Actress Katharine Hepburn’s fashions showcased at The Frick Pittsburgh
Adjectives used to describe the late, great actress Katharine Hepburn include independent, spirited, confident and quick-witted.
She received 12 Best Actress nominations from the Motion Picture Academy, taking four awards home for performances in “Morning Glory” (1933), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), “The Lion in Winter” (1968) and “On Golden Pond” (1981).
Local residents will have a chance to see her costumes from these films, as well as other garments from her personal collection, at The Frick Pittsburgh in Point Breeze.
“Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage & Screen” opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 12. It features a range of her costumes and fashions from 1933 to 1986.
Become a member of the Frick and be among the first to experience Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage & Screen during a daylong, members-only preview on Friday, Oct. 18 at The Frick Art Museum. https://t.co/Mz3BknR9pI pic.twitter.com/4czseIgvbu
— The Frick Pittsburgh (@TheFrickPgh) October 15, 2019
“This is a wonderful exploration of the career and fashions of Katharine Hepburn,” said Sarah Hall, chief curator and director of collections at The Frick Pittsburgh. “What you find when you come into this exhibition is a wonderful range of fashion.”
The exhibit features 37 costumes along with other items of clothing related to her career on stage and screen. Other pieces include garments from her personal wardrobe, accessories, cosmetics, photo collages of film stills, movie posters, lobby cards, and press books.
There are looks from stage productions “The Philadelphia Story” (1939), “Without Love” (1942) and “Coco” (1969), and classic films including “Stage Door” (1937), “Adam’s Rib” (1949) and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” (1962) and the television movie “Love Among the Ruins” (1975).
Hepburn’s signature style – an ensemble of tailored beige trousers and linen jackets — also is part of the exhibition and was drawn from the collection of the Kent State University Museum. She wore custom-made pants before many women ventured into that style.
“She was known to be very athletic, and her personality was candid with a can-do attitude of, ‘I will take care of things myself,’” Hall said. “Pants were a part of that. They were about comfort, about flexibility. One of the great quotes I read about her was, ‘She never sat in a chair if there was an inch of floor.’ ”
There are a pair of inverted pants upside down, a reflection of a Life Magazine article where she was shown standing on her head.
More than a dozen designers are represented, such as Howard Greer (1896-1974), Edith Head (1897-1981), Valentina (1899-1989) and Muriel King (1900-1977).
Hepburn was known for working with a designer to create the look that fit her body well, while perfectly portraying the character she was playing.
The evening gown King designed for Hepburn for “Stage Door” is one of the pieces in the exhibition, as is a satin and lace wedding dress made by Greer for the actress to wear in the play “The Lake.”
“The gown is stunning,” Hall said. “It’s an incredible satin dress. I call it Art Deco embodied in a dress design. It’s exquisitely beautiful and feminine but it’s so simple and perfect for her figure. At 5-foot-7, she was tall for the time and designers loved creating things that emphasized her long legs, tiny waist and elegant figure.”
Tickets are $15.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .