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Exclusive: Sean Ferrer on mother Audrey Hepburn— ‘She gave up her career and became a full-time mom’

Her son talks about the forthcoming 'Intimate Audrey' exhibit in Manila—and brings us up close to the woman revered by generations

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn: Permanently viral
Audrey Hepburn

“Intimate Audrey” exhibit runs Aug 1-Oct. 29, 2023 at S Maison, SM Mall of Asia complex, Pasay City. (Photographs from the “Intimate Audrey” exhibit)

The Intimate Audrey exhibit will run Aug.1-Oct 29, 2023 at S Maison at the SM Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City. It will be open to the public (tickets through SM Tickets) starting August 1.

Filipinos will have a rare chance to see the the exhibit —the first time it is being brought to Asia. Pre-pandemic, it was shown only Belgium, where Audrey Hepburn was born, and in Amsterdam, where she lived for a time. (A vernissage, by invitation, is set July 31, 2023.)

However, the moment of disbelief for me, a deep-dyed Audrey fan, wasn’t only upon knowing that I could see Audrey’s unpublished photographs and memorabilia up close—but also upon being informed that I could interview, via Zoom, Audrey Hepburn’s son with the famous actor and director Mel Ferrer, Sean Ferrer himself, who himself has gained renown for the foundation work he has been doing for his mother’s estate and legacy, and for the book on her. Our TheDiarist.ph team managed our expectation—until the man appeared on our screen, we in Metro Manila, he in Italy. Asked if we could record our video interview, he excused himself and fixed the lighting in his room, and asked so casually if the lighting was okay.

Audrey Hepburn

Sean Ferrer: ‘If Princess Diana was the people’s princess, my mother was really Cinderella…’

Cool. So down to earth. That was our introduction.

In that split second, I thought—Auggie, if you could see us now! Foremost Filipino designer Auggie Cordero, to the time of his passing in October 2022, was a name strongly associated with Audrey Hepburn in the Philippines, not only because he was a most devoted believer in Audrey Hepburn, but also because, through his collections from the late ‘70s and ‘80s, he, arguably, single-handedly introduced the “Audrey Hepburn style” of elegance and glamour to generations of Filipinas. To us, Auggie Cordero was a repository of material on Hepburn, from a full movie archive (Betamax, Laser, VHF, DVD), to books and magazines—all of them neatly displayed in his bedroom to this day. Through osmosis and countless nights and dinners of listening to his Audrey talk, we’d come to “internalize” Audrey Hepburn. Now if only we could wake up Auggie from his eternal slumber….

But then, we are not unique in our knowledge and admiration of Audrey Hepburn. Beyond being the iconic actress whose Breakfast at Tiffany’s became a culture/style marker for many a woman, Hepburn, even 30 long years after her death in 1993, remains an enduring presence of femininity and womanhood that bridges generations and even belief systems of feminism. A post-Baby Boomer like us can talk Audrey Hepburn with our Gen Z niece. Audrey first became known as a gamine beauty (Funny Face, Sabrina)—Hollywood’s dictate of the standards of fame—who became a fashion icon (who could forget her and Hubert de Givenchy?), but who in her later years evolved into a woman who championed the value of humanity.

And in this interview with Sean Ferrer, one would learn how the woman gave up Hollywood to be a mother to her two sons—a hands-on, full-time mom who attended to her sons’ homework.

And how one of the most photographed women of the 20th century chose, in the later years of her life, to shine a light on the sufferings of humanity. “I saw her lose some of her light in those years,” Sean says.

Ferrer says how beauty is “not based on perfection, but on humility.” That’s what we glean from Audrey Hepburn.

How did the Intimate Audrey exhibit become Manila-bound?

