Little Black Dress 4: 1950 Sabrina and Edith Head (courtesy of Givenchy)

The 50's were not such a great decade for the LBD, in fact in the movies of the era only femmes fatales or "bad girls" used to wear it.
With rare exceptions. And for me This is the exception of the exceptions. Because it was Haudrey Hepburn in Sabrin, and because the dress was designed by Hubert de Givenchy, who will be the main drive for the incredible rebirth of the LBD in the 60's.
There's a story about this dress, which I love very much. Maybe everybody knows about it but I can't resist telling  a good story, even if it's 61 years old.
Edith Head's "original" design for the cocktail dress
In 1953 during pre-production of Sabrina, Billy Wilder wanted her to come back from Paris with a real parisian haute couture look. So he told Haudrey  to go to Paris a choose some outfits. But there was a problem. The problem was called Edit Head, she WAS the costume department and in house designer at Paramount pictures since 1938, and she expected to design the dresses for Sabrina. So a compromise was reached. Head would design the exact models that Hepburn should choose in Paris (with Givenchy's agreement) and she also won an Oscar for them!!!

This is the only dress actually designed by Head, she won an Oscar for this

Givenchy dind't disclose this story until  after Head's death. Even though the rumor had been circulating for some years (Wilder was a notorious loudmouth). Anyway, Edith Head won a total of 8 Oscars in her career and for 7 of them she was the actual designer! And she did design some wonderful outfits, think Grace Kelly in To Catch a thief or Rear Window.

One more bit of trivia: Givenchy was thrilled to hear that Miss Hepburn wanted to visit his atelier for the costumes for her new movie. But he expected Katherine not Haudrey (who had made only Roman Holidays and had not yet received her Oscar for it). So he was really disappointed and being busy with his new collection, Haudrey had to choose among the dresses of the previous season.
Anyway, this was the beginning of the incredible working relationship between Givenchy and Hepburn!!!

Now, this is the dress I choose to represent the LBD in the 50's, in one of his rare but defining appearances of the era:

Of course mine "in house" Haudrey is Virginia so she is modelling it.For the dress I used satin black linen. The shoes are by The Vogue HK and the little hat is by IT (courtesy of Mafalda). As you shall see this is not quite a perfect scale reproduction of the dress. I love Givenchy and tried several times to reproduce his designs but I found out that his dresses look simple but ARE NOT!!! And I need to improve my skills wit full skirts......

I'm happy to have finally Virginia in a post all for herself, I think she deserved it, she's the sweetest thing in my collection!

This time instead of doing a photomontage I tried to put together a little diorama with some Thai's jewel boxes and Burma's laquers and pottery, 

Virginia is holding a Burma's pottery wistle, in a shape of a little bird

This issue's soundtrack: "Isn't it romantic" of course!!!! I picked the original rendition by Harold Stern Orchestra of this 1932 standard by Rodgers & Hart

On the next issue: The 60's the golden era


  1. Hello from Spain: great dress in black. Your doll is very trendy. The black dress is my favorite outfit. I liked the photos. Nice collection of jewelers. Keep in touch

    1. Thanks Marta! As you figured out by now, the LBD is one of my favourites too!

  2. Let me say this. Your LBJ is absolutely gorgeous. I love the choice of fabric. And yes, you are so right.....simplicity on the level of Haute Couture is never "simple." I can see how it could be confusing to figure out the silhouette of the skirt part of the dress. The Edith Head sketch is quite different than the photo of Ms. Hepburn. Still, I think you did a marvelous job at interpreting what you saw. Bravo!!! Hugs

    1. Hi April, thanks a lot! Your words are comforting, I wasn't sure I was going to post this dress, and in the end I figured that it was a decent aproximation of the real thing. I know I'm going to try again to reproduce this Givenchy line, as I love the challenge of Haute Couture "simplicity"! I need to work out a pattern for this kind of gown!!!