23 November 2012

Katharine Hepburn: A true fashion rebel

When we think of 1930's and 1940's fashion we think of long dresses, siren suits and corsets that made you unable to eat another piece of cake, thank god we don't have to deal with that situation anymore. Katharine Hepburn did not conform to the prim style of the time, with her high-waisted pants and button-down shirts she was an early style icon of androgynous fashion. Now her fabulous style is being celebrated in an exhibition in New York called Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen.

Katharine is a Hollywood legend and is famous for films including 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' and 'The Philadelphia Story'. Her career spanned sixty years on stage, screen and television and she was known for her independence playing characters that were often strong and sophisticated women. She died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 96 and had saved almost all of the costumes from her films, including 'The African Queen' and 'On Golden Pond'. The display at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts which runs till the 12th January, contains some fabulous looks, including her personal collection of seven khaki pants arranged on mannequin legs.
Influential style: Hepburn was a big fan of high-waisted slacks and jodhpurs
A suit worn during publicity photos for the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,Katharine famously once said: 'Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say, try one, try a skirt.' You go girl, I totally agree with you, although the thought of Mr. Boyfriend in a skirt is just a tad disturbing.

Her originality in wearing what was different to the norm influenced American women and showed them that you don't have to wear a girdle, stockings and a tight dress. You can actually be comfortable, thank god for her otherwise we'd all have to say bye bye to our hoodies and onesies.

She worked closely with all her designers to help create her performing wardrobe. If she really liked the costume she would have copies made for herself, sometimes in different colours or fabrics. She had a silk dress and coat made by Norman Hartnell from 'Suddenly, Last Summer' copied and a green raw silk jumpsuit by Valentina from 'The Philadelphia Story'. Katharine shopped at the major cutting-edge New York couturiers and worked with the best costume shops of the time, including Muriel King and Valentina. She really appreciated quality fabric and good construction and even her trousers were couture. No Primark for this lady.

A white satin and lace wedding dress by Howard Greer, from the 1934 production of
Howard Greer, 1934
Stella Surrege in The Lake Katherine Hepburn The exhibition contains 700 gems from her estate including a gorgeous stunning satin and lace wedding gown created by Howard Greer for her role as Stella Surrege in The Lake. One of my favourites of the collection is a beautiful gown made by Muriel King from the 1937 RKO movie Stage Door, which is feminine yet comfy and I'm sure showed of Katharine's twenty inch waist amazingly. Yes ladies, she did have a twenty inch waist, but remember Fox's biscuits weren't around then, or Domino's.

The main thing she cared about was being comfortable and always wore her signature look made up of khaki's and a shirt to rehearsals and publicity appearances. Katharine did cause some controversy  amongst RKO executives, who once hid her trousers in an effort to persuade her to abandon them. In retaliation she threatened to walk around the lot naked, well to be honest if I had a twenty inch waist I would find any excuse to show it off, wouldn't you? In the end she only stripped down as far as her silk underwear before stepping out of her dressing room, but she made her point and got her trousers back.

The exhibition also contains film clips, movie posters and archival photographs of the lovely lady wearing her beautiful outfits. False eyelashes, make up trays and her sensible shoes are also on display. If you are unable to go to the exhibition like me (sadly I just can't afford the plane fare, especially after my recent Asos spree) you can drool over her style by reading the book that has been launched to accompany the exhibition. Katharine Hepburn: Rebel Chic can be found here on Amazon.co.uk or for all you lovelies across the pond here at Amazon.com. I suggest you all indulge or at least put it on your list to Father Christmas, it's never too early.

Katharine was a true style icon and showed that you don't have to follow the crowd, you can wear what you want and be comfortable in doing so. So I'm taking inspiration from her today, monkey pyjamas and fluffy slippers it is then.

Second Hand Rose

11 November 2012

A huge big fat Remembrance squeeze

Today (the 11th November) the country was silent for two minutes to remember all those totally amazing people who have and continue to lose their lives for our little island. In World War One around 703,000 men lost their lives in a war that was so terrible and in World War Two 298,950 died, not to mention over 64,000 people killed at home. There were also millions injured and sadly today we have lost 394 troops in Afghanistan and a 179 in Iraq killed in action, this doesn't even include the people left injured. These may seem just like numbers, but that is over one million six hundred families that have lost a loved one. Shockingly, there has only been one year since World War Two where a British Serviceman or woman has not been killed in conflict. Just a little bit of trivia from me to you. Actually it's my Dad's Trivia, his other snippet is just far too boring to even mention.

Sadly and I hate to admit that I am part of a generation of people that just see those numbers as useless facts to learn for our history GCSE exam and not lives lost. I'm not saying that everyone doesn't appreciate them, I just don't think they get enough recognition by us all sometimes.

Today I snuggled down in my monkey PJs, with my cat and some chocolate biscuits to watch the lovely David Dimbleby present the coverage on the Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph. While wondering if the Duchess of Cambridge had a Philip Treacy hat on, (she did have by the way), I saw the line of the veteran troops walking proudly in their uniforms and every year the line sadly gets shorter and shorter. One day there will be no Great Uncle Albert left to tell us about what happened during the War.

Those veterans may not look like young nineteen year olds now, but they once were. Sadly unlike teenagers nowadays they spent their days fighting for us, not playing on an Xbox or downing a bottle of wine in 5 seconds. They didn't have the freedom to stay in bed till 2pm and doss around all day, they were out in the cold fighting a war not knowing when or whether they were going to see their family again.

Women were lucky if they saw their man once a year and now us girls moan and spend hours on the phone to our girlfriends debating why we haven't heard from a guy all day.
In World War One women felt helpless, but in the second war women went to work in factories doing dangerous jobs filling in for the men, helping the military and working on the land getting their manicured hands dirty.
With that bought shorter hemlines and trousers, so along with keeping the country together we have those women to thank for us being able to wear trousers and get away with not shaving for two weeks.

So on behalf of my generation may I offer all you men and women a great big fat cuddle and a huge thank you. Without you we may never have had The Only Way is Essex and the Spice Girls. I mean can you imagine a life without them?

Second Hand Rose