“I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal, picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain”
The discreet Belgian born British actress Audrey Hepburn had an array of wardrobe treasures, which are currently adorning the walls for droves to gush at, at the ‘Audrey a Roma’ tribute/exhibition, at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It is a ‘must see’ tribute to a lady we all recognize.
Audrey Hepburn is to Rome what Jackie O was to Capri or what Elizabeth Taylor was to Acapulco. She was the epitome of elegance without excess. Little did she know that one walk in the Pincio in Rome..and her life would change forever. Rome had captured her heart and Audrey Hepburn would spend the next twenty years in Rome.
“I believe in pink.” Audrey once said, and it was dressed in pink that she married her Italian husband Andrea Dotti in 1969. On display amongst the goodies at the exhibition is her Pink cashmere jersey wedding dress and matching scarf, worn on the day.
‘Audrey a Roma’ documents her twenty years in Rome, in her three roles as mother, actress, and UNICEF ambassador, to which she was nominated in 1988. Depicting her lifestyle, personal fashion items and memorabilia the exhibition displays scarves, sunglasses, dresses by Givenchy, and a collection of handbags synonymous of her style that have been donated by her son Luca, who was involved with the curation of the exhibition.
This exhibition also marks the 6th Rome International Film Festival, and whilst there is a focus on the movies that Audrey shot in Rome, she said her role as a mother was indeed her “favorite role” and the central focus of the exhibition is her work for UNICEF thanks to which she touched the lives of many children in Africa. Heartfelt videos show Audrey in Africa fulfilling her role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and her relentless travels to Africa, Bangladesh, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Latin America and Asia from 1988 to 1992.
The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, was set up in order to both commemorate and continue Audrey’s work. The Donor Club Amici di Audrey was established in 2010 by her sons Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti, and their club members are some of UNICEF Italy’s major donors. The fundraising activities of the club contribute to the UNICEF international campaign, We Want Zero, whose aim is to support infants through to adolescence by providing nutrition, sanitation, education, and protection from exploitation and AIDS. On her last mission to Somalia in 1992, Audrey could only describe the suffering she had seen there as “Hell’’. Nineteen years later, there is yet another humanitarian crisis in the same region.
The exhibition includes the basket bag, one of Audrey’s trademark accessories, and personal treasures such as her vintage Louis Vuitton thermos flask from 1960, and a Gucci custom made leather vanity case inscribed with her initials, complete with make up brushes. Audrey collected everything from Givenchy to bags handmade by women in Africa. Other items include ‘that dress’ by Givenchy from Breakfast at Tiffanys 1960, showcasing the glamour of that era. Her Valentino, elegant green and red double breasted wool coat from 1970, and the simple white wool twill coat by Rose Bertin, 1972, all exemplifying her style and elegance. She stuck to her understated femininity during an era when women were overtly curvaceous, sporting hourglass figures and cleavage. Slim and petite, she wore the Sabrina high neckline to flatter her slender frame and cleverly often added a twist of masculinity with a tweed jacket, or a satchel bag and loafers. Displayed also is her UN passport, confirming her height at 5 ft 6.5 inches.
Audrey said: “I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone”…
A selection of striking unpublished shots from the archives of Reporters Associati are just some of the 150 photographs on display. These are not the celebrity paparazzi ‘off guard’ style photos of today, but a much more respectful per chance Hepburn about town type photos. Audrey’s son Luca explains, ” If the photographers happened to capture her, perhaps it might be in a little road near the Campo de’ Fiori in the moment her husband was waiting for his mother-in-law to open the door for Sunday lunch. ”
She relaxed around the city walking her Yorkshire Terrier, having cocktails with Charleton Heston at Cinecitta film studios, during the shooting of both The Nuns Story and Ben Hur, or relaxing at the Hassler Hotel with her first husband, New York director Mel Ferrer. She would also spend time strolling with her mother and became resident of the Parioli district.
The crown jewel of the exhibition has to be the 1953 pistachio Piaggio vespa from the 1953 film Roman Holiday, the movie that gained her an Academy Award. One of most iconic cinematographic images is of Audrey lovingly perched upon ‘that’ motorino alongside Gregory Peck. The exhibition catalogue is a tempting coffee table book of images of Audrey running around town or more aptly, strolling, in her Renee Mancini ballet pumps. A must have item, though only available in Italian for this exhibition, costing €24 published by Mondadori.
“Together, anything is possibile” Audrey said reflecting on her humanitarian work. Ageing with grace, she spent the last few years of her life collecting roses from her garden at ‘La Paisible’, her home in Switzerland with that famous basket bag.
Exhibition AUDREY IN ROME – tribute to Audrey Hepburn in support of UNICEF.
Curated by Luca Dotti, together with Ludovica Damiani, Sciascia Gambaccini and Guido Torlonia, with the consultancy of Sava Bisazza Terracini.
October 26 to December 4, 2011. Ara Pacis Museum, Lungotevere in Augusta, Rome. Opening hours 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Every day except Mondays. No admission after 6pm. €10 full price, €8 reduced.(including a €2.50 surcharge to be donated to UNICEF).
The Unicef project to combat infant mortality is promoted by the Cultural Policy and Historic Centre Cultural Heritage Office for Roma in association Zètema Cultural Project.
Image Courtesy by Sovrintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale, dal Comitato Italiano per l’UNICEF Onlus, dalla Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund e da Zètema – Progetto Cultura s.r.l.
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