It was in December 2019 when, coming from the World Architecture Festival with architect Carlo Calma, creative event entrepreneur Carmina Sanchez Jacob spent a few days in Amsterdam. She was sitting in a café on a quiet street when she caught sight of the Intimate Audrey exhibit sign nearby. She walked into the exhibit, got immersed in the setting, jotted down her comments at the reception table, where she was told she could email the exhibit organizer/producer. She did. There was no immediate reply, but subsequent emails brought her in contact with Sean Ferrer himself.

Long story short, they became in constant communication during the pandemic—until two years later, what was thought nearly impossible became possible: the Intimate Audrey exhibit could be brought to Manila.

The Intimate Audrey exhibit was created by her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, to celebrate her 90th birthday anniversary in 2019, launched in her birth town of Brussels, Belgium, and brought to her home place Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The exhibition includes original and reprinted photographs, a few memorabilia, dresses and accessories, and her never-before-seen fashion drawings and humanitarian writings. Poignant videos bring the chapters of her life to the visitors.

Its profits go to the European Organization for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS). Audrey Hepburn died of a rare form of abdominal cancer.

Sean was born in  Switzerland to Audrey and famous movie director Mel Ferrer. He has a half-brother, Luca Dotti, from Hepburn’s second marriage to Italian psychiatrist Andrea  Dotti.

Living in Italy and in Spain, Sean worked in the film industry for several years in the development, production, and marketing of films. He was also assistant director. In 2003, he published a biography of his mother, Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit. In  2020, he and his wife Karin published Little Audrey’s Daydream, a children’s book about Hepburn’s childhood in Europe. Its proceeds were earmarked for EURORDIS. Ferrer and his daughter, Emma, contributed to Audrey (2020), a documentary about his mother directed by Helena Coan.

An Audrey Hepburn exhibit, indeed anything about the woman, is never wanting of an audience. As Sean notes, Audrey Hepburn is “permanently viral.” Her image has remained unspoiled through time—that’s highly notable. We ask what her family has done to protect her legacy, Sean replies, “Nothing… our job is done…” He says it’s like hiding under the table and “making sure nothing bad takes place.”

Apparently, Audrey Hepburn shaped her life herself, given the choices she had made, from being a war orphan to being a Hollywood icon to being a mother and a humanitarian. “If Princess Diana was the people’s princess, my mother was Cinderella… that was the arc of her life,” Sean says here.

She remains relatable—“We perceive her as one of us, rather than one of them,” Sean puts it.

Asked what he misses most about his mother, Sean says: “Our friendship.”

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn and son Sean Ferrer

Our full interview:

Just to let you know, Audrey Hepburn is known to Filipinos across generations. So we’re talking from the Baby Boomers all the way to the Gen Z, the young ones. And I think her common denominator, the common denominator of these generations, is that they like her timelessness. So, I know you’ve done many interviews with media from all over, but this is the first time you’re giving an interview with the Philippine media and for Filipinos.

So we’d like to start with the exhibit, a first in Asia.

Sean Ferrer: It’s the first time I bring this particular exhibition to Asia. So I am platforming it, if you may, in the Philippines because of a very special person who has worked very hard over the past three years to bring it to Manila— Carmina Sanchez Jacob, my partner in this project.

The idea is to use Manila as a platform to then potentially go to other locations. There have been several over the past 30 years, since we used them as fundraising tools for non-profit, as with this one. Other exhibitions, which we did originally, one with Ferragamo, went to Japan and Australia and Hong Kong and so forth. Then we had our own Timeless Audrey, which also traveled back to Japan and again had a million visitors over a six-month period. Intimate Audrey was created to celebrate what would have been her 90th birthday in her birth town of Brussels, Belgium. It then traveled to Amsterdam in Holland, where she was in the Netherlands, where she spent the war years. And ultimately we had to stop it early in 2020 because of the pandemic.

That was four years ago.

Sean: Yes. We were on hold for 2020 and 2021, and in 2022, as we saw that the pandemic was relenting a bit and hopefully is now somewhat behind us. We started working again on putting together this particular program.

So how do you feel about bringing the exhibit to Asia, to the Philippines?

