Fashion Icon: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn's timeless chic continues to intrigue and inspire us writes Georgina Heffernan.

No one has captured the hearts of the fashion industry more than Audrey Hepburn. For decades, her clean style sensibility and radiant grace have inspired the likes of Hubert de Givenchy, Salvatore Ferragamo and Isaac Mizrahi, all of whom have tried at some point to translate her spirit into their clothing and accessories.

Even after her death in 1993, her status as a style icon still remains. Mary Quant called her the "most stylish woman who ever lived". Hubert de Givenchy said she was "a gift from on high". Gregory Peck called her unique and Steven Spielberg considered her an angel. Today she still influences major stars, such as Victoria Beckham, Johnny Depp and the Olsen twins who have named her as a major influence.

Even at the height of her career, when she was universally reckoned to be the most beautiful woman in the world, Audrey Hepburn thought she was "funny looking - just another skinny broad" with crooked teeth, thick eyebrows, a bony collarbone, flat chest and huge eight-and-a-half size feet.

"I never thought I'd land in pictures," she once said, "with a face like mine." But whatever part she played, her physical appearance was always captivating. From her first appearance as Princess Anne in Roman Holiday, those huge doe eyes seemed to take up the whole screen, and I couldn't get enough of that gentle voice with the sweet, staccato enunciation.

But it was her performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's that really made people sit up and take notice. Her pearl choker and gloves may have set off the outfit perfectly. But it was Audrey Hepburn's little black dress that became an icon. And, despite the passage of time, the stunning frock the movie star wore in that film in 1961 has stayed firmly in fashion.

In a poll of 3,000, more than 75 per cent named it as the most influential garment in fashion history. She was the epitome of 1950’s glamour - the decade where style was born - a time when elegance was the cornerstone of fashion. Whether in a black cocktail dress, or jeans, a turtleneck and flats, she always looked impeccable. But what was it about her timeless look that makes her so impossible to forget?

Ask a woman to name her fashion icon, and the answer is likely to be Audrey Hepburn. The elegant actress simply was "haute couture," writes Melissa Hellstern in How to Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life. "Her style, and its evolution, simultaneously defies and defines fashion," she writes. "Hers was a closet built on quality, not quantity. The pieces were deceptively simple - a black dress, a white wrap blouse, a tasteful suit. Not always the latest, simply the best." In this age of austerity, somehow that makes perfect sense today. And with fifties inspired style making a comeback this spring, there’s never been a better time to invest in a little Audrey inspired style.

Check out the gallery for some of our favourite ways to put a little Hepburn in your step...