My Fair Well-Clothed Lady

     Frederick Loewe and Alan J. Lerner deserve recognition still today for their 1964 Academy Award musical My Fair Lady. The musical scoring alone has and will create timeless memories for many generations. George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, lent itself perfectly for an adaptation to a musical. He created a romance without romantic involvement.

     While the music and acting in My Fair Lady were outstanding, Eliza's (Audrey Hepburn) wardrobe really caught my attention. The dark scruffy clothing she wore, while selling flowers in the street, helped to fulfill the "poor girl" image that otherwise might have been lost if she wore a perfectly matched pink suit.

     Eliza's cleaned-up image, following the first bath, was emphasized fairly well with the dress she wore. I think it might have been even more dramatic if Eliza had come down the stairs in the Japanese dress, noted in Pygmalion, that Higgins had brought back from abroad. This type of colorful silk covering might have made the transformation from "guttersnipe" to elegant lady more believable even sooner.

     The neatly pressed jumpers and hair bows Audrey wore during Eliza's "training period" were perfect for the school girl image. This contrasted greatly with the outlandish attire at Ascot. The large hats and striking black and white colors created the implied image of a snobbish high society set that cannot see beyond the end of their nose. Pastel colors and denims would not have created this contrast nearly as well.

     As the story unfolded, the building up to a dramatic scene at the Embassy ballroom seemed inevitable. I waited with great anticipation for the beautiful gown Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) would be wearing to her first major public event. While the gown itself was beautiful, I was sadly disappointed. Audrey Hepburn's aristocratic features were so washed out in the cream-colored dress that the "Cinderella" image I had expected for Eliza was not forthcoming.

     Eliza's favorite flowers throughout the story seemed to be a deep blue violet that I had expected to be reflected in the ballroom gown. Audrey Hepburn's classical features and dark hair could have been contrasted beautifully against a deep blue shimmering sequined gown.

     One of my favorite dresses was the peach, silk trimmed suit Audrey Hepburn wore when Eliza was leaving to join Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Jeremy Brett). The detailing on that suit set Eliza's character apart from all others. It is often amazing how clothing can make a difference in a person's image. By the end of the movie, Eliza was oozing confidence with every step she took.

     While Audrey Hepburn did an excellent job of creating a confident Eliza from an insecure flower girl, Katharine Hepburn will always be my idol. Katharine Hepburn kept the ladylike image in her movie character even with leeches all over her in African Queen and during an extensive family illness in On Golden Pond. I wish some of the girls I see today could experience the uplifting spirit of dressing attractively and being admired. Skimpy clothing with tears and holes will not give a girl the respect she needs to build confidence in herself to handle whatever life brings. Katharine and Audrey Hepburn could not have earned the respect of their peers if they had worn raggedy clothing and shouted profanity as I see many girls doing today.

Julie Kinder

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