Sean: Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. I’ve been told about the love for my mother in the Philippines for many years, by a very dear friend who was Marlon Brando’s last wife, and the mother of two of my very dear friends who are his youngest children. Marie is Filipino, and she always used to say, “You should go, they love your mother over there,” and so forth. She’s no longer with us, unfortunately, but I’ve been wanting to do this. It was on my bucket list. And I feel very good, especially focusing on the fact that, as you know, her work in the last five years of her life was on behalf of children, women, freedom, democracy, and all those good things.

And I perceive the Philippines, certainly, as one of the beacons, together with Taiwan, of this new world order. While democracy seems to be receding in many corners of the world, there are countries that are hanging tough in our corner. And I’m not talking about economic politics here and who’s going to get what, but the rights of people. I certainly perceive the Philippines as one of the places where there is still a beacon of hope.

‘Audrey Hepburn cannot be found in a pair of ballerina shoes or a pair of cigarette pants’

We’re glad to hear that from you, because our democracy is really one that has had the most colorful ups and downs in the world. And going back to your mother, Audrey Hepburn, it’s because the Philippines, since we were colonized by the US, is so Hollywood, we are West-centric, that’s why we’re familiar with her.

The exhibit also contains unpublished photographs and never-before-seen memorabilia. Would you tell us a bit about how it was put together, your involvement in this? Are you including items from her life to this day?

Sean: This exhibition is the result of 30 years of experience with the public and my own understanding and appreciation of an ever-evolving process. The other exhibitions, starting with the Ferragamo one, and then our own Intimate Audrey, were very heavily reliant on memorabilia, as you’ve just described. And over time, I came to understand that Audrey Hepburn, the myth, the person, what she stood for, cannot be found in a pair of ballerina shoes or a pair of cigarette pants. It can be found in her writings, in her words, in videos that we have throughout the exhibition. And so the reason it’s called Intimate Audrey is that actually, you get closer to her as a person than ever before. So while we may be lighter in this case on things, I think we all desire a future where we can shed a lot of these things, even in our own lives. I think we get closer to her, to her philosophies, to her desires, her dreams, and her wishes much more than before.

Can you give us a few examples of physical objects or pictures that are intimately Audrey that the guests can look forward to?

Sean: The easiest way to get a sense of what it is, is to go to intimateaudrey.com. There’s a lovely video of our premiere in Brussels. So rather than ruin it with a list of a few items, this is like a bouquet, okay? It’s a beautifully arranged bouquet of flowers. And so it’s the ultimate arrangement that creates the magic, not just the particular individual items, which by themselves could not really mean much, but together, and as a way to tell a story, mean a lot. So it’s a lovely video. It’s well-put together, and it’ll give you a strong sense of what the feel of the exhibition is like.

So it might be difficult to ask you if there is a particular piece or object or aspect of the exhibit that is so personally dear to you.

Sean: Everything in this exhibition belongs to me personally. I have curated her estate, her image, her likeness, her intellectual property rights, and the collection, which has changed over time. All of the items have a very important meaning to the person, and to me, of course, because they cover not just her career, but her personal life and her final chapter, and maybe the most important one, which was the one for UNICEF. So each chapter is there. The story is told. You hear it in her own words, which is so important. And there’s no disappointment because you get to sit in a little theater and watch film clips, but you also get to hear what happened to the young girl and how she became a mother and then a woman and what she understood at the beginning of her life coming out of World War II and the promise that we as a society made to each other, that this shall never happen again.

And unfortunately, it appears that silently, in many parts of the world, a version or another of the Holocaust we all promised would never happen again is taking place. Maybe not in the same manner, but we see it in the Middle East. We see it with the Palestinians, we see it in Ukraine today, we see it somehow, we are having a difficult time, in part because of ideology. To accept the fact that we were handed this beautiful planet, this paradise, and we are not respecting it, not just the environment but also each other, the people and especially the children who all deserve a childhood and a chance at being self-supporting.

