There is no dearth of books about fashion available for reading or just perusing. Most of those, however, are books intended for an adult audience, so I am always delighted to find a “fashion book” written and illustrated for children. I have always found that these books written for children are of equal delight for adults, and especially so when said adult can share them with an interested child or grandchild.
For Audrey with love: Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy, by Philip Hopman is just such a book.
Written originally in Dutch and published in the Netherlands in 2016, this book was translated into English and published in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in 2018. Philip Hopman is not only the author, he is also the illustrator. His whimsical drawings are captivating both for their fashion sense and for their charming renditions of Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy.
This is truly a story of friendship, but of friendship born out of a shared appreciation of beautiful clothing, Givenchy being, of course, the designer of those stunning clothes, and Audrey Hepburn being the client. She was the one who could wear his designs like no other!
By the time they met, Givenchy was already a sought after designer, with an impressive roster of clients. Among those clients were Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, Wallis Simpson, and many others.
He initially claimed that he had no time to design for the rising movie star, but once she tried on a few of his clothes, he realized she was the perfect fit for his designs, both in style and in essence. They became best friends, with a lasting connection and concern for each other that transcended the clothes. Audrey was known to have said “When I wear his [Givenchy’s] clothes, I feel safe. I’m not afraid of anything.”
This is a sweet book, but the success of such a children’s book is how it is received by this younger audience. Does it engage them? Does it tell a story that is meaningful to them? Does it start a conversation? Does it spark imagination? Is it a book that can be read over and over and still be enjoyed?
I purchased this book specifically for my two granddaughters’ visit with us this summer. These are two little girls (currently six and four years of age) who like clothes and like dresses, so I felt fairly certain they would like this book. What I wasn’t prepared for was how well it captured their imagination. Before we even got to the title page, they were immersed in the lining pages.
They looked at the silhouette of each dress, loved the wide-brimmed hat with the white streamers, and decided the red dress was the one they liked the best.
Each page brought new delights for them, and they picked out their favorite designs as we read through the text. We talked about how sometimes dreams don’t come true (when young, Audrey wanted to be a ballet dancer, but was told she was too tall, and her feet were too big!) But we decided when one dream is crushed, there are other ones to pursue. We talked about friendship, and we talked about how important it is to care for other people, no matter how busy and famous one might be.
But mostly, we talked about the clothes! And that red dress? Little four-year-old Carolina asked me if I will make that dress for her some day. How can I refuse such a request? Of course, I said YES.