FILM COSTUME REVIEW
Two For the Road
Run time: 1h 51mins
Who: Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney
Where: Free to watch on YouTube
Rating: Charming and retro
When most people think of Audrey Hepburn on screen, the iconic opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s comes to mind.
In her black dress, dark sunglasses and long opera gloves, Hepburn gazes into the window of Tiffany and Co, sipping coffee and eating a pastry.
But this is only one of her enduring cinematic images.
Decades after her death, Hepburn continues to be one of the most popular actresses of all time. With movies such as My Fair Lady, Sabrina and Roman Holiday to her name, several of her on-screen outfits are burned into the general public’s brains.
In fact, she has such flair that even her lesser-known films are packed with fabulous clothes. 1967’s Two For the Road is such a film.
Directed by Stanley Donen (of Singin’ in the Rain fame), the plot concerns Joanna (Hepburn) and Mark Wallace (Albert Finney). On a road trip to the South of France, they reflect on the 12 years of their relationship. The movie’s non-linear structure adds an interesting touch, as scenes of the duo’s lovestruck younger selves are followed with talk of infidelity and their young daughter.
For people who do not watch many old movies, Two For the Road might not ring any bells. This is a shame because it features a plethora of great mid-20th century outfits.
Hepburn’s younger self circa 1955 is more understated, swathed in midi-skirts and simple long-sleeved tops. Her hair is shoulder-length, often worn with a headband. Finney also looks quite different from his 1967 self; his practical flannel shirts suit his perpetually road-bound character, and his colour palette is light, dominated by blues and whites. Watching these kids in their honeymoon phase is a delight.
As they get older, Finney becomes increasingly stuffy. Gone are the light colours and relatively casual garments, replaced with dark suits. His wealth combined with his success have driven him to focus more on business than pleasure, which makes sense given that later parts of the timeline centre on a business trip to Rome. Although Hepburn’s new style is more eye-catching, Finney’s makes perfect sense.
Sixties Hepburn is more voguish, and looks less timeless than her younger self. This is most evident in her colour palette, featuring bright yellows, greens and reds, while her ’55 wardrobe is dominated by softer blues, blacks and subtler reds.
Her clothes cover a wide range of ’60s trends, with styles that go from colourful stripes to knitted beach wear, from bug-eye sunglasses to mini dresses.
She is shown wearing garments from various fashion designers: a PVC suit by Michèle Rosier, Ken Scott bathing suits and an André Courrèges miniskirt, to name a few.
There is one ensemble that outshines all the rest, pun somewhat intended. Towards the end of the movie, Hepburn steps into a party wearing a gorgeous mini-dress. Paco Rabanne’s so-called “unwearable dress” is a visual wonder, made up of dozens of little silver disks. The look is elevated by Hepburn’s matching drop earrings, makeup with a quintessentially ’60s eye crease and Vidal Sassoon-esque hairstyle.
These outfits are wonderful to see on the screen. A lot of films with contemporary settings have fairly bland costume design to avoid looking dated, but this one immerses itself in the fashions of its time, unafraid of looking silly or tacky. Even if you personally don’t care for ’60s style, that is worth respecting.
There are few actresses as iconic as Audrey Hepburn, and for a good reason: she had several instantly recognisable images to her name. Although Breakfast at Tiffany’s features her most famous look, Two For the Road is worth watching for some truly beautiful late-’60s style moments.