We admire the fact that your view of her legacy goes beyond the woman, her lifetime, into a broader view of the universe…what makes Audrey Hepburn different through the years, I think, is how her legacy has remained unsullied, unspoiled. And I think some said it’s because of the way the heirs have nurtured it, protected it, and as you just mentioned, even extended it beyond her era.

So, what have the heirs or what have you done particularly to make sure you protect and even extend that legacy?

Sean: I wish I could sit here and say that the careful work of legally protecting her name, image, and likeness so that it doesn’t get misused or just commercialized, which don’t have much meaning, is really the reason why she has become permanently viral. And it’s interesting. A friend of mine asked me the same question a while back. He said, “Well, what do you actually do today to promote her legacy?” And I thought about it and I said, “Actually, nothing.” We do promotion work and marketing promotion and so forth for any product or service or person or IP or celebrity to create a moment of virality. She has become permanently viral everywhere in the world, wherever you go. So in actual fact, my job or our job is done. Actually, all we can do is really hide under the table and make sure that nothing bad takes place. Of course, we watch that someone doesn’t misuse it or use it for the wrong reasons. But apart from that, she’s really, I always say if Princess Diana was the people’s princess, my mother was really the Cinderella of the people because of the arc of her life coming from nothing in the war and all of that.

So I think that she belongs to the people and she’s being passed on, which is very poetic if you think about it. She’s being carried into the future by the same generations she so fervently worked for towards the end of her life through her ambassadorship for UNICEF.

‘… a beauty that is not based on perfection, but a beauty that is based on humility and being one of us, really’

She really has, in a way, taken a place like James Dean on tweens’ cupboard doors. The image is there. And it’s very sweet because they don’t have the same historical context that we all do with respect to her life story and what happened first, second, and third. So they each have a piece of this wonderful kaleidoscope. And together, these younger generations, they have grown to become young adults, have a kaleidoscopic view. But they’re passing it on, and that’s what counts. And they’re not really passing on a face. They’re passing on an inner elegance that manifested itself through this outer elegance and a beauty that is not based on perfection, but a beauty that is based on humility and being one of us, really. That, I think, is the secret definition of why she is still so relevant, that in the Parthenon of Hollywood, where maybe Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra and that untouchable face and persona, my mother is really the girl from across the landing who puts on a little black dress and goes out into the world. And we root for her. And so we perceive her as one of us rather than one of them.

I think she understood us, as did my father, who took the baton from my grandmother, who was really the first hands-on manager of her career until they were married. She was 23, just got her Academy Award for Roman Holiday, and they were married in September of ‘54. I think they both understood the value of photography. And if you consider what it took to take a photograph in those days that we didn’t have iPhones or digital cameras—it wasn’t so easy. You had to make up an air and light it and take a Polaroid to make sure that everything was working the way you envisioned it. You had to see it through the lens and then do the photo shoot and then print contact sheets. And those contact sheets had to be sent via mail, not digital, to the person so that they could make selections and corrections, so forth. And then finally, the photographs that were selected were printed and put in press kits, which were then mailed to the four corners of the earth to promote a film. So if you present the cost of a single photograph, then it’s probably close to a smartphone today, a single smartphone.

So considering the cost and the arduousness, she’s probably one of the most photographed women of the last century. And so still to this day; sometimes I’ll find online not just a single photograph, but an actual layout or a photo shoot that I haven’t seen before, which is extraordinary. And is she the early queen of Instagram? I don’t know if we could say that. But certainly, one of the reasons she’s permanently viral is that there is so much material on her, and it’s so well curated and so well presented.

Do you monitor the photographs regularly?

Sean: Well, curating and preparing for exhibits and cutting film clips and creating reels and scanning and digitizing all of these extraordinary prints which today are worth more than an Hermès bag or piece of antique furniture—it has taken a long time, and is almost done. But certainly protecting her IP and monitoring with the help of search engines and Google alerts and things like this, what is happening in the world and how her name is being mentioned or utilized—it gives us the ability to pursue our legal rights, which are complicated because they’re different in every part of the world, to ensure that her name and her image and likeness are not misused and or somehow misattributed.

