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A National Treasure

Rachel Paix takes us through the decades of Audrey Hepburn's iconic style

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The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled its latest 'Portraits of an Icon' exhibition featuring Audrey Hepburn. Renowned for her works as an actress and humanitarian, the event is proving a sell-out.

The exhibition offers the public the chance to view intimate, unseen pictures which document Hepburn's life from childhood. The collection marks the first of its kind with contributions from her sons, Luca and Sean.

Captured by Norman Parkinson and wearing a pink gown by Givenchy, 1955. Image:
Captured in 1955 by Norman Parkinson, wearing a pink Givenchy gown. Image:

When Audrey first shot to fame she challenged the status quo, in the day where the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe dominated the Hollywood scene. Hepburn redefined the consensus of glamour with her elfin beauty, slender frame and those highly defined statement eyebrows. In light of this, let's commemorate some of Audrey's iconic styles over the years.


Audrey at the 28th Annual Awards, wearing Givency.
Audrey at the 28th Annual Awards, wearing Givenchy. Image:

Her breakout role in Roman Holiday marked the start of her prosperous career as not only an actress, but upcoming style icon. Receiving an Oscar for her role as Princess Ann, Hepburn accepted her award dressed in a delicate ivory lace design which was featured in the final scene of the film. The modest design cut straight at the front, plunged at the back, and extenuated Audrey's petite waste with a belted maxi skirt.


Starring in Sabrina in 1954 caused a long-term partnership with Givenchy to form. Image:
Starring in Sabrina sparked a long-term partnership between Audrey and Givenchy. Image:

Audrey founded her status as a fashion muse whilst filming Sabrina. On set, Hepburn became acquainted with designer, Hubert de Givenchy. The start of long life partnership whereby Hepburn became muse for the designs of Givenchy soon followed. Hepburn later commented, "His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier; he is a creator of personality."


Filming 1956 classic War and Peace. Image:
Filming 1956 classic War and Peace. Image:

With effortless style on set, Audrey matches a simple shift dress and pumps.


Flaunting her slender figure again, Hepburn models a floral dress by Givenchy. Renowned for her experimentation with print and texture, Hepburn embraces the bold yet refined design.


The iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's shot. Image
The iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's shot. Image

Ultimate perpetrator of the little black dress, Hepburn is instantly recognisable for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany's. In 2006, the dress was auctioned for £467,200 which remains the highest price for a dress from a film to date. The simplicity of the LBD is complemented by a statement pearl necklace and wayfarer glasses, finalising the iconic look.


Audrey married Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in January 1969. Image:
Audrey married Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in January 1969. Image:

A lover and famous advocate of the headscarf, Audrey opted for a fashion statement even on her wedding day.


At the BAFTA awards in London. Image:
At the BAFTA awards in London. Image:

Even into her fifties, Hepburn demonstrated the ability to set trends on the red carpet. Attending the 1984 BAFTAs, Audrey wore a silk strapless gown. Unafraid to experiment with design, the dress embodied a geometric patterned bodice complemented by a flowing skirt.

Commonly listed among the most influential women ever, Hepburn's popularity has persisted and her image continues to trend set. As well as documenting her life, the collection highlights Hepburn's status as a fashion icon.

Tickets to the National Portrait Gallery exhibition can be purchased here:

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