Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Audrey and M.E.

Uncle Ron, Audrey Hepburn, Aunt Mary Ellen and Robert Wolders at the International Hotel in New Orleans, 1989

My Aunt Mary Ellen in New Orleans has always been a lover of classic and elegant couture clothing. But while the family budget didn’t provide for beautiful designer dresses, family talent and imagination did. M.E.’s mother, my great Aunt Helen, could whip up a Chanel suit just from a photo out of W magazine.

In 1989, my Uncle Ron was on the board for a mental health organization and at M.E.’s suggestion, he wrote a letter to Audrey Hepburn asking if she would be the guest of honor at their annual gala event. M.E. and Ron have always been diehard fans of Audrey’s. I think they’ve seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Two for the Road” maybe a thousand times. And Ron must’ve written a very good letter because Audrey said yes.

M.E. and Ron met Audrey and Robert at the New Orleans airport and escorted them to their hotel and to all the events that weekend. There was some initial nervousness about being with Audrey, but M.E. said she was down-to-earth and very gracious. “All she asked for was an ironing board and a hair dryer.”

At the gala event, Audrey and M.E. surprised each other by both wearing black and white evening dresses and the same Givenchy flower brooch. Audrey admired M.E.’s white sequined “Chanel” jacket and when M.E. told her that her mother made it, Audrey was thoroughly impressed. 

Aunt Helen sewed on each sequin by hand and added the gold chain, a la Chanel, so the jacket would hang perfectly. 

They had such a wonderful time together that evening that Audrey invited them to a party at the Baron and Baroness di Portanova’s in Houston. Which they attended and spent another weekend with Audrey and Robert. M.E. said they were in 7th heaven. The four remained friends and even now after Audrey’s death, M.E. and Robert have their phone chats.

M.E. recently gave me the “Audrey” evening dress and jacket and I was thrilled to wear it to a holiday party last year. I haven’t been invited to party with any movie stars yet, but I’m ready!


  1. Wow. Fabulous gift, indeed, what with the family lore behind it.

  2. Beautiful story. This is why I follow your blog--you truly connect style with meaning.