Sometimes, the Hollywood makeover is Hollwood at its absolute worst – examples: the Cinderella/prostitution-redemption epic that is Pretty Woman, the way they just took the glasses off a pretty girl in ‘She’s All That’…
But, sometimes Hollywood makeovers are the best.
Audrey Hepburn carried off this trope with gorgeous dignity: in Roman Holiday, she runs away from royal duties, cuts her hair off, and hangs out with Italian crooks and a drunk American journalist for a couple of days. She eats ice-cream, its sunny… we know she made the right choice.
In Sabrina (the 1954 romance, not the teenage witch) Audrey goes through one of the loveliest make-overs ever seen. Its sort of sweet and quaint and old-fashioned, with just a little hint of revenge… She begins the movie as the young daughter of the chauffeur on a wealthy American estate, in love with William Holden, the rich playboy son of the family. It’s all very inappropriate and everybody with a stiff upper lip is terribly embarrassed. She mopes around in a very child-like chequered dress with long sleeves and a swingy ponytail. Eventually Sabrina is ‘sent’ to Paris to get over her obsession, study how to make a good souffle, and learn to be ‘in the world, and of the world’, as she so carefully puts it.
Ofcourse, when she gets home she is devestatingly chic (which happens in Paris, like osmosis).
William Holden is now very interested indeed, and Audrey tries to play it cool and be all grown-up (although she’s secretly delighted). The little flurry of romance between them leads to a scene in the family’s tennis courts, in which Audrey waits for him in a spectacular Givency gown for some night-time champagne. Alas, it’s Humphrey Bogart (the older brother) who shows up instead…
Honorary mention must go to Brittany Murphy in Clueless: my original inspiration for many an early teenage make-over (I was probably about 10 when I first saw that film. I knew no better). The severing of the t-shirt, the blood-red dying of the hair, its just feral in the way that only a peer-pressured adolescent acceptance ritual can be.