Sons of Audrey Hepburn, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer, have collaborated with The National Portrait Gallery this summer to produce an insightful photographic exhibition, entitled Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon which is now running until 18th October 2015. Featuring many of Hepburn’s signature movies – from her first Hollywood smash hit “Roman Holiday” (1953) to 60s classic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) – this is the first exhibition of its kind, organised by a British gallery with the support of the Audrey Hepburn Estate.
The series of 35 photographs begin in 1938 with the star as a young girl of 9 harbouring strong aspirations to be a famous dancer; even at this tender age, her striking looks and poise are already evident. Through the chronology of her stage, and later film career, the exhibition shows how Hepburn consciously establishes her image to become one of most enduring style icons of the 20th century. Wonderfully, this is shown from both sides of the camera, or curtain, with dressing rooms shots from “Gigi” on Broadway (1951), to mesmerizing full costume portraits showing her dazzling character transformation in “Funny Face” (1957).
The exhibition is both an opportunity to see previously undisclosed shots of Hepburn, as well as marvel at the talents of the many renowned photographers she captivated over the decades. This begins with Antony Beauchamp and Angus McBean who first discovered Hepburn during her London stage debut in 1948, whose resulting portraits launched Hepburn’s face on to the society pages.
The interplay of fashion and film structures much of the narrative, both key ingredients in Hepburn’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune. The exhibition particularly draws on the influence the brand Givenchy has on the actress, which began on the set of “Sabrina“ (1954) nd blossomed into life long friendship with the couture designer. Cecil Beaton also features prominently both for his photography, and also for his fashion design – Beaton designed all the monochrome outfits for “My Fair Lady” in 1964 drawing theatrically on the changing trends of the period.
The exhibition goes on to catalogue Hepburn’s eventual move away from the limelight in the 70s and 80s, as her focus becomes family, and later philanthropic work with children’s international charity UNICEF. This exhibition truly is a unique opportunity to experience, in visual splendour, each defining stage of Hepburn’s life and career.
View the Gallery’s selection of original Audrey Hepburn posters and photographs here.