Tag Archives: Audrey Hepburn

Givenchy For McCall’s Patterns, 1966

I don’t write a lot about haute couture here at The Vintage Traveler. The careers of most of the 20th century greats are so well documented that there’s just not a lot I can add. But I just could not let the recent death of Hubert de Givenchy pass by without mentioning one of my favorite ever sewing pattern lines. In 1966 the movie, How to Steal a Million staring Audrey Hepburn and a wide cast of Givenchy creations, led to four of the suits Audrey wore in the movie being adapted into sewing patterns by McCall’s.

The patterns rated three pages in McCall’s magazine, all with publicity stills of Audrey, rather than pictures of the patterns. In the McCall’s Home Catalog, however, there were sketches of the pattern designs. By comparing the two sets of images you can see that the patterns are very faithful to the original designs as worn in the movie. All four designs were either suits or coat and dress ensembles.

Over the years I’ve managed to find three of the four patterns. An interesting note is that neither Audrey Hepburn nor the movie were mentioned on the actual pattern envelopes. I find that a bit odd as the connection between the patterns and the movie were well publicized in the magazines.

This is the pattern that I do not own. I need this pattern in my life.

I’ve been telling myself for years to make this coat. Maybe now is the time.

I don’t even try to collect couture clothing, as my interests don’t really run in that direction. I have been known to pick up the rare (inexpensive) piece though when lucky enough to find it. In fact, one of the few pieces of couture I own is a Givenchy suit, which dates to 1967.



Filed under Designers

Currently Viewing: Two for the Road

There are some films that have to be on every fashion lover’s list, and that includes most of those staring Audrey Hepburn.  Two for the Road is a bit different from the usual Audrey fare:  she does not wear Givenchy couture and the leading man is not a tottering old geezer.  I’ll just address the clothing here.

The clothes were not so much designed as they were styled.  It was decided that the usual Givenchy was too posh for the character, and so they bought the clothing off the rack.  What you end up with is an interesting assemblage of 1966 styles, with clothing from Cacherel, Mary Quant and Rabanne and everything in-between.  At 37, Audrey was a bit old for many of the styles, but her slim figure certainly made them look great anyway.

January 1967, McCall’s

McCall’s magazine did a feature on Audrey and the clothes she wore in the film, and her observations say a lot about how she felt about clothing.  She was notoriously picky about comfort and fit, and so she really disliked wearing a Paco Rabanne metal disc dress, saying it was impossible to sit in it because it was so painful.  She also disliked a V de V (designed by Michele Rosier) vinyl pantsuit, saying it did not breathe.

What got high marks were two jersey dresses by American designer Ken Scott.  Scott was working in Milan, Italy, designing bold, colorful prints which were often in Ban-Lon.  She liked these so much that she kept the two (in the photo at right and bottom left), saying she would wear them for years to come.  “I want to stay in fashion, but being young in spirit counts more toward looking young than dressing in a hippy style.”

The blue print is my favorite look from the movie, and for years I’ve wanted a Ken Scott to add to my collection.  Last week I took a break and visited a new Goodwill, and as I was going through the rack I came across a Ban-Lon print, and the hopeful thought went through my mind…”Ken Scott?”   And sure enough, it was.  Not as pretty as Audrey’s but still, a good example in excellent condition for $2.


Filed under Collecting, Currently Viewing

Almost There…

It seems like forever that I’ve been trying to complete a set of four particular McCall’s patterns.  These were four designs that Givenchy designed for Audrey Hepburn to wear in How to Steal a Million.  Thanks to blog reader, Petite Main, I now have 3 of the four. Her sharp eyes spotted the pattern above on the Vintage Pattern Wiki.  If you love patterns you really ought to check out the Wiki.  I need to remember to add ones I have for sale that are not already pictured.

Ironically, the pattern was offered for sale by my friend Lisa at Miss Helenes and the Vintage Fashion Library! Lisa has a huge selection of patterns at both sites, and I have it on good authority that she’ll soon be adding some spectacular designs from the 50s!