‘When she became ill, I had to make a decision whether I should take this valuable legacy’

It’s a full-time job. I started my career in production and had 15 years of nice, solid work in the entertainment industry. And then when she became ill and ultimately passed away, I had to make a decision on my feet whether I should continue to make a couple of bad action films, maybe, hopefully, because the chances of me achieving another Audrey Hepburn type of success was improbable, or whether I should take this valuable legacy, this assets that she left, and run with it and make sure that it’s protected and well organized. And that’s what I did, and I’ve been doing it for the past 30 years.

Are you surprised? You’re not surprised that the Gen Zs and the millennials, today’s generations, are familiar with her, given the amount of visual treasure that she has left?

Sean: I think we are a humble family. We’re not in a Hollywood frame of mind. We don’t take anything for granted. We’re extremely thankful, as I am thankful for someone like you who’s helping us to continue her story. But I’m always surprised by the extent to which she still means so much without really having done anything apart from continuing her charitable and humanitarian dreams and making sure that nothing really bad happens, a “do no harm” kind of an approach. But I’m always surprised at the extent. Because she’s unique. Because she means something. Because in our collective perception, she represents something that doesn’t come by that often.

And timeless. Were you around towards her last years? Were you close to her? How was she like?

Sean: Well, she traveled a lot in the last five years of her life because of this ambassadorship with UNICEF. So what we would do as a family is, we’d each have our lives, and then at Christmas time, we would all get together. So I would fly back to Switzerland for a couple of weeks, and we’d spend Christmas and New Year’s together and sit around with our feet up on the table and chat about this and that in the living room and spend time. And I have to say, I saw her lose some of her light in those years because she saw things that no one should see. And believe me, having now taken her place over the past 30 years, I have seen things about us as a society as a whole that I wish I hadn’t seen and I can never unsee. And I’m talking about beyond the mistreatment or the lack of opportunity for younger generations, the abuse, the commercial sexual exploitation, and things that I don’t want to get into right now, but we are as brutal as we were in the Middle Ages.

She saw those things going around, and it broke her.

Sean: If there is a spiritual side to a disease, if she had this very rare form of abdominal cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), which was primarily in her appendix, and you couldn’t see it, it’s too sharp a corner for an endoscopy to see it. But if there is a connection between your immune system breaking down and a terrible hurt, which I believe we’ve now almost scientifically proven that the two are connected, at least through the microbiome of your intestine, it broke her, no doubt about it. What she saw and what she hoped we had become but hadn’t, that really broke her spirit, which is very unfortunate and very sad in a way.

‘We didn’t live in a Hollywood home mansion with screening rooms and all of that. We lived in the country, in a farmhouse’

What did you feel when you watched her film for the first time? Because she was a mother to you, not a star. And it was only, I think, after some years that she let you watch her films.

Sean: Actually, it was the contrary. She wasn’t someone who promoted or pushed. We didn’t live in a Hollywood home mansion with screening rooms and all of that. We lived in the country, in a farmhouse. But in those days, an actor would receive a 16-mm copy. There were no VHS or DVDs or Blu-rays or digital or anything. So the only copy that they could get was a 16-mm. She had all her films, and I said, “Well, I’d like to watch them one day.” She said, “Whenever you want.” There was an old, wonderful old Bell and Howell projector, better than the kind you get for home movies. And they had that wonderful sort of speaker that is on the cover, and they had a long cord and so I put up a sheet up in the attic in the summer with the windows open, and I sat in an old sofa that was up there and I learned to use the projector. And that’s how I discovered her films, with real film projection, with that wonderful flickering light and the sound of it. And so all the magic was there.

