visit to Paris actually, so you never know, I might visit here too.
Another discomforting aspect was the 30 year age difference between the major stars. Hepburn's Jo, is a sweet young ingenue, is courted by Fred Astaire's photographer Dick Avery. Hepburn here is 28, Astaire 58. The third main star was also a surprise to me, Kay Thompson, more famous to me for writing her series of Eloise books, it was great to see in action as the editor of Quality magazine, a fashion editor ruling things long before Anna Wintour and any devils wearing Prada.
The story itself is all a bit silly, but it was a great backdrop to a lovely evening. Homemade pumpkin soup. A bottle of Moscato. And some Fancypants Magic Bars. Lots of laughs. Great stuff.