That Signature Look

ECHO underway, posted Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tailored beige trousers.  Linen jacket or red sweater.  Katharine Hepburn knew what clothes she liked and what she wore well.  And when she found a look, she ordered a number of exactly the same pieces.

At a time when an actress balanced her public persona and the characters she portrayed on stage and on screen, Katharine Hepburn created a personal look that bridged both requirements.  Clean, class, elegant, Hepburn’s look paralleled the birth and rise of the sportswear industry and the increasing economic, political, and social independence of American women.

What people wore may tell us much about cultural ideas of gender and age, wealth and self.  In the case of Katharine Hepburn, what she wore tells us much about how she saw herself—sometimes as a fictional character, sometimes as herself, sometimes as a person in the public eye. “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage And Screen,” an exhibition currently at the Kent State University Museum in Ohio, explores how Hepburn’s sense of style was influenced by the roles she played and, in turn, how that personal sense was reinvested in those roles. Museum Director Jean Druesedow offers us a tour:

Thanks to the Kent State University Museum in Kent, Ohio, for the video.