And that’s how I discovered that she was not just my mother, but that she was a wonderful actress. But it really wasn’t until she passed away, and our little hamlet of 600 people filled up with 25,000 cars as far as you could see them, parked along these country roads.

‘People lined the streets and came to pay their respects as we carried the coffin to the little church’

People lined the streets and came to pay their respects as we carried the coffin to the little church and then to the cemetery. It was eye-opening, the reaction of people and the letters. I mean, by the time she passed away in the attic, the same attic where I discovered her films, there were maybe 30 or 35 bags, the lawn and leaf garbage bags that you use when you go outside and gather leaves, the really tall ones. They were filled with letters, get-well books, origami, books on shark cartilage—you name it. Anything that people could send, they did. It was extraordinary. The mail woman would drag a bag every day to the front door and look at us, like, “What’s going on?” She normally delivered the mail on a little scooter. And during those two weeks that we came back, they had to actually rent her a van to bring the mail twice a day to the house because of the quantity. So the whole thing was disproportionate, and kind of extraordinary.

We remember watching that funeral. We remember her very simple coffin. We were early stalkers. How old were you when you were first watched her film?

Sean: I was then living in Switzerland, so I was 13, 14, 15.

You don’t remember what film that was?

Sean: The first one? No. I think it was Love in the Afternoon or Funny Face or one of those.

So she never really talked much about the movies, the films?

Sean: No. She was very healthy that way. When her work for the day was done, she came home and she didn’t bring the work with her. And she gave up her career to become a full-time mom because I could no longer travel and be with her on the set. And she had wanted a family and she’d wanted kids. And I think she realized, as I think we’re starting to realize, that being a wonder woman who can do everything at once and have kids and career and take care of the house and be a wife and look good at the event and so forth is a very, very hard thing to achieve. Let me tell you, this is the woman who knew how to get dressed and do this and that, whatever. It’s hard work. It doesn’t happen naturally. It has to be planned. It’s hard work. And if you look at all of those paparazzi pictures of her walking around Rome, she always looks impeccable and lovely and she’s just going out for a little shopping or whatever. So she realized she couldn’t do it all, and so she gave up her career and became a full-time mom.

 I see. And you enjoyed it, that she was a hands-on mom.

Sean: I think it’s one of the greatest gifts that any parent can give you. First of all, we were lucky, because you don’t choose your parents, you don’t choose your kids. So it doesn’t always work out. There are times when you don’t particularly like each other. You may love your parent or your child, but then their nature may be such that it doesn’t click well. We had this lucky thing. Maybe it had to do with the comedy gene in the family. One of the greatest things is, I could make her laugh, really laugh from her stomach. And there were many times when that was needed because she was sad, and things were not going well, the way she hoped for in her personal life.

Did she spank you? Sorry—our older Asian generation got spanked.

Sean: No, there was no spanking. She actually always said that she wanted to teach by example, and she would always tell me what she thought and what she would do in my shoes. But very early on, she always said, “The decision is yours.” Ultimately, and I think I’ve done the same thing with my kids, it’s very difficult to ask your kids on one hand to understand adult problems and appreciate that things don’t always work out, divorce and separation and whatever. Things don’t always go the way you hope that they do. And then two minutes later, you’re asked to reinstate this parent-child thing. So once you trust them with one thing, you have to, by default, trust them with the other. And you have to make them responsible and a partner rather than a soldier.

Through what she was going through personally, how did she keep the children or the family together just by being there?

Sean: Well, just by being there and by being a great mom and cooking and doing and coming to get you at school and going out to buy books and socks. And when it was a holiday and we had to get dressed up for something, we’d go and rent outfits, and she would help us with homework and wake up in the morning with her hair flat on her head, and let’s go over that particular homework one more time—normal things that all parents do or wish they could do if they’re with their kids.

How do you describe her to your daughter Emma?

