From A Son’s Perspective

Luca Dotti, Audrey Hepburn’s son, on remembering his mother

“Reflecting on his mother’s signature style, evidenced in many of the images in the book, Dotti remembers that scarves were her vice. “Well, it wasn’t like Imelda Marcos and shoes,” he says. “She had, like every woman, maybe 30 or 40. It was a good way to be in disguise, big sunglasses and a scarf. Occasionally she was able to do her shopping without having all the crowds behind.” Hepburn’s iconic look was, according to her son, what she thought of as “a good mixture of defects.” Dotti explains, “She thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast. She would look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.’ ”

He also remembers that aging never scared Hepburn. “She was always a little bit surprised by the efforts women made to look young,” Dotti recalls. “She was actually very happy about growing older because it meant more time for herself, more time for her family, and separation from the frenzy of youth and beauty that is Hollywood. She was very strict about everybody’s time in life.” Though, adds Dotti, “The only big regret I have, and she would have had, is not knowing her grandchildren. Because she would have been a fantastic grandmother—cooking cakes, keeping the grandchildren on every occasion, and telling them stories.”

Of his parents’ marital struggles, Dotti says, “This is a speculation I’m making, but also a fact. She was 40 [when she married] but at the same time so much older than 40 because of all the success and history behind her. And my father was 10 years younger. To be around a woman who has been an icon for many years, and you’re a young doctor, for a man it makes a difference. If that equation was reversed, if my father was the one 10 years older and a little bit more secure, it would have probably worked out better.”

When asked in what way his mother remains most physically present in his life, Dotti says, “Through scent.” Not perfume, but “the light sensation of a smell,” Dotti says his mother preferred. “We joked a lot together about the fact that both she and I have a very good sense of smell. So there are certain scents, you know, a certain cake, or a flower, things like that. It’s not so physical, but it’s powerful. And every spring, especially here in Rome, you have this smell of orange blossom in the air. Spring is coming and it was her favorite season. It makes me think of her.”

 

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1 Response

  • Thank you for the great article. I’ve been reading since you started via your blog house of habit.
    This one made me comment, finally. I wonder what my children will remember of me, and think of what I will remember of my mom. Touching to think about, and putting in perspective an Icon we all grew up with.

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