Recognized as one of the greatest actresses of all time, Katharine Hepburn received 12 Best Actress nominations from the Motion Picture Academy—taking the award home four times. In addition to her stellar career on stage and screen, Hepburn became known for her distinct style, wearing trousers at a time when it still raised eyebrows. Her personal preference for relaxed, casual, but chic clothing led to a 1985 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
This exhibition, drawn from the collection of the Kent State University Museum, includes a range of costumes and fashions that were instrumental in shaping some of the most memorable characters Hepburn portrayed over her long career. Featured in the exhibition are costumes from: the stage productions of The Philadelphia Story
(1939), Without Love
(1942) and Coco
(1969); classic films, including Adam’s Rib
(1949), Stage Door
(1937) and Long Day’s Journey into Night
(1962); and television movies such as Love Among the Ruins
(1975). More than a dozen different designers are represented, including Hepburn favorites, Walter Plunkett (1902–1982) and Valentina (1899–1989), who were particularly skilled at producing elegant designs for her long-limbed, athletic figure. Some of the other designers represented include Howard Greer (1896–1974), Edith Head (1897–1981), Norman Hartnell (1901–1979), Irene (1901–1962), Ray Diffin (1922–2012), and Jane Greenwood (b. 1934). Additionally, Hepburn’s “signature look,” an ensemble of tailored beige trousers and linen jackets, will be featured, along with vintage posters, playbills, photos, and related artifacts illustrating Hepburn’s remarkable career.
Spotlighting over five decades of the star’s career, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage & Screen
provides a rich and entertaining look not only at the clothes that helped create indelible characters, but also at the importance of fashion in crafting the image of one of the most memorable performers of the 20th century.