5 in the morning, Fifth Avenue in New York… The city that never sleeps, in Edwards’ film stretches like a cat which, after intensive hunt, waits calmly for the second breakfast and quick sleep. On the horizon of the metropolis hungry for life, this morning extremely sleepy, the Princess of the Night appears – she gets out of a yellow cab dressed in an evening dress and stunning jewelry. Gracefully consumes a bun from a paper bag, sips coffee from a takeaway cup, her hungry eyes devour jewels on the Tiffany & Co.’s shop window. This urban sunrise, waking up with the glow of the jewelry, brings her relief…
Like from the picture but not from the template
When you hear Audrey Hepburn’s name you automatically think: icon. This British actress born in Belgium (some time ago also ballerina with ambitions) made the audience fall for her with the film “Roman Holiday” (1953), where she played princess Anna. This role gave her many awards, including Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA to name just a few. The audience recognized in Audrey an “actor boletus” and appreciated her original, unconventional beauty. She was liked in particular by young women, as an alternative to ostentatious sex appeal of such stars as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and later also Marilyn Monroe. But it was Blake Edwards’ film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), a loose adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel of the same title, finally made Hepburn the style icon of all times. I’m sure that as a true Magpie you know this title well – it is as recognizable as the cult blue box from the jewelry giant.
Luxurious escort girl
In “Breakfast…” Audrey Hepburn played the role of extravagant party girl from Manhattan, Holly Golightly – actually a girl from a province, whose every day, or every night, meant accompanying “rats” – men with shallow instincts, greedily investing their dollars in the proverbial kiss at midnight. But in the protagonist’s life Paul Varjak appears, a new neighbor she quickly becomes friends with. A writer with a block who himself is a lover of a woman older from him, falls in love in the carefree girl who is so expressive and has so many faces that she could inspire countless literary characters. How do you win a heart of a woman who, wanting all that is glamour, fears being closed in a “golden cage”?
Paradise to conquer
The impersonation of Holly’s economic ideals is Tiffany & Co. jewelry salon on Fifth Avenue – the place where nothing bad can happen and which is a remedy to deep depression. “I have finally found out what helps me the most” – says Holly in the book. “You jump into a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness, the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. Not from those people in elegant suits and wonderful scent of silver and snake leather wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.
That girl’s pearls
During his first visit at Tiffany’s Paul asks the shop assistant to engrave Holly’s initials on a ring found in the pack of Cracker Jacks. It is said that the filmmakers dug through over two hundred of packs before they finally found the prize – “surprise” – this is a complete Magpie determination. The engagement potential was beaten by the pearl necklace which Holly Golightly presents in the film’s opening scene. It sure must have electrified all Magpies, paradoxically much more than the simple trinket thrown at the protagonist at the goodbye, in a dramatic finale.
This only a minute-long, lazy walk in front of jeweler’s window entered the iconic canon of film and fashion history as a timeless visual quote. The black gown from Hubert de Givenchy modified a bit by outstanding costume designer Edith Head, turned upside down what was so far considered as glamour. While Coco Chanel made the idea of little black dress popular in 1926, it was in the 60s when Holly Golightly gave women back the faith in simplicity and class of clothes available without gigantic investment – almost every woman was able to afford an ascetic black dress.
Accessories? This is a different story. Dazzling pearl necklace tied in front with a brooch, cascaded from the actresses’ neck accentuating the dress at the same time. It was created by Roger Scemama, Givenchy fashion house designer. In the “Breakfast…” promotion materials we could see Holly in Jean Schlumberger’s (jeweler at Tiffany & Co.) necklace whose heart was the largest canary diamond of that time (128.54 ct). “Before her, only one woman wore it on the neck – senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s wife at the Tiffany Ball in 1957” – we read in the book “Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.” by Sam Wasson. The necklace appeared for a while in the glass case in the scene filmed inside the shop. Holly said then that wearing diamonds before turning forty would be tacky… Do you agree, Magpie?
Camera! Action! Or filmmakers in a china shop
You need to know that “Breakfast…” was the first film to get the permission to film inside TIffany’s salons. “After six long months of dragging negotiations with Tiffany’s & Corporation boss, Walter Hoving, a fickle man known for his stubbornness, Martin Jurow (film producer) got the guarantee that they would be let inside to film one of the scenes.
Unfortunately he only had Audrey to trade. He understands well, he asserts Hoving, that such a venture represents a logistical challenge and a nightmare for insurance company – letting the crew inside to shoot among the most valuable gems on the planet – but on the other hand, for Tiffany & Co. it was a unique promotion opportunity. And indeed, the filmmakers were right. There is no “Breakfast …” without Tiffany, and the brand itself, which dates back to 1837, has forever fused its fate with Arch-Magpie Golightly.
Holly found at Tiffany a safe haven, whose transparent diamond surroundings were meant to have the gift of washing up the night’s sediment. The gold cage, which hid the perfect specimens, was not, however, a real home for the full-blooded, cracked protagonist. Closing in it, or in a dream about what it represented meant a run from herself – a Texas girl who has nightmares, sings nostalgic songs on the window, loves her nameless cat, and maybe also Paul Varjak?
Late evening, New York rainy avenues. In the city that seemingly never sleeps a red cat is lurking – a moment earlier it got thrown out of a cab. There probably won’t be any supper, no blissful nap. Few meows, looking for a shelter among wooden crates… And a surprise – on the horizon of the wet metropolis a Princess appears again, moon river of tears mixed with rain on her face – these are the most authentic, hurting specimens of the world. Frantically searches the alley and suddenly… The wet joy of two lost creatures, which again found themselves. Here we have our little happy end and Prince from upstairs…
Cheap Cracker Jack ring with initials engraved by Tiffany’s became suddenly the one in the world.