The exhibit to celebrate Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday anniversary originally launched in Brussels and Amsterdam is now in Manila, Philippines.
To celebrate her 90th birthday anniversary in 2019, Audrey Hepburn’s son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer created a bespoke exhibition on his mother’s life. Launched in Brussels, Belgium where Hepburn was born, the exhibit ran from May 1 to August 25, 2019. It has since journeyed through Amsterdam, from November 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020 and now Intimate Audrey is in Manila, Philippines.
The exhibition presents hundreds of both original and re-printed photographs as well as memorabilia, dresses, accessories and even Hepburn’s fashion drawings and humanitarian writings–some of which have never been seen before. Videos showing relevant chapters of Hepburn’s life are played throughout the exhibit. As per the website, Intimate Audrey “focuses entirely on the woman–not the icon,” elaborating that “it is the woman behind the legend who is ‘coming home’.”
Profits of Intimate Audrey will go to Eurordis-Rare Diseases Europe. According to their website, Eurordis is a non-profit alliance of over 1,000 rare disease patient organization from 74 countries working together for the improvement of lives of more than 300 million people worldwide who are living with a rare disease.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was led by the Philippines’ First Lady, Liza Araneta Marcos, together with Teresita Coson, Sean Hepburn Ferrer and daughter, Emma. The journey through the Intimate Audrey exhibition begins by welcoming guests with the words, “‘Intimate Audrey’ is a ‘bespoke’ exhibition on the life of Audrey Hepburn.
Created to celebrate her 90th birthday anniversary in Brussels, on May 4th, 2019 and her youth in the Netherlands, it focuses on the girl, the wife, and the mother. It is the woman behind the legend who is ‘coming home’. This is Audrey the icon–as we all know her. Permanently viral. But what lies ‘behind the silver screen’? Behind the legend? Who was she really?”
Upon entering the exhibit space, one is immediately enamored by two rows of breathtakingly beautiful portraits, captured in black and white, on both left and right sides of the hall. This leads to a life-size cutout of Hepburn, emphasizing her elegant petite frame and unmistakable pixie.
The exhibit then leads the audience to the family tree, offering a journey to the past to her Flemish and Bohemian ancestors, showcasing her Dutch family roots, featuring photographs of The Van Heemstras family. This is followed by more photographs of her birthplace in Brussels, showcasing an “enchanted” childhood influenced by early plays and ballet.
The exhibit’s storyline tells “the young dancer blossoms into a stylish young lady. Her dream of becoming a prima ballerina is still well and alive. The dream is then shattered and gives way to the metamorphosis. The butterfly spreads its wings–unexpectedly.”
Hepburn’s story in photographs continues with the captured memories of the Academy Awards where Hepburn received an Oscar for her role in Roman Holiday.
The exhibit’s narrative continues with A Swiss Wedding, ”She moved to Bürgenstock, Switzerland in late 1953 where she lived for the following 10 years. There she married actor, dancer, writer, director, and producer Melchor Gaston Ferrer in September of 1954.”
Exhibit guests follow the love story of Audrey and Mel which reveals that during the couple’s 17-year marriage, they attempted not work at the same time to avoid being away from each other for long periods of time.
It was in July 1960 that her son Sean was born and more photographs of his early years in Bürgenstock through 1963 as well as memorabilia in the form of Christening gowns and winter coats are presented.
A quote states, “I always loved children. As a child, I used to pick them out of their prams to my mother’s stern disapproval. I dreamt of a family and children of my own.”
This was followed by captured moments of Hepburn and friends such as Ralph Laurent, Valentino, and Hubert de Givenchy.
And then the story unfolds to La Paisable, Switzerland, where she would live for 30 years from 1963 to 1993, the place where she would transition from film producer and actress to humanitarian. The photographs reveal her home and “beloved flower garden and rich bouquets, her fruit orchard and sumptuous home made jams, her friends–the trees.” The story adds, “The bounty gives way to a new blossom: hundreds of pages of handwritten speeches for the Children of the world.”
The exhibit then lures one to The Theatre, which play film footage from Hepburn’s most memorable roles. A black curtain blocks off the space and once inside, one can find movie posters on each side of the wall, with chairs set up in a mini cinema where one can indulge in snippets of Hepburn’s movies.
The final chapter of the exhibit offers a look at Hepburn’s last five years, described by her as her “most important career as a UNICEF ambassador” with a touching video of her missions in her own words. The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Oscar she received posthumously is presented as a final tribute to the woman, wife, mother, and humanitarian.
Intimate Audrey features an exclusive tribute named AUDREY: An Homage from Filipino Fashion.
The tribute highlights the Philippines’ renowned designers with pieces that celebrate Hepburn’s life and work.
Designers whose works were featured include: Rhett Eala, Puey Quinones, Pepito Albert, Vic Barba, Patrice Ramos-Diaz, Len Cabili, Ivar Aseron, Jun Escario, JC Buendia, Randy Ortiz, Jojie Lloren, Frederick Peralta, Cary Santiago, Auggie Cordero, Philip Rodriguez, Cesar Gaupo, Ben Farrales, Rajo Laurel, Mike De La Rosa, and Dennis Lustico.
National Artists Salvacion Lim-Higgins and Ramon Valera’s pieces were also highlighted in the tribute.
Here are some of the guests who joined Intimate Audrey on July 31, 2023:
Dr. Vicki Belo, daughter Cristalle, and granddaughter Siena
Paco Sandejas, Mike Jacob, Christine Jacob, Rico Hizon
Charisse Chadian, Sharyn Wong, Candy Dizon, Pepper Teehankee
Rhoda Campos-Aldanese, Sheila Romero, and Peewee Reyes-Isidro
Giovanni and Lorenzo Cerea, Silvia Papadakis
You can experience Intimate Audrey until October 29, 2023 at The Museum at S Maison in 1300 Coral Way Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay from 10 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. on weekdays and 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are available through SM Tickets.
Banner photo by Daniel Tan.