We were a pretty healthy family,' says Sean Ferrer. 'So even when medicine can no longer do anything, it can give you notification. And that was a tremendous gift for my mother and for all of us. It meant that when the moment came, on January 20, everyone was at peace spiritually.' Audrey Hepburn died in her Swiss home, La Paisible (place of peace), on a winter's evening in 1993. Mr Ferrer, her son by her marriage to actor and producer Mel Ferrer, was with her, as was her other son, Luca Dotti, by her marriage to Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti. 'She thought she had caught a bug in Somalia, where she'd been travelling for Unicef [United Nations Children's Fund],' Mr Ferrer continues. 'Then, when we knew what was going to happen, we gathered together to say and do all the things we needed to. And so this exhibition isn't painful for me: it's a celebration.' If Hepburn had survived, she would have been 70 this year. To mark the occasion and to raise money for the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund - set up in his mother's honour by Mr Ferrer - the Ferragamo family sponsored a gala evening in New York last May. Ten copies of the original wooden last of Hepburn's foot, made by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1954, were decorated by such contemporary artists as Christo and Andres Serrano and auctioned by Sotheby's. The evening raised US$150,000 (about HK$1.16 million). At the same time, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence mounted an exhibition devoted to Hepburn's life. A condensed version, complete with couture gowns, accessories, clips of such classic Hepburn films as Funny Face and Roman Holiday and some delicious posters and photographs, will be opened by Mr Ferrer in Pacific Place on Thursday and continue until Sunday. Hong Kong will be the first place, outside Florence, where Audrey-adorers (who are legion, especially in Asia where identification with a slender, doe-eyed film star is a good deal easier than with, say, Marilyn Monroe) can have their fill of style heaven. It has not been easy to assemble Hepburn's belongings in one place. 'My mother was not a collector,' explains Mr Ferrer. 'If she had a piece of clothing from My Fair Lady, she would have given it to anyone who wanted it. She wasn't into all that.' A friend who knew both the Ferragamo family and Mr Ferrer, however, suggested that they collaborate on the project. 'And through the Ferragamo magic, they were able to gather what is the most comprehensive assembly of clothes and posters there will ever be. After this exhibition, it will go back to private hands. This is a brief, amazing journey of her life which won't be repeated.' Hepburn's travels took her through three distinct lands of experience: war, stardom and Unicef. As a child called Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston in Nazi-occupied Holland, there was never enough to eat and she lived on turnips and, occasionally, flower-bulbs. She was a waif because history, not fashion, dictated it. She was seriously ill when the war ended, and had it not been for the food parcels distributed by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (the forerunner of Unicef), Hollywood would have been deprived of her. She seems to have become a fashion icon the minute she stepped on screen. Her first film, Roman Holiday, for which she won an Oscar, is remarkable because it set a style precedent that she maintained all her life: she played a princess, and a regal air clung to her ever afterwards, whether she was acting the role of a chauffeur's daughter, a Cockney flower-girl or a nun. She wore the same outfit - a full skirt and a cotton shirt - for practically the entire film (apart from some majestic garb at the beginning and end, and a few brief, chaste moments in Gregory Peck's pyjamas and dressing gown) but she looked unbelievably chic. And she was transformed by a hairstyle, a motif which would reoccur in Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and, for obvious reasons, The Nun's Story. She had a famous working relationship with Hubert de Givenchy, a man so linked with her that he helped carry her coffin. In the catalogue which accompanied the Ferragamo exhibition in Florence, Givenchy wrote: 'She always took the clothes created for her one step further by adding something of her own, some small personal detail which enhanced the whole . . . For both of us, creating things this way was a game that we loved.' In a way, however, it was not what she added but what she subtracted which made her such a style icon. It may seem a curious thing to observe about a woman who is the subject of an exhibition devoted to her wardrobe but Hepburn believed in simplicity. The Christmas-tree school of female dressing - a bauble dangling from every limb - which is, alas, so often favoured in Hong Kong, was not her look. Eileen Bygrave, the managing director of Mondano, which operates the Salvatore Ferragamo franchise in Hong Kong and China, met Hepburn in 1990 at a lunch to celebrate the opening of the Salvatore Ferragamo boutique in Beverly Hills. 'She was wearing a dark one-piece with tiny stud earrings,' says Ms Bygrave. 'She looked so perfectly, regally simple, such a contrast to all those other women attending the lunch who were, shall we say, dressed to impress.' Hepburn was at that lunch to accept a cheque for Unicef: the absolute stylishness of her life was not confined to couture. Elizabeth Taylor, a great friend despite the fact that the two women were, in almost every aspect of their lives, polar opposites, mourned her passing by claiming 'God has a beautiful new angel now'. Mr Ferrer agrees: 'Mother was a wonderful person. People fell in love with the image of a sprite, and when they found out that she was worth that love, they loved her even more.'