Audrey Hepburn: Life of a fashion icon

Audrey Hepburn National Portrait Gallery

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, a major photography exhibition exploring her fascinating life and career has just opened at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

This exhibition chronicles the rise from her early years in the Netherlands and as a dancer and chorus girl in London’s West End, to her becoming a stage and screen icon, and culminating with her philanthropy work in later life.

Above Photo: Audrey Hepburn photographed wearing Givenchy by Norman Parkinson, 1955. Copyright: Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Audrey Hepburn National Portrait Gallery

1955 La Vigna, Italy – signed ‘Halsman N.Y.’ – LIFE Magazine cover July 18, 1955

On display are more than 70 photographs of Audrey Hepburn beginning when she was nine years old, formal portraits, and photographs taken while on set during movie productions. Many which have never been on public display making this a remarkable exhibition.

Highlights of the exhibition include images of her early work in London as a fashion model taken by photographer Anthony Beauchamp for the department store Marshall & Snelgrove. Also included are portraits taken by some of the most leading photographers of the twentieth century, including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and many others.

Audry Hepburn National Portrait Gallery

1955 circa. Photograph by Antony Beauchamp.

Included in the exhibition are vintage magazine covers, from the Picturegoer in 1952 to the front cover of Life Magazine featuring Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.

Born in Brussels to a Dutch Baroness and an Anglo-Irish Father in 1929. Hepburn moved to London from Amsterdam in late 1948 to take up a ballet scholarship at the Rambert Ballet School in Notting Hill. After many stage performances as a chorus girl in the West End, Hepburn made her first screen debut in British films. Her critically acclaimed stage performance Gigi in New York, 1951 introduced Hepburn to American audiences, which propelled her career internationally.

Audrey Hepburn National Portriat Gallery

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

During the 50’s and 60’s, Audrey Hepburn’s career flourished with several movie roles and was the first actress ever to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for a single performance, her leading role in Roman Holiday, 1953. She also worked as a Unicef ambassador from 1988 until her death in 1993.

In an era of fashion icons, Audrey Hepburn is no doubt at the top of the list. Her grace, beauty and humanitarian work has made her the world’s first truly international star.

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon runs until October 18, 2015.

If you go:

National Portrait Gallery is conveniently located within a two minute walk from Trafalgar Square. Open daily 10 am – 6 pm, Thursdays & Fridays until 9 pm. Nearest Underground: Leicester Square / Charing Cross.

Official tourism site: Visit London

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