A GoPride Interview

Meghan Friedlander and Luca Dotti

Audrey Hepburn still sizzles in Paris

Mon. February 19, 2024  by Jerry Nunn

Audrey lived her life without prejudices and that was a value she wanted to instill in her sons.
Meghan Friedlander and Luca Dotti

book cover

photo credit // rosanne romanello pr

Meghan Friedlander and Luca Dotti discuss Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn in Paris is a book designed to celebrate the life and times that the esteemed actress spent in France. While there she made memorable movies including

Paris When It Sizzles, Funny Face, Charade and Two for the Road. The classic film Sabrina is where she first met with gay designer Hubert de Givenchy which created a partnership and friendship that lasted the rest of their lives.

Through incredible photographs and insightful text, Hepburn’s legacy continues to grow thanks to author Meghan Friedlander. She has spent over a decade cultivating her website Rare Audrey Hepburn to honor the onscreen legend which has led to her first book. Hepburn’s son Luca Dotti has endorsed this dynamic piece of work and wrote the introduction as well.

Friedlander zoomed in from California and Dotti beamed in from Rome to talk about the project for a behind the scenes interview the week of the book release.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Congrats on the book Audrey Hepburn in Paris being released this week. It was a long journey for you, Meghan?

MF: (Meghan Friedlander) The book itself took four years and I have had Rare Audrey Hepburn for 14 years. Luca and I have been building a relationship for 13 years now. This has been a long time in the making!

JN: How did you meet?

MF: We met through my blog about Audrey Hepburn.

LD: (Luca Dotti) It was the end of 2010 and Unicef Italy asked me to open an exhibit as a fundraiser in Rome. They wanted a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme, but I thought Roman Holiday made more sense with the exhibit being in Rome.

I was searching the Internet for photos when I found Meghan’s website. It was a breath of fresh air with accuracy and at the same time glamorous. We exchanged information and have done several Q&As over the years. She is a lovely person!

JN: Was it difficult to obtain use of some of the photos for the book Audrey Hepburn in Paris?

MF: Even thinking back about it gives me trauma! We went through Getty Images for some of them, which was easy, but there were some photos that I had seen in articles before and I was determined to get them for the book. It took years to find the photographer who took some of them then if they had passed away I had to find the beneficiary of the estate. It just went on and on for a long process.

There were some photos I didn’t get until shortly before the book went to print. I am glad we got them because it sets this book apart from other Audrey Hepburn books. This one has photographs that haven’t been published for more than 60 years.

JN: Why did the front cover photo resonate so much with you?

MF: The photo is by Douglas Kirkland and he was on the set of How to Steal a Million in 1965. He was brought on by 20th Century Fox to take photographs of Audrey for publicity. I put a bid in for an auction of this transparency and won. I had it in my collection for years and then approached Luca about using it for the book. He approved and asked the Douglas Kirkland estate if we could use it for the cover and interior.

I couldn’t be more delighted and it looks beautiful.

JN: What about that china-blue dress that covered half of her face?

MF: That photo is by Bert Stern. It was from a Vogue photo shoot and some of them have not been published yet. I was glad we were able to use that one because it is just stunning.

JN: Hubert de Givenchy is a huge part of the book and was gay. What were Audrey Hepburn’s thoughts on the LGBTQ+ community?

LD: There were only a few things that my mother condemned which were hypocrisy and being cruel. We never had a conversation about it but I was surprised that other families in Italy at the time thought of it as a bad thing.

MF: Audrey lived her life without prejudices and that was a value she wanted to instill in her sons. She mentioned that she wanted her sons to know other people from other countries and to know other languages in an interview for Cosmopolitan in 1965 that is in the book. I have gotten this question quite a lot on my website from people who wanted to know if she was an ally.

There is the fact that she was best friends with Hubert de Givenchy for 40 years. He had his partner Philippe Venet for almost that entire time in a long-term committed relationship until Hubert passed away. Audrey loved them dearly and they collaborated together often.

She also did work with Elizabeth Taylor and amfAR. Audrey and Elizabeth had been friends since the 1950s. When Elizabeth threw the first gala in 1985 she reached out to all of her friends and one of them was Audrey Hepburn. Audrey went on the red carpet for photos and interviews then did the raffle. Audrey attended the following year and again in 1991 in Switzerland where she gave a speech.

Audrey never liked being a celebrity. That was never her goal in life. When she could use being a celebrity for a good cause that is when she would step forward. She did that to help with AIDS awareness which was taboo at the time.

I told my editor I wanted this included in the book. I didn’t have enough information to make it its own chapter but I was able to check it into the Oscars de la Mode chapter because I wanted people to see Audrey’s involvement and to let the LGBTQIA+ community know that she was an ally to support their cause from the very beginning.

LD: I think she was very important to the cause just for that. That was one of her strengths and she was loved by men and women from around the world.

At that time she clashed with the church because they were stopping the use of condoms and she felt that was nonsense. There was anger from my mom about it.

JN: What did you think of Natalie Portman playing Audrey Hepburn one day?

MF: I love Natalie Portman and have always been a fan. I am slightly younger than her so I have always looked up to her. There is always a new actress that comes out that is described as the next Audrey Hepburn.

Natalie has always been herself but there is always an element to her that is like Audrey Hepburn. She has the poise and is a natural talent. I also like that she is a feminist who stands up for women and the LGBTQ+ community. She makes great choices with her movies like Jackie and Black Swan.

LD: Natalie was the ambassador for Free the Children when she was very young, so there has always been a connection between her and my mother. The resemblance is striking at times.

JN: What would you like readers to take away from Audrey Hepburn in Paris?

MF: I hope this book can transport people to a different time and place. I would like it to be healing and a balm for what is going on in the world right now.

LD: I told Meghan she would be my time-traveling detective and find out why my mother never had a flat in Paris. The answer is in the book. My mother needed that double life of being a mother with pets and gardening but also needed the fashion events of Paris on the other side.

My mother said she would never write a biography because she felt she was boring. In Paris, she played a lot and there was so much happiness there.

She wanted that photo on the cover of the book to be made. Givenchy didn’t want to do it and the production people thought it would look like she was hiding something behind the mask. The marketing team won and the photo was lost. It found its way to Meghan and it’s perfect because it shows the game of hide and seek that my mother played in Paris.

JN: Where is the mask now?

MF: Hopefully with the Givenchy archives if we are lucky!

JN: Are there plans for an exhibition of the dresses in the future?

LD: My brother and I have private collections. Some of it is spread out in other collections, but we basically know where everything is.

To make an exhibition fun nowadays people want more interaction and all of the dresses aren’t necessary. There would be content with photos and videos. We have done successful exhibits in Asia in the past, but the struggle is the physical aspect of it. Things have to be shipped and insured. We would have to build a physical experience.

The way to make an Audrey Hepburn experience is with new technology and by making it immersive similar to the success of Van Gogh.

JN: That’s a great idea. Until then we have this book that keeps her spirit alive!


Visit rareaudreyhepburn.com to order Audrey Hepburn in Paris and explore more of Friedlander’s findings on the icon.


Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.