I can understand it, because there is something about Audrey that I find touching and poignant. It’s not just her elegance or sense of style; it’s also her grace, warmth and a certain fragility. Audrey charms as much as she intrigues me.Audrey Hepburn has been a muse for film directors, couture designers, and makeup artists. She also inspired perfumers, and while Givenchy L’Interdit was created especially for her in 1957, many a fragrance creator mentions the actress and fashion icon with reverence.
Looking at the images of Audrey splashing in the pool with her sons, holding infants in Africa or posing for studio photos, I realized that one of the main reasons she fascinates me is her multifaceted personality. She continues to inspire because her projects and her image evolved over time. I’m rarely curious what perfumes celebrities wear, but I immediately wanted to know about Audrey. Someone as eclectic as she is surely would have an interesting fragrance wardrobe.
There is no shortage of companies claiming that Audrey wore their products. Krigler markets English Promenade 19 as the fragrance Audrey wore during the filming of We Go to Monte Carlo, and adjectives like “timeless” and “natural beauty” are used in excess in the press materials for this musky orange blossom. Creed claims that Spring Flower was her personal scent, while there is no doubt that L’Interdit was indeed tailor-made for Audrey and counted among her favorites.
This year, the National Portrait Gallery in London is celebrating Audrey’s legacy with an exhibition showcasing Audrey’s life and career through photos. It spans her childhood in Holland and early years as a dancer in London. It then tracks her rise to fame in Hollywood and concludes with her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Audrey worked with some of the best photographers, including Cecil Barton, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon, and many of her images can be counted as part of pop culture–think the famous Holly Golightly half turn with a cigarette holder. What’s fascinating about the exhibit is the inclusion of rare images and personal photographs donated by Audrey’s sons, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer.
Flipping through my notes and magazine cuttings with Audrey’s interviews, I discovered several other fragrances she enjoyed. For instance, Acqua di Parma Colonia is mentioned in interviews from the 60s. In photographs of her dressing table I spotted Jean Patou Joy, Balmain Ivoire and Femme Rochas. Anyone who wears such a diverse perfume wardrobe must be a person with wide-ranging tastes, and I had fun scenting Audrey’s film characters in Funny Face, Charade or Two for the Road.
One interesting mention among my clippings was of Guerlain Chamade, a fragrance I secretly ascribed to Audrey. It has a cool, elegant facade, but Chamade is full of surprises and twists. It’s easily one of the most unusual Guerlain classics. Apparently, Audrey wore it as well. While L’Interdit sold today bears little resemblance to the fragrance created for the actress, Chamade is close to its original form. For all its polished charm, Chamade is a dramatic perfume that makes a statement. It is a love story of rose and hyacinth, two notes with different characters, but that are blended so well, their union is harmonious. Wearing it is like being surrounded by an olfactory version of Mozart’s symphony. What can be more perfectly suited for Audrey?
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon is running at the National Portrait Gallery from 2nd July – 18th October. If you’re going to visit London, please don’t miss it.