Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

When an icon arrives in town as fabulous as this one it is absolutely necessary to celebrate such a special occasion. Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon has arrived in Cheltenham and it is not to be missed.

Fresh from it’s vacancy at the National Portrait Gallery in London, this incredible exhibition is now occupying The Wilson Gallery in the heart of Cheltenham and is sure to bring attention from all over the Cotswolds and beyond. As a huge fan of Audrey I was beyond thrilled to be invited to see her up close and personal in this beautiful tribute to her life, so last Thursday evening I donned my favourite polka dot dress and pair of heels to enjoy an evening with fellow Hepburn admirers to view this enchanting experience.
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After listening to the speeches I made my way through to the gallery space which boasts more than seventy carefully selected photographs, dating back to her early days as a ballet dancer all the way through to later life and her humanitarian work. It’s incredibly special that this is the first British exhibition that has support from the Audrey Hepburn estate, where Audrey’s two sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti have chosen rare photos from her personal collection to give us a deeper insight into her personal life and career. We think we know Audrey, but there is so much more to know.

It tells a story as you walk around, with fashion playing a glorious part throughout it all. With Hubert de Givenchy as her long-standing couturier and confidant, style played an important role itself in making her stand out amongst others. One of her finest fashion moments that is highlighted in the exhibition is in an image of Audrey in a pink Givenchy dress she wears in front of a beautiful pink blossom backdrop (see image below). This fabulous lady also gives a whole lotta inspiration when it comes to winged eyeliner

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Audrey Hepburn © Norman Parkinson Ltd. Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive
Audrey Hepburn © Norman Parkinson Ltd. Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

You will fall in love with Audrey all over again as you see her in unseen photographs of her behind the scenes in movie roles such as Funny Face, Sabrina and Roman Holiday – as well as some endearing images of her with animals. Photographers work include Terry O’Neill (look out for a stunning black and white image of Audrey with a white dove on her shoulder), Norman Parkinson and Mark Shaw.

037b. Audrey Hepburn by Jack Cardiff from Simon Regan Collection & (c) Jack Cardiff
Audrey Hepburn by Jack Cardiff from Simon Regan Collection & (c) Jack Cardiff

It was wonderful to chat with the co-curators of the exhibition, Helen Trompeteler and Terence Pepper, who have done an incredible job at bringing Audrey to life on the gallery walls. One viewing was simply not enough for this Audrey lover, so I’m planning another trip – if only just to raid the gift shop!

Make sure you visit The Wilson and book tickets for Audrey: Portraits of an Icon exhibition whilst it is in Cheltenham, until 31st January. It would also make a wonderful Christmas gift, and for just £7 per adult ticket you could bring the entire family along!

What is your favourite Audrey Hepburn movie? Do you have a favourite picture of Audrey?  Let me know down in the comments.

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