Sean: I don’t. My daughter, very early on, I told her who she was, and she didn’t particularly connect. And then with time, like me, she discovered her films. I don’t think that my kids have still seen all of her films or fully understand what it’s all about. But I’m not going to push it. Just like she didn’t push it on me, I’m not going to push it on them. When they’re ready, they will know. But my daughter, very early on, became involved because of the children aspect of the non-profits and the charities. She became involved in helping with events and setting up an art show. And she became a young ambassador for UNICEF and the High Commissioner, UNHCR High Commissioner for refugees and travel. Once it becomes a family culture, that’s easier to pass on than when you pass a test on your grandmother and all the details about her life. The important part of the legacy has been passed on. The details, that will come with time.

Can you tell us a bit about the foundation that benefits from this exhibit?

Sean: So there’s been a series of different boxes or containers, if you may, over time, but presently, the one that I’m working with—because I’m now no longer living in the US and spending more time in Europe—is a non-profit association. I have one in Switzerland called the Audrey Hepburn Association, and then a satellite of that, which is the one in Belgium in her hometown, birth town, called Born in Brussels, because of course, she was born in Brussels. And that is the vehicle that I have used to fund, which basically paid for the exhibition. And when the profits are generated, they will go. I was an ambassador for rare diseases, because she was taken by a rare disease that only touches one in a million people. And so we will work with a couple of children’ hospitals in Brussels; I gave my commitment to the mayor of the city when he gave us a beautiful space in the center of Brussels. And with time, there will be other things—but always bearing in mind that in the case, for example, of the Manila exhibition, if we generate a profit through ticket sales, which I’m very much hoping we will, there will be something that we select, a grassroots project, something local.

You mean in the Philippines?

Sean: In the Philippines, of course. The sponsor money pays for the cost and the installation, and generates a small profit for the Brussels-based foundation. But the public support, the people coming to buy tickets or whatever—that’s going to stay in the Philippines if there’s a profit there, which I’m sure there will be.

What do you miss most about her?

Sean: The friendship. That’s the great gift, I guess, that she wasn’t just my mother, but she was also my best friend. And today I have a wife who’s also my best friend, although that’s not the same thing because I love my wife and I have feelings that are different from the ones you have for a parent. But we were great friends and that friendship, as I said to you, was a natural one because we liked each other. But also, it developed because of the hardships and the difficulties and the things we had to talk about. And that happens when you have to go through something. They say that you go to the military and you make those friends for life because whoever you go into battle with, you know you can trust that person with your life. But I think we had that feeling for each other. I will send you a little clip after this interview. She was interviewed by Dutch television. Halfway into the interview, this man who’s become a dear friend over the years, Evo Niche, asked her, “I’m going to say some words and you react to them.” And one of them was “Sean,” and she reacted to my name.

So can you describe her in a word? Audrey is unique to each of us. Each person who follows her has a word for her. So we’re curious what her son—what word you think to describe the woman?

Sean: Love. In the end, that’s what she hoped for. That’s what she wished for all of us. That’s why she did what she did, both in her career and her personal life and as an ambassador. Even the part of the elegance and the style, and I don’t like to use the word “fashion” because she didn’t really follow fashion. She created a look that worked for her, which is probably why her look is still so timeless today. But she did because she loved Hubert de Givenchy and they were able to work together and develop that look in a collaboration. That’s Givenchy, the designer she worked with. Everything really began and ended with that word in her life.

Can you give a very short message to the Filipino audience who will want to see your exhibit?

Sean: No, because I’m going to be there. And so if they come for the first week, first few days, I will be there. I will be there installing it. I’m going to be there for almost a month. So there’ll be plenty of opportunity. If people want to talk to me, I’m going to be there. They can do that.

So this is your first time to see our country, right?

Sean: I spent a lot of time in the Paris, in Japan, in Korea and so forth, but I’ve never been to the Philippines.

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After devoting more than 30 years to daily newspaper editing (as Lifestyle editor) and a decade to magazine publishing (as editorial director and general manager), she now wants to focus on writing—she hopes.

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