Audrey Hepburn – Portraits of An Icon
Running from 2 July – 18 October 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Audrey Hepburn: Portraits Of An Icon illustrates the truly fascinating life and career of one of the most idealized and beautiful celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian of our time. It was her understated elegance, feline gracefulness and iconic style that made her an unforgettable phenomenon.
This one-of-a-kind exhibition of over seventy photographs leads you on a captivating journey throughout some of the most famous and intimate portraits of the international star, from Hepburn’s tender early years, her rise to fame as a stage and screen icon, to her remarkable and inspirational involvement that dramatically changed the language of fashion photography, and her invaluable work as one of the world’s most recognised humanitarians.
As you approach the beginning of the exhibition you are immersed into Audrey Hepburn’s tender early years, where we’re treated to a sight of the nine-year-old girl in 1938, a never been seen before in the UK portrait of Hepburn performing a dance recital in 1942, aged thirteen, and a glass box revealing the little girls’ original pair of cracked leather ballet shoes. This was a particularly personal and endearing extra element to the exhibition that onlookers gazed at for a considerable length of time.
Whilst Hepburn was aiming to pursue an early career in dance, she was ironically spotted by photographer Antony Beauchamp, in revue performances at venues just around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery, whose 1949 fashion shots later appeared in British Vogue.
For the stunning screen star that she was, the exhibition would not be complete without standout screen and publicity shots from her major movie roles. Such portraits shown include those taken from Gigi (1951), War and Peace (1955), Funny Face (1957), How to Steal a Million (1966) and Two for the Road (1967).
Throughout her astonishing career, Hepburn became the subject of many leading photographers works of the twentieth century that are shown on display in the exhibition, including the talents of Angus McBean (1950), Richard Avedon (1954), Cecil Beaton (1964), Irving Penn, Terry O’Neill (1966), Norman Parkinson (1955) and portraits by Steven Meisel in 1991, which were images taken from her last major photo shoot.
The exhibition dedicates an entire impressive large wall to all the vintage magazine covers Audrey Hepburn famously appeared on, from the Picturegoer in 1952 to Life magazine front cover where she is outfitted in Givenchy for her triumphant role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
Among the many beautiful standout and iconic photographs, personal highlights of mine were of course those taken from a fashion perspective, particularly the array of portraits where Audrey is dripping in Givenchy, and appears every bit the fashion icon she was, and will remain to be for years to come. Portraits reveal her close style marriage and faithful friendship with French couturier, Hubert de Givenchy, including their first meeting for Sabrina’s wardrobe, in 1954, many attires featured in Funny Face, and who could possibly forget the little black dress designed by Givenchy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a true fashion moment for both the designer and actress that made film fashion history.
By Katie Farley