Don’t ask me why, but this outfit reminds me of Katharine Hepburn’s inimitable silhouette. It must be the trousers, or the deceptively masculine leather aviator jacket, I don’t know, but there is something about this look that reminds me of her role as an aviator in the 1933 film “Christopher Strong”. The ensemble gives me an air of the androgynous and sporty Great Kate.
What a personality, come to think of it! Her more than progressive parents both women’s rights activists in their own right – her father, a doctor, an advocate for the Pill, her mother, a feminist campaigner. Katharine Hepburn herself was one of the first actresses to wear trousers on screen and break away from traditional social norms about what it meant to be a woman of her time. Her tone, her independence, her silhouette, strayed far from the dominant principles of the time, gave way to a multi-dimensional and avant-garde image, still very much valid today.
While we are talking about this completely out-of-the-box actress, we should discuss the film “The Philadelphia Story”, directed in 1940 by George Cukor.
It is a comedy whose intrigue is simple: Tracy Lord (the Great Kate), a young woman from a high-class Philadelphia socialite family is set to remarry George, a businessman – who is completely bland. Tracy’s first husband, Dexter, played by Cary Grant, invites himself to the party and introduces a gossip-seeking journalist, Mike Connor, played by James Stewart. George, the insipid fiancé, sees his bride as a perfect goddess, whereas Dexter and Mike see in her a woman of flesh and blood. A love triangle develops between Dexter, Mike and Tracy. Let the party begin!
Katharine Hepburn had starred in the Broadway play for about a year before proposing the idea to MGM studios as she had purchased the rights to the film adaptation of the play. At the time, she decided this script would release her from the “Box Office Poison” list, a published list of certain actors who were deemed an unprofitable burden to film studios. It was she who chose George Cukor to direct, even though MGM added two headliners – James Stewart and Cary Grant – to secure the investment.
The film was a resounding success, and with good reason…
Katharine Hepburn’s comedic skills were killer. Nervous, aggressive, irritable, she comes face to face with a perfectly enamored James Stewart and imperial and phlegmatic Cary Grant– with whom she had previously worked in “Bringing Up Baby”.
The film is funny, witty, and the basis of the successful remake musical by the same MGM studios sixteen years later titled “High Society”, starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Cosby.
Both versions are excellent, though different. Today, I prefer that of the Great Kate.
Massimo Dutti jacket – Fabiana Filippi top – Banana Republic trousers – Waiting For The Sun sunglasses