AUDREY HEPBURN: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON at the National Portrait Gallery

Audrey Hepburn is very popular.  Don’t even think about turning up on spec to see this exhibition because you will, like me, find that other more organised people have got the tickets.  Audrey Hepburn, film star, is an image that most of us are familiar with: this exhibition has many of those but we start with pictures of her as part of the chorus line in the West End and as a Marshall & Snelgrove mannequin.  That early training as a dancer and model stood her in good stead in the years to come.

Audrey Hepburn by Antony Beauchamp, 1955 ©Reserved

Audrey Hepburn by Antony Beauchamp, 1955
©Reserved

In my mind, I am slender, gamine and have effortless chic.  Reality reveals me to be a little more elephantine than Audrey.  That doesn’t stop me gazing at the black and white image of our heroine dressed in black slacks, a v-neck jersey and funnel neck top and wondering where I can buy the garments.  Surely if I were to wear such things, I would look a little less elephantine.  The photo was taken in 1955 but the clothes would not look out of place today.

Audrey Hepburn dressed in Givenchy with sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith by Douglas Kirkland, 1966 ©Iconic Images/Douglas Kirkland

Audrey Hepburn dressed in Givenchy with sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith by Douglas Kirkland, 1966
©Iconic Images/Douglas Kirkland

Givenchy is the designer most associated with Miss Hepburn.  Sabrina was the first film he dressed her for in 1954.  Seven more films, with the staples of her off screen wardrobe, followed.  One picture in the exhibition has her dressed in white 1960’s space chic, idly toying with a pair of sunglasses (clothes by Givenchy and glasses by Oliver Goldsmith).  Even dressed in a cloth helmet she looks good, but there are some fashions best left in the 60’s.

Audrey Hepburn by Phillipe Halsman for LIFE magazine, 1954 ©Phillipe Halsman/Magnum Press

Audrey Hepburn by Phillipe Halsman for LIFE magazine, 1954
©Phillipe Halsman/Magnum Press

June Boardman was my first dress maker.  She taught me how to select colour and fabric, how to lay out a pattern, how to make clothes myself.  I continued to make most of my own clothes until High Street fashion became so cheap that it no longer made financial sense.  There is one shot of Audrey in the exhibition that caused me to look again, as it reminded me of pictures of my Mother before I was born.  She is dressed in pink (my Mother was black and white in those days) and looks over her shoulder back at us. Proof that we all have bit of Audrey in us.

Usually I make my cultural jaunts in the morning.  On this occasion I was due to meet Mr CW for dinner and so had a late afternoon visit and had no coffee break.  We dined at Rabot 1745 and made the most of the Junior CW’s being away on a school trip.

AUDREY HEPBURN: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON

2 July – 18 October 2015

Admission £9 (concessions £7)

To book tickets click here

Open daily 10am -6pm (Thursday and Friday until 9pm)

5 Comments

  1. August 11, 2015 / 2:37 pm

    Oh, I’d love to see this. Wasn’t she gorgeous and, more importantly, a wonderful humanitarian. I’ve won two first class train tickets to London so I think I will put this on my list, along with the V&A.

  2. August 17, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    We could all do with a dash of Audrey in our wardrobes. She truly
    deserves her status as style icon, unlike some I could mention (clue: initials KK).

    • August 18, 2015 / 9:03 am

      I would love a pair of Capri pants but am sadly not of Audrey proportions

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