Roman Holiday (1953) was re-released in cinemas at the end of July. The thought of that made me revisit the film but now we’re in mid-August and this shows how delayed I am with things like that… This film is fairly iconic for Audrey Hepburn’s role in the film and Edith Head’s work as costume designer. The film concentrates on Princess Ann and Joe Bradley and, due to the limited time frame and costume changes, I’ve decided to focus on both of them.
The first time we see Bradley he’s in the middle of a poker game. His shirt collar displays true 50s style – an extended spread collar. Before he leaves the game he re-buttons his shirt, fixes his tie and puts his jacket on before leaving. There’s no way he would be seen out in Rome in the ’50s looking disheveled.
Here we have the full view of Bradley’s suit. With his hands in his pockets you can see the true height of his trousers – waisted. At the proper male waist. Also, the trousers have a fairly wide leg. And fairly wide lapels on the suit jacket. The colour of the suit is a little hard to determine due to the black and white nature of the film. (Despite the awkward colour tinted photos on the DVD cover.) The suit is clearly not black but is probably a beige gabardine or linen (being in Rome and all). This is a day suit that he is still wearing, not a tuxedo or smart evening suit. He’s a journalist working at a paper to pay the bills nothing more.
I love Bradley’s pyjamas. Love them. The traditional cut with the darker piping on the cuffs and lapels of the shirt. These pyjamas are not white (because of the colour tone difference with the pillows and bedsheets) but are clearly a lighter colour than his suit… The lightness of the pyjamas allow for a morning lightness feel even in the small cluttered apartment.
Here is a better look at his shirt and this also marks the first time he has removed his jacket since getting dressed in the morning. You can take two reasons for this. 1) He was just in the Tiber River (I think that’s the water they fell in…) 2) His relationship with Ann has changed. Up until now he was convinced that spending time with her was just to get the story and make money. But now? His feelings have changed towards her and he’s starting to fall in love with her. His barriers have started to come down and he is more approachable.
Here we have two shots of Bradley’s suit with a tweed jacket. His original suit dried but he decided to change his jacket? Was the change of jacket just connected with his softer character? The tweed cloth has more lightness visible than the previous jacket and softens his colours overall.
Bradley’s final costume of the film is this dark grey (I think) pinstriped suit. The shirt, tie and cut of the suit are all keeping in with the shape of his previous suit but this is definitely the best suit Bradley owns; apart from a tuxedo. He is appearing in front of Princess Ann in his true persona. He is dressing up for her and to let her know that her secret is safe.
(I apologise for the extremely unflattering image of Audrey Hepburn.) Our first view of Princess Ann in her first royal trip. A classic ’50s dress shape. The outfit is competed with obligatory hat and gloves. The gloves are amazing, the hat seems like it has much too wide a brim. The neckline of the dress fits with many traditional Edith Head designs.
Another royal trip and another outfit. It’s hard to comment too much about these costumes in regards Ann’s character because these all feel a little like planned outfits by her “staff” or “minders”. However they are viewed. These are the images the world has seen of the Princess rather than who she really is. This is the Princess rather than Ann.
This is for one of the funniest yet simplest scenes in the film. Now we’ve got a beautiful dress. A dress that could never be damaged in any way. The slightly dropped waist with fitted bodice and the full skirt fits perfectly with the ’50s silhouette. It’s a perfect Princess dress but it also has a little bit more youth to it than her earlier Princess costumes. This leads to allowing for the little shoe losing moment – something that a younger Princess ight do rather than a seasoned “professional”.
Princess Ann’s overly fussy nightgown. After earlier costumes that have made her look older and more mature this costume makes her look like a child. She stands on her bed, argues about bedtime, gets given a glass of milk. You’re almost waiting for Peter Pan to appear. The rows of ruffles are very delicate and pretty but very childlike. But then there’s that brooch/embroidery on the front yoke that I presume are connected to her royal family.
Ann finally has her first costume. Ann rather than Princess Ann. But currently this costume fits fairly closely with her earlier costumes – covered up so fully. We’ve got a full circle skirt with a wide belt, fully buttoned up long sleeve blouse, complete with jabot and gloves. That’s just exhausting to write let alone wear.
Wearing Bradley’s pyjamas. Although why would he have three-quarter length sleeves on the top? Hmmm. They’re very cute though. The stripe pattern works best on Ann rather than the plain ones but they still fit with the idea that they’re Bradley’s because of the traditional buttoned up shirt style.
The first costume change comes through the purchase of sandals rather than her shoes. Much more suitable for Rome but also allow Ann to have some form of interaction with “normal” people. On her own. Making her own decisions.
After having her hair cut (a major change for her) and before buying ice cream we have rolled up sleeves. This is a combination of Ann becoming more comfortable with herself and with the heat of Rome.
A scarf has appeared. But we never see from where… All of the other changes have been seen (such as the sandal purchase) or are easily understood (rolling up the sleeves). This change definitely adds some colour and interest (and was Edith Head’s way of hiding Hepburn’s “prominent collar bones”) but it would’ve been more interesting to see where it came from. Like if it was Bradley or Irving’s pocket square or hankerchief. Just something.
Same costume pieces but this time Ann’s neck is hidden even more fully. Just because Ann is used to changing clothes from day to night and this is her way of dressing up for the dance? It makes a nice change and that idea is quite telling of Ann’s character and role within her world.
Ready for her return to the embassy Ann has returned to her blouse and skirt. The jabot has still gone (too fussy for her now) and the sleeves are not rolled up anymore. Ann is resigned to returning to her royal life but she is not the same person she was before.
Our final view of Princess Ann in a softer dress. The skirt isn’t as full, the hem is much higher, the sleeves are shorter and the whole construction (despite the lace) seems less severely constructed. This is a regal dress that the earlier Princess wouldn’t have worn. She needed her day of freedom in Rome to become more comfortable with herself and confident with her role as Princess.