Emma Ferrer and I met on an unseasonably cold night this fall at a charming wine bar near piazza San Marco. Since her recent modelling stint for fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, Ferrer has been exposed to the unfamiliar limelight of international media attention, a slice of the fame also experienced by her grandmother, the illustrious Audrey Hepburn.
Ferrer’s background is as interesting as one would expect. Born in Switzerland but raised in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, at age 14 she moved to Italy. Most of her adolescence was spent in Florence, while attending the International School on viale Michelangelo. Growing up she never fully grasped the extent of her grandmother’s fame. Ferrer saw her simply as a woman that she wished she could have gotten to know, whose memory she cherished through her father’s stories. All of this changed earlier this year when she was offered the experience of a lifetime.
It all began when Glenda Bailey, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, contacted her. Some of the most iconic shots ever taken of Ferrer’s late grandmother were taken by international photographer Richard Avedon. Ferrer explained that Bailey’s idea was a photo shoot reminiscent of the one that yielded one of Avedon’s timeless images of Hepburn, which appeared in the April 1956 issue of Harper’s Bazaar—with Ferrer in front of the camera and Avedon’s grandson, Michael Avedon, behind it. The shoot was not meant to make the digital edition’s cover, but the results from the session were so good that it seemed like a shame not to give it the attention it deserved.
Ferrer currently lives with her father, Sean Ferrer, who was the founder and chairman of the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund and now owns a licensing company managing the intellectual property of deceased celebrities. She is studying at the Florence Academy of Art, a prestigious school that specializes in the style and techniques of the old masters. With an interest in traditional oil painting, she hopes to become a professional painter and a presence in the art world. With the Florence Academy of Art opening a New York City campus, she is planning on moving there in spring 2015. In the meantime, this November, Ferrer signed with London-based STORM modeling agency. ‘I believe that modeling will complement my fascination with aesthetics, one that I have long been expressing through my art,’ she said.
Another one of Ferrer’s major goals is to become involved in nonprofit and charity work. She is currently preparing to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps in another way, by becoming a celebrity ambassador for UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn played this role, and her work inspired others who saw that they could use their fame to raise awareness for important causes.
Noting that with these projects and goals ahead of her, the time has come for her to leave Florence. But, Ferrer says, she will always consider it home.
Favorite area of Florence?
The Santo Spirito area is my favorite, particularly the bar Volume.
If I’m in San Niccolò, then Fuori Porta or Rifrullo; if I’m closer to piazza Tasso, Aurora is another great bar.
Favorite restaurant in Florence?
For a special occasion: Caffè Cibrèo. For everyday: Trattoria La Casalinga, off piazza Santo Spirito.
Favorite day trip in Tuscany?
I really like Lucca and Siena.
What will you miss most about living in Florence?
The ease and lightness to life, the good food and being constantly submerged in both natural and historic beauty.
Any last-minute advice for study-abroad students?
Visit all the museums and churches, and try and get to know the locals! Make it the most authentic experience possible.
A shopping tip?
I usually prefer to find my way around smaller vintage stores. I’ve found a lot of really great clothes that way.