One morning in 1953, a slip of a girl turned up at the atelier of Hubert de Givenchy, one of a group of young fashion designers striving to put Paris back on the map as the post-war capital of fashion.
She was wafer-thin with short dark hair, thick eyebrows and huge eyes. She wore narrow black capri pants with ballet pumps, a t-shirt and a gondolier’s hat with the word Venezia written on the band.
She wasn’t what young M. Givenchy had been expecting at all, so at first he was disappointed. He’d been waiting for the famous Hollywood superstar Miss Katherine Hepburn. But the end of lunch, a partnership that would last until Audrey Hepburn’s death — and for cinephiles for eternity — had been formed.
Hubert de Givenchy would design Audrey Hepburn’s clothes for all her films from then on. From Sabrina’s boat-neck dress to Holly Golightly’s black satin sheath to everything in Funny Face — Givenchy helped bring out the princess, the cheeky gamine and the gracious lady in Hepburn.
Many of her most famous roles are about physical transformation. In Roman Holiday — which she had just finished making, but for which she had not yet won an Oscar — Hepburn is transformed from cardboard princess to living, breathing girl; in Sabrina she is changed from chauffeur’s daughter to glamour queen; in My Fair Lady, it’s flower-seller to aristocrat; and in Funny Face she changes from shop clerk to supermodel. All of these transformations are wrought through appearance. In Breakfast At Tiffany’s, we meet Holly Golightly after she’s metamorphosed from hick to city slicker.
On the set of Sabrina, director Billy Wilder was so taken by how this newcomer looked through the lens of a camera, that the really big star, Humphrey Bogart, complained: the only part of him being shot was the back of his head. The camera loved her — and Hepburn has a classic set of astrological signatures for this. The Moon in Pisces Rising gives her that luminosity, the beautiful eyes, the mystery, but it rises to Aquarius, so there is her common touch. But that Moon is also opposite Neptune, the Lord of illusion, glamour and Hollywood itself. Neptune is in Royal Leo — hence perhaps her transformations from commoner to royalty, pauper to princess, shopgirl to supermodel. This is the axis of common Aquarius and royal Leo at work in her chart.
In the year she met Givenchy, won her first Oscar and became the highest paid woman in Hollywood, the nodes were in Aquarius and Leo.
Destiny was at work on that early summer day. Not only were these two young people — both on the cusp of superstardom in their respective fields — destined to work and inspire each other for the rest of their careers, they would become loyal, life-long friends.
“Givenchy’s creations always gave me a sense of security and confidence,” Hepburn once explained, “and my work went more easily in the knowledge that I looked absolutely right. I felt the same at my private appearances. Givenchy’s outfits gave me ‘protection’ against strange situations and people. I felt so good in them.”
Look at what Hubert de Givenchy’s chart does with Hepburn’s. First of all, we can see that he’s an uber-Pisces with a Moon in the fashion sign, Libra. Unfortunately there’s no birth time. But look how all that imaginative, dreaming Pisces energy occupies Hepburn’s first house, the house which shows how we present ourselves to the world.
Hepburn’s Pisces Moon could potentially make her very vulnerable — indeed that vulnerability is what makes her screen presence so compelling. Givenchy’s powerful Jupiter (in domicile) sits right on that Moon — expanding her luminous, lunar beauty, but it also receives an exact square from his natal Saturn in Sagittarius (Jupiter’s other sign). There’s the protection. Saturn actually gives Givenchy’s natal Jupiter propulsion. Givenchy was ambitious, hard-working, kind, punctual.
In this way, the two young people matched. Hepburn was also famously kind, punctual and considerate, forced to grow up fast when she was a child in the war, and apparently almost starved to death — note her Saturn at 0° Capricorn. Her Saturn, though, makes an exact sextile to Givenchy’s Sun, perhaps a sign of how he would literally hang his creations on her frame.
“She gave a life to the clothes—she had a way of installing herself in them,” Givenchy described the first time Hepburn tried on the divine Sabrina suit. “The suit just adapted to her. Something magic happened. Suddenly she felt good—you could feel her excitement, her joy.”
Givenchy’s imaginative Venus in Pisces makes an exact semi-sextile to Hepburn’s Venus in Aries: she breathed the living fire of life into his dreamy clothes.
One of the most striking things now, more than half a century after that meeting, after Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Paris When It Sizzles, Funny Face — is that everywhere you look, le style Audrey is back on the streets. My 14-year old daughter, like every other teenage girl it seems, wears highwaisted capri pants, little t-shirts, a messy bun and pencils in fierce, bold eyebrows. Street fashion has dictated little flat shoes since around 2010, indeed since planet fashion went into Pisces and maybe reminded us that the simple, elegant lines of Hubert de Givenchy will never lose their grace.
And this year, Givenchy’s own fashion house has finally made a return to haute couture under the guidance of the brilliant Clare Waight Keller — yes, she does have North Node on Givenchy’s Sun and Venus-Uranus close to his Moon (give or take a few degrees without BT.)
Hubert de Givenchy died on March 10 with Saturn and the Moon on his South Node in Capricorn, and Chiron on that interesting Uranus — but Uranus’ influence on fashion is for another article…
This piece first appeared in The Astrological Journal.