KENT, Ohio - It was that gorgeous face. The unforgettable roles on stage and screen. A personal sense of style that broke through restrictive notions about what women could wear. It's all there in glorious detail at the Kent State University Museum exhibition "Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen."
Nominated a record 12 times for best leading actress, and winning four Oscars, Hepburn's triumphant career included roles that have become iconic in film and theatre. But her tremendous influence on modern style makes this exhibition a perfect fit for the Kent State University Museum, world renowned for its costume and fashion collection.
Museum director Jean Druesedow said years of work went into securing this treasure, some 700 pieces from the actress's personal collection of film and stage costumes, and her own signature attire. One of the museum's original benefactors - Shannon Rodgers - had worked on Hepburn's costumes for her first starring role on Broadway. That connection helped secure the gift from Miss Hepburn's estate, as she had specified the collection should go to an educational institution.
On screen and stage, Katharine Hepburn was dressed by some of the greatest designers of the 20th century: Valentina (yes, the 'a' is correct), Adrian, Walter Plunkett, Edith Head, Cecil Beaton, Coco Chanel and many others. Off screen, the independent, outspoken individualist blazed a trail for women by incorporating trousers, shirts, vests and jackets in her personal style, giving women permission to be comfortable.
The exhibition includes stage costumes from "The Philadelphia Story," "Coco," and "A Matter of Gravity." Films represented include "The Little Minister," "Adam's Rib," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "On Golden Pond."
In 1985, Hepburn won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for her lasting influence on fashion design. Over her career, she typically shunned awards presentations, but she came to that ceremony to collect the statue, presented by Calvin Klein, to honor her unique contribution to style for women.
There are numerous special events at the Kent State University Museum in connection with the exhibit which continues through next September. For more information, click here.
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