May 17, 2011

Book Bits: Katharine Hepburn

One of my favorite pastimes is reading biographies, specifically to devour any tidbits about what the subject wore. I recently read Katharine Hepburn's autobiography, and here's what she dished up -

1932: "I had gone to Elizabeth Hawes - New York's highest-priced designer - to have an appropriate costume made to wear getting off the train in California. It was a sort of Quaker gray-blue silk grosgrain suit. The skirt was flared and very long. The coat was rather like a nineteenth-century riding coat with tails. The blouse was a turtleneck with a ruffle around the top of the turtle. And the hat. Oh!

Well, the hat was a sort of gray-blue straw dish upside down on my head... it had been very expensive, the whole costume, and I had great faith in it."
Elizabeth Hawes, 1938

1932: "... I went to Europe fast with Luddy. On the chance that they would call me and tell me that I was a hit, I went to Schiaparelli and got myself a costume to get off the boat in. A three-quarter coat and a skirt and blouse, and a knitted hat of knit 2-purl 2. Very easy to wear... That was my first French outfit."
Schiaparelli, 1930s

1935: "We started to shoot [Alice Adams]. I had bought all the clothes for an insignificant amount of money. The only one which cost anything was from Hattie Carnegie - the party dress. I made it tacky-looking by putting little black bows on it and in my hair."
Hattie Carnegie, late 1930s/early 1940s

1951: "[For The African Queen] I had heard... that the one person to do the clothes was a Doris Langley Moore... She was a charmer and had a lot of all sorts of petticoats and underwear.

So our first meeting with her and Huston and me. He was fascinated by the underwear. I tried on every variety of split-pants, of chemise - and I was terrified that he was going to have me wear nothing but an envelope chemise in the picture".

Resources:

Hepburn, K. (1991). Me: Stories of my life. New York: Knopf.

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