The "Tea At Tiffany’s — A Champagne Brunch with Audrey Hepburn” event takes place Saturday, May 11, at the Woman’s Club of Winter Park.
Most people are at least slightly familiar with the career and fashion of movie star Audrey Hepburn, who captured hearts and minds in the mid- to late-20th century.
Ryan Frazier isn’t most people. The costume designer is deeply acquainted with Hepburn’s fashion sensibilities — she said she has watched her movies hundreds of times throughout her life.
“Audrey Hepburn is one of, if not the, most iconic actresses of our time,” she said. “I’m stunned at how she translates through all the generations, no matter how old or how young, everyone loves Audrey and wants to emulate her style.”
Frazier, with the help of Fashion Historian and Florida Fashion Theatre Associate Producer Bonnie Hansen, will display that authentic fashion attire with their “Tea At Tiffany’s — A Champagne Brunch with Audrey Hepburn” Saturday, May 11, at the Woman’s Club of Winter Park. Guests will enjoy an interactive fashion show with models sporting authentic recreations of Hepburn’s iconic clothing followed by a theatrical choreography from one of her movies.
“It’s going to combine fashion and music and dance and a little bit of theater,” Frazier said. “I’m very proud of this and am so excited to share this with you.”
Frazier spent decades working on costumes and design for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, including the first Star Trek movies with her godfather Gene Roddenberry and more. After leaving the movie studio, she lived in Switzerland and attempted to retire to Florida but soon grew bored.
"My best friend was telling me, ‘You’ve got to get back to work,’” Frazier said. “She asked me a profound question: ‘If you could design for anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be?’ And I said, ‘Aubrey Hepburn, duh.’ And that’s what sparked my imagination, how I would go about doing it.”
Frazier’s Audrey Hepburn line was shown at a fashion show before being presented with a perfume line last year. It inspired Frazier to do more in the Orlando community, and she joined up with Hansen, a Winter Park resident and owner of Vintage Nouveau Fashions from the Past, to create May’s brunch event more than a year ago.
“I think it’s going to be the talk of the town,” Hansen said. “You can see Audreys everywhere. She’s an enduring image all the world over.”
The show has authentic reproductions from four iconic films of Hepburn’s career: The little black dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the ball gown from “Sabrina,” and the vespa ride from “Roman Holiday” all will be worn by models followed by a live choreography performance of the wedding gown dance from “Funny Face.”
Clips from each film will be played to prime the audience and show the accuracy of the recreations. The models also will have authentic jewelry and accessories — such as Hepburn’s iconic pearl necklace — some of which is provided by an Audrey Hepburn organization.
“Tea at Tiffany’s” also will have some assistance from the Central Florida arts community. Theresa Smith-Levin, chief executive director of Central Florida Vocal Arts, will sing “Moon River” by Hepburn, and dance instructor and choreographer Billy Bowser will do a step-for-step Fred Astaire choreography for the “Funny Face” production.
Putting the show together has taken more than a year, Frazier said. She put most of her time into scriptwriting and directing.
Frazier believes the key to Hepburn’s enduring popularity is an elegant, less-is-more approach that appeals to people of all walks of life. She said a woman can simply pull her hair back, put on sunglasses, a big hat and a little black dress and be ready to go.
“She is the one who gave us the term, ‘Little Black Dress,’ and I can’t imagine there’s a woman in Orlando who doesn’t have a little black dress in her closet,” she said. “It’s been 60 years now, and we’re still talking about ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’”
A portion of the event’s ticket sales will benefit Central Florida Vocal Arts.
There’s an extensive process bringing Hepburn’s iconic looks to life — and it all starts with a pencil and piece of paper.
“I put the movie on and I freeze-frame it, then I actually draw the dress,” Frazier said. “I have 40 years of costume design, so I actually draft the pattern then I choose the fabric. … I call (connections in L.A.) and say, ‘Hey, do we have the fabric? Do we know where we got it?’ And I can backtrack. Sometimes, I can get the original fabric.”
She said she watches each movie three times — first for visual effect to get an idea, second for content to see why people care about the design and third to see how the dress hangs on the body.
From there, Frazier sends the design and fabric to her salon in Switzerland to actually put the piece together fit to specifications. Depending on the complexity of the clothing, it can take five days to six weeks for a piece to be completed. At times, she has returned dresses to her salon because she feels it hasn’t completely captured the authenticity of the original designs.
This part is important — Frazier believes there are few craftspeople who can compare to the Swiss.
“Much of the gowns back then were done by hand … they didn’t have the machinery,” Frazier said. “To get the look, you have to do a lot by hand. I find the Swiss workmanship is the best in the world. … If I look at it and believe it’s Audrey Hepburn’s dress, I say it’s good to go.”
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11
WHERE: The Woman’s Club of Winter Park, 419 S. Interlachen Ave, Winter Park
COST: Tickets start at $75