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Katharine Hepburn's costumes on display at NY Library
Oct '12
Katharine Hepburn was an icon of theater, film and fashion, where her style was both distinct and influential. Her unique fashion sense is the subject of a new exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen. The exhibition includes over 40 costumes and clothing items from Hepburn’s personal collection.

The exhibition – organized by Kent State University Museum and travelling the US - was created in conjunction with a new book released this month, Rebel Chic (published by Skira Rizzoli, 2012). Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen will be on display in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery from October 18, 2012 thru January 12, 2013 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Admission is free.

“Katharine Hepburn is one of the giants in the history of the performing arts,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleishman Executive Director of NYPL for the Performing Arts. “For her, creating a fully realized character went way beyond the words in the script. She realized the importance that her costume would have in not only defining her character but also drawing the audience into the story. This wonderful exhibition highlights this pivotal skill of a master performer.”

“What women wear today has been immeasurably influenced by Katharine Hepburn's strength of personality and insistence on wearing what she wanted,” said exhibition curator Jean Druesedow who is the Director of the Kent State University Museum. “She took charge of her career and her public image early in her career and maintained a consistent style.”

Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen includes selections from Ms. Hepburn’s personal collection of performance clothes, featuring memorable fashion items from some of her most celebrated  performances on stage and screen including: gowns from The Philadelphia Story, Adam’s Rib, and Long Day’s Journey into Night, and casual modern dress from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond.

Stage costumes designed for the star by preeminent designers Valentina, Howard Greer, Cecil Beaton, and Jane Greenwood and film and television costumes by Margaret Furse, Ruth Morley and Noel Taylor are on display in the exhibition.

Additional insight into Hepburn’s input into the garments can be seen in the exhibition through costume research, correspondence and sketches in notebooks and scripts from the Katharine Hepburn Papers that is housed in the Billy Rose Theatre Division at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  

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