Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen has been on display at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts since late October. While the actress, who passed away in 2003 at 96 years old was ‘decidedly unconventional’ in style back in the 1930s and 1940s, she is one of the most influential fashion icons in the eyes of today.
“One of the first things visitors will notice is how slender Hepburn was — she had a 20-inch waist — and a grouping of seven khaki pants artfully arranged on a pair of mannequin legs.
“”The fact that she wore slacks and wanted to be comfortable influenced women’s ready-to-wear in the United States,” said Jean Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum, which was given 700 items from Hepburn’s estate. Kent State was selected because it’s one of the country’s only museums of performance clothes.”
Katharine Hepburn was one of the first public figures in American society who strayed from the traditional girdle, stockings, and tight-dress attire customary to women’s fashion. Not only did she pave the way for the future of ready-wear attire in women’s fashion, but she showed women that they can still be beautiful and fashionable in some khaki slacks.
“Among the highlights is a stunning satin and lace wedding gown created by Howard Greer for her role as Stella Surrege in “The Lake.” The 1933 production was her first major Broadway role and also a huge flop. Writer and wit Dorothy Parker described her performance as running “the gamut of emotion from A to B.” The experience taught Hepburn to have a bigger say in what roles she accepted, said Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, curator of exhibitions at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.”
From the exhibit, you can see that when Hepburn truly admired something, she had copies made for herself in varying colors. There are a number of pieces on display that fit this description.
The display also includes film clips from a number of Hepburn’s most famous films, namely The Warrior’s Husband(1932) and Little Women(1933), her make-up, jewelry, movie posters, photos of the actress and more.