But back to the Givenchy.  I first blogged about this two years ago.  Since then Birgit of Stitches and Loops has helped me locate two of these, although I was badly outbid on eBay on 8340.  I really didn’t think there would be much interest in the pattern.

Why?  Because McCall’s did such a poor job of marketing these.  There is no way to tell from the pattern envelope that these four designs were actually designed for Ms. Hepburn.  There is no mention of the movie.  And frankly, the illustrations are just not very exciting.  I mean, here is this pattern made up in that great check, modeled by Audrey:

photo from McCall’s, 1966

Or maybe it’s just the hat that makes the difference…

So how did I find the movie connection?  From one of life’s happy accidents!  I happened upon a July 1966 McCall’s magazine and bought it because of the pictures of Audrey.  When I really got to looking at the photos, it occurred to me that I had one of the patterns.  That set me on a quest for the others.

So, just one more.  Maybe I’ll actually make one of them!


Posted by Shay:

My absolute favorite outfit from that film was the cocktail dress/half-veil/cigarette holder ensemble she donned to make herself look the role of femme fatale for a meeting with O’Toole. No, it’s not a great movie but it’s great fun.

Wednesday, April 1st 2009 @ 8:30 PM

Posted by Lisa:

Oh, what a difference Audrey makes! I really thought that it was a rather meh pattern when I was listing it, but 60s coats are pretty popular styles. Who’da thunk it was Givenchy? I’m tickled!

Wednesday, April 1st 2009 @ 9:07 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I watched this movie again this morning just to see the 4 outfits featured. The tattersal check coat is the very last ensemble in the film, and oddly enough, Hepburn is not wearing the matching hat.Shay, I love that too. It is great how they glittered up her eyelids so they could be seen better beneath the veil.

Sunday, April 5th 2009 @ 1:09 PM

Posted by Shay:

I wonder what luck I would have finding this coat pattern in a size 40 or 42….it is so wearable.

Monday, April 6th 2009 @ 11:16 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Shay, it was made up to a 40, so it is out there. The more I look at it, the more I love it.

Monday, April 6th 2009 @ 1:17 PM

1 Comment

Filed under Collecting, Designers, Sewing

Currently Viewing – How to Steal a Million

In 1966, Audrey Hepburn and her Givenchy wardrobe starred in How to Steal a Million, not her best movie, but one of the best collaborations between Hepburn and Givenchy.  In short, he nailed her look.  In a famous line from the movie, Peter O’Toole even comments on the designer’s role in the film.  O’Toole’s character, upon inspecting the cleaning lady’s ensemble Audrey is to wear declares, “Well, for one thing, it gives Givenchy a night off!”

During the 1950s, Givenchy had done a line of patterns for McCall’s, some of them obviously inspired by the movie Sabrina.  But this time, the four patterns by Givenchy were adapted directly from the movie wardrobe.  All are suits or ensembles of jacket and dress, which Hepburn wore almost exclusively throughout the movie.  These patterns are actually quite hard to find.  In five years of searching, I’ve located only one of them:

which is this suit from the film:

The others, just in case someone out there has one…




All photos from the July 1966 McCall’s magazine.

From the McCall’s Home Sewing Catalog, Spring/Summer, 1966


Filed under Currently Viewing, Designers, Sewing

Currently Viewing – Roman Holiday

I don’t usually go in for souvenir tees, but this one I had to have:

It’s pretty easy to find Roman Holiday souvenirs in Rome, mainly calendars and postcards.  But there’s at least one shop that sells nothing but Vacanze Romane items – totes, shirts, magnets, wall hangings and on and on.  It seems a bit odd that over 50 years after the movie was made, there is still such a market for it.  After all, many movies have been made in Rome, and I found no La Dolce Vita, Gladiator, and or even When in Rome (with the Olsons) trinkets.

Must be the fashion transformation fantasy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Currently Viewing, Travel