Who is a style icon? An individual who redefines the rules to live on their terms and ends up changing fashion.
Born on May 12, 1907, American movie and theatrical star Katharine Hepburn changed the accepted norms of fashion and we are ever so grateful.
Called “a pioneer of the American sportswear aesthetic,” Katharine went against cultural norms and wore pants whenever she could. During the rise of her early career in the 1930s, it was illegal for women to wear pants in public. Along with Garbo, Dietrich, Britton and Wray, she and her fellow Hollywood stars worked hard to change this practice.
Although many of the images of Katharine are due to photos shot on movie or theater sets, she worked closely with the costume designers to make sure the clothes met her standards of taste and character.
“One does not design for Miss Hepburn,” the Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head once said. “One designs with her. She’s a real professional, and she has very definite feelings about what things are right for her, whether it has to do with costumes, scripts, or her entire lifestyle.”
Kate used this same sense of style in her personal life. Clothes were tailored with structure and ease to allow her to move her tall thin frame with ease. Whether traveling or on the tennis court, she wanted to be able to move without constriction.
“I was never a victim of the times I lived in. In fact, I was a success because of the times I lived in. My style of personality became the style.” Katharine Hepburn
So true! Images shot over her lifetime could be clothes worn today.
But here’s what’s important.
Before Katharine Hepburn wore them in the public eye to make them accessible, none of these clothes were considered normal or classic. Her wearing them turned them into classics they are today.
Movies to watch:
- TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story / Stage Door / Little Women / Morning Glory)
- The African Queen
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (40th Anniversary Edition)
- Tracy & Hepburn: The Signature Collection (Pat and Mike / Adam’s Rib / Woman of the Year)