When I ask people about their experience of NYC, they usually say: “It’s a magnificent city, simply overwhelming, but I’ve felt so lonely there.” Holly Golightly, the main character of Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) could say exactly the same thing.
Trivia: Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the role of Holly Golightly. He was very disappointed that the studio cast Hepburn (source: 10 things you never knew about Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
To my mind, Hepburn (1929-1993) fits in this role just as much as she does fit in that iconic little black dress by Hubert de Givenchy. It was made for her.
When Paul (Holly’s neighbour and an aspiring writer) begins to type the first sentence of his novel, we have no doubts whom he writes about: “There was once a very lovely, a very frightened girl“. Paul’s character is based on the novella’s narrator, “Fred”. The movie does not tell us too much about Holly’s past, but we know she is running away from something or somebody. In the novella, Holly is only 18, alone in a big city, accompanying wealthy men at parties, perhaps dreaming to marry one of them.
In the movie, Holly wears big hats, sunglasses and the most adorable sleep eyemask you’ll ever see, as if she wanted to hide herself, or was scared that the people will see through her when they look her in the eyes:
“She’d come completely into the room now, and she paused there, staring at me. I’d never seen her before not wearing dark glasses, and it was obvious now that they were prescription lenses, for without them her eyes had an assessing squint, like a jeweler’s. They were large eyes, a little blue, a little green, dotted with bits of brown: vari-colored, like her hair; and, like her hair, they gave out a lively warm light.” (source)
For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where,during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment. It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular redvelvet that one associates with hot days on a tram. The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit. Everywhere, in the bathroom too, there were prints of Roman ruins freckled brown with age. The single window looked out on a fire escape. Even so, my spirits heightened whenever I felt in my pocketthe key to this apartment; with all its gloom, it still was a place of my own, the first, and my books were there, and jars ofpencils to sharpen, everything I needed, so I felt, to become the writer I wanted to be. (source)
When Holly visits Fred in his flat (sneaking in through the window), she calls the place “a chamber of horrors”. In the movie, Paul’s apartment is much more pleasant.
The film is full of early 1960s’ home decor and fashion trends. For me, absolutely nothing can beat a clawfoot bathtub sofa. Click on the image below to read an article on how to make a sofa like this on your own.
… the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name! (source)