Vintage Lady of the Week: KATHARINE HEPBURN

Katharine Hepburn was an odd duck. From her deep, husky voice, to her handsome (but not beautiful) looks, to her bizarre behavior, she remains some one who defies conventions. She was alternately described as strong, and stubborn; independent, and pig-headed. Besides being a phenomenal actress, she is next best known for her unofficial relationship with Spencer Tracy.

The story of Katharine Hepburn’s life, her rise to stardom, and her dalliances, is a long and twisting tale. You can find it on Wikipedia, or in a plethora of biographies. I’m just going to focus on her costumes! And -oh!- what costumes she had!

First up is this feminine tuxedo, from “Woman of the Year” (1942). Katharine Hepburn was infamous for her pants. At the time, pants were far from the norm in women’s wear. I read once that she showed up to a rehearsal once in blue jeans (gasp! the scandal!), and the director absolutely lost it. He apparently banned her from the theater until she put on a skirt, so she wrapped a burlap bag around her waist. Is it true? I have no idea, but given everything I’ve read about her behavior, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

Woman of the Year

Second is this dress from “Holiday” (1938). The dress itself is simple, not particularly close fitting, and rather plain, besides the scarf. What I find so appealing is that she was able to do a somersault from Cary Grants shoulders, and landed it! In a full length dress!!!! Mind boggling.

holiday-1938-cary-grant-katharine-hepburn-1938-3

This stunning evening dress showed up in “The Philadelphia Story” (1940). The bead work alone makes me absolutely drool. What I wouldn’t do for this dress? The sleeve are interesting as well. This is definitely on my list of things to recreate. It’s just STUNNING!!

KH Philadelphia Story

Next is this stunning lamé gown from “Bringing Up Baby”(1938). I adore this fabric, but hate working with it, so this particular dress is not really on my sewing list. The cut and construction are beautiful, and you can see the attention to detail present in it. Look at the fringe on the bodice. And, if you have seen the movie, how about that tear away panel on the skirt! 🙂

KH Bringing Up Baby

I  have this dress last, because I feel that although it is an absolutely stunning dress, it just doesn’t seem to fit with Katharine Hepburn’s personality. It seems entirely to structured, and not at all in line with the fiery independent spirit seen both in her personal life and in the character she played in “Adam’s Rib”(1949). I couldn’t find any good images of this costume in the film. But you can see how sumptuous construction is!

KH Adams Rib

Well, that’s all I have for this week. What do you think of Katharine Hepburn? What do you think is her best film?

 

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Vintage Lady of the Week: MYRNA LOY

myrna-loy

The first black-and-white movie I ever saw was “After the Thin Man”. It would be another five years until I got cable, and discovered the Turner Classic Movies channel (as far as my mother is concerned, my discovery of said channel was possibly the worst event of her life- she now has to stipulate “Made after 1986, in color, with living actors!” when I turn on the TV). But the image of Myrna Loy, with her elfin face, smartly curled hair, and witty lines, stuck with me. Imagine my glee when I found out that she had made many, MANY movies, and many of them with William Powell, who I feel is absolutely the best of her co-stars!

Myrna Loy started off her career as a dancer, and entered Hollywood before “talkies” had started. She frequently played Asian characters, or nominal chorus characters. As a matter of fact, you can spot her at the end of “The Jazz Singer”, which is a sort of bridge between the silent movies and the “talkie” movies. It wasn’t until she was cast in “The Thin Man” that her career really took off.

One thing that I hadn’t know, and that made me really happy, was that she was the first celebrity to get involved with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and was also a co-chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. While it is nice when celebrities get involved with animal rights, there is something incredibly heart warming to me about celebrities who were involved with human rights causes, before they were de rigueur.

Which is absolutely not to say that I’m not all for animal rights, too.

But I digress.

I now present you with absolutely my favorite of her costumes. Few and far between are the Myrna Loy costumes that I don’t like, so this took some concerted effort, to not just present you with a catalogue of all 500 of my favorite costumes.

The first one I have for you just has to be this lounging ensemble from “The Thin Man” (1934). I love 1930’s fashion, and I would dearly love to one day make a replica of this set. It is a silk dress with a frilled collar thing and cuffs, underneath a robe. How do I know this? At the very beginning of “After the Thin Man” (1935), we see almost the exact same robe (there is a change in the collar style), while the dress is being used to wrap a martini shaker. You can tell by that frilly collar thing. …Yes. I have watched “The Thin Man” movies so many times that I have commited them to memory….

The thin Man 1934

The Thin Man (1934)

After the Thin Man (1936).

After the Thin Man (1936)

 

Second up, I have this simple gown that looks like it has been painted onto her body with liquid latex, from “Libeled Lady” (1935). I love the fit of this dress, and the metallic sheen it has. And on Myrna Loy, it looks dynamite! If I wore it, I’d look like a stuffed sausage. ::le sigh::

ML Libeled Lady
Next I have her wonderful costumes from “After the Thin Man” (1935). She wore a few dresses that had sheer over lays dripping with embroidery. I like the way it looks, very ethereal, which seems almost contradictory in a tailored garment. I also love the hats she wears. They are … well they certainly are screwy, aren’t they!

ML Shadow of the Thin Man
Finally, I have this dressing gown, from “Third Finger, Left Hand” (1940). I always drool over beading on vintage costumes, and I am working on convincing myself that this particular beading pattern might not take TOO long. Not that I know anything about beading, but I feel like it’s good to have insane aspirations, like reproducing this piece!

ML Third Finger Left Hand

 

Is that it? It is for today. I could probably keep going, but this seams like a good stopping point.

What about you? Do you like Myrna Loy? What do you think is her best movie?