In a world full of Kim Kardshians, Be an Audrey

  • By The Alchemist About Town
  • 02 May, 2017

The Woman Alchemist for May : a Woman of Substance & Style

This Thursday, May 4, Audrey Hepburn would have celebrated her 88th birthday and I cannot think of any other woman that would be more fit to be The Woman Alchemist for May.

Again, I know she was not a woman in business or an entrepreneur, true;  she was, however, a woman of substance and style and, in today's world of Kim Kardashians & reality TV stars ,I cannot think about a better role model (and quite frankly I'm a bit obsessed with her and the Breakfast at Tiffany movie thing).

Hepburn had a magical screen presence, she was and still is a fashion trend-setter, always displaying impeccable good taste and manners, and a tireless campaigner for children's rights. She is best-known for her film roles in Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday and Charade - waif-like, glamorous, combining charm, effervescence and grace.

Hepburn was born in Brussels to a Dutch mother and an English father, and later attended boarding school in England. Her father left the family when she was only six years old, probably one the most traumatic event of her life, as she often quoted, which left her with a perennial need for that paternal affection and stability.

When War II was starting Hepburn and her mother moved to Holland which was unfortunate as, shortly after they arrived, the Nazis invaded. Winter of 1944-1945 was a very difficult year in Holland and thousands of people suffered starvation including Hepburn who was left severely malnourished with acute anaemia and respiratory problems.
She carried a sense of duty and gratitude for having survived all her life.

Her experience during childhood and the war contributed to a maturity way beyond her years but simultaneously left her in a state of arrested development: wartime poverty and hunger remained always a present memory and she always felt the need to work harder. “She didn’t go to work to become a celebrity,” her son Luca Dotti once said  “She went to work to earn money. And that was the spirit she kept all her life.”

She began appearing on the London stage from 1948, then gradually small parts in films and, in 1951, the lead role in Gigi on Broadway . The next project though is what catapulted her into Hollywood and our consciousness: Roman Holiday (1953) for which she won her only Oscar.

This film started her particular look, the flat-chested/gamine , winged eyebrows that made her stand out which then progressed with Sabrina  (1954) where her collaboration with the designer Hubert de Givenchy commenced (perhaps the beginning of the modern world of celebrities collars ); they became close friends, both sharing the same work and life ethic.
 
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)  is what finally cemented her iconic status .
Truman Capote, the author of the novella the movie is based on, wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the leading role, he
thought Monroe was more suited to a sexy and utterly neurotic Holly Golightly, his character.
Paramount wanted Hepburn over Monroe,and this clinched it.

Hepburn's performance was effervescent (less controversial that an actual rendition of the novella would have been and more optimistic and perhaps better suited to the morale pulse of the era): it is however the iconic image of Holly herself – the little black dress, black gloves, the multiple strands of pearls, a tiara and a foot-long cigarette holder that has long since transcended the film: you may never have seen Breakfast at Tiffany's (shame on you) but you have certainly seen pictures of Audrey Hepburn in THAT outfit. 

The fact that she didn't act more frequently in later life might have had something  to do with the material she was offered or perhaps it was a choice , nevertheless it was a shame since she was a strong actor with both a capacity for comedy but also for serious drama (I loved her performance in The Nun's Story   (1959), Wait Until Dark (1967)and  Robin and Marian   (1976) with Sean Connery).

Her life call though and what gave her the most satisfaction came in 1988 when Hepburn was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef   : she worked hard for it, constantly informing herself as she understood the power and positive effect her name and presence would have. According to her son Luca Dotti "her humanitarian awards were displayed proudly in the sitting room whilst her Oscar for Roman Holiday was wedged on a shelf in his playroom'.
It was after a Unicef trip to Somalia that Hepburn was diagnosed with cancer and died peacefully surrounded by her family in January 1993 - the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund continues her legacy.

I strongly believe that she provided and still does a great role model for women. Hepburn never really believed she was beautiful carrying those insecurities that we as women suffer from time to time, but nevertheless developed her own unique look .
Audrey knew exactly how she wanted to look or what worked best for her, she knew her visage and body, her best and worse points and inspired women to dress for themselves : her look was both sophisticated and attainable, European elegance with American easiness. She was an original who changed the way women dressed and viewed themselves, like Coco Chanel ( another one of my heroes and The Woman Alchemist for January) ; she broadened the idea of  beauty, of being less blatantly sexy,  more wordily and truly modern, a role model for women that was not a reflection of men fantasies , a truly empowering message.

This is more important than ever in a overly and blatantly sexualised world where young women look up to an idealised and photo-shopped reality that is presented on the TV screens and social media.

So in a world of Kim Kardashians, Be Courageous, Do You, Be an Audrey.




The People Alchemist Blog

By The Alchemist About Town 22 Sep, 2017
I am so utterly delighted that my book is now out, available to order both on paperback and on Kindle edition just in time for Business Women's Day - YES!!!!!! :-) 

STOP IT! It's all in your head   is my labour of love and my way to encourage, inspire and empower women to achieve what they want professionally and not be confined by societal, religious, family paradigms of what " women should do/are like" and, most importantly, the restrictions in their head.
If that is being CEO of a Global Company or a stay-at-mum or Director of Paperclip ( whatever grabs your fancy) so be it.

Writing this book was also a personal challenge ( the 30 days thingy) which confirmed to me once and for all that you can really do whatever you set your mind to, if you really want to that is.

Couple of tips for writing a book from me:
  • write about what you are passionate about, you know more than you think.
  • free-write about the parts/chapters in the book you like the most and you are most interested in first - that will give you a great boost at the beginning - you can edit and add the boring bits later - by then most of the book will be almost there
  • keep your own voice - write as you speak so to speak ( people do need to understand you though..)
  • keep an open mind, ideas will flow into you mid-way through the project
  • a deadline and going public is good to beat procrastination ( but if that stresses you out too much don't do it) - the deadline certainly helped me.
You can do it too!!!

If anyone would like to be part of the book launch, the event is live on Eventbrite and you can buy an Early Bird ticket now:
SMASH YOUR CEILING - #STOPITBookLaunch 
Thursday 12 October at 18.30
Business Design Centre
Islington
London

To pre- e-meet other super fab women in business attending the event, please use the following hashtags:
#SMASHYOURCEILING
#STOPITBookLaunch
#BDCWorks

I'm so excited about this book and I genuinely hope you will like it- I hope to meet you soon, in person or through the pages of my book.

Laura x


#Hustle #GirlBoss #SmashThatCeiling
  #SmashYourCeiling
STOP IT! It's all in your head 
#dreambig #believe #youcan



By The Alchemist About Town 19 Sep, 2017
The time is getting closer and closer to the release of   STOP IT, It's all in your head   my new book ( 22 September for Business Women's Day - US) .

I have now  received the proof copy of the paperback which looks absolutely fabulous: a couple of things to correct but overall I am super happy with the result.
A lot of marketing to do now between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ ( which is PS: looking like more work than the actual writing of the book).

The book event/launch/talk is live on Eventbrite and you can buy an Early Bird ticket now:
SMASH YOUR CEILING - #STOPITBookLaunch 
Thursday 12 October at 18.30
Business Design Centre
Islington
London

To pre- e-meet other super fab women in business attending the event, please use the following hashtags:
#SMASHYOURCEILING
#STOPITBookLaunch
#BDCWorks

I'm so excited about this book and I genuinely hope you will like it.

Laura x


#Hustle #GirlBoss #SmashThatCeiling
  #SmashYourCeiling
STOP IT! It's all in your head 
#dreambig #believe #youcan



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