Last week Rich Malley posted about the Billings and Spencer Company complex in Hartford. He illustrated his post with an amazing watercolor done in 1898 by Hiram P. Arms, a Hartford-based illustrator. When I first saw the painting, which is quite large, I was intrigued by all of the little vignettes Arms included, as Rich pointed out, to suggest the residential nature of the neighborhood in which the complex stood. I thought it would be fun to explore a few of those small scenes this week.
2004.45.1 Women’s jacket owned by Katharine Hepburn, 1939-1957. Connecticut Historical Society. This jacket was designed by Valentina Nicholaevna Sanina, designer for plays including “The Philadelphia Story”. Sanina was born in Kiev, and owned a dress shop (Valentina Gowns) in New York during the late 1920s. Hepburn later became a personal client of Valentina’s.
The Oscar-nominated movie that is known for its many catch phrases (“The calla lilies are in bloom again”) has a few distinct connections with the Nutmeg State. Katharine Hepburn, born of Hartford, created the role of Tracy Lord on the stage in 1939, which immediately preceded the 1940 on-screen release of The Philadelphia Story. Continue reading →
Our newest exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, showcases over 40 costumes form Hepburn’s illustrious film and stage career. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its background every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?
The jeans, the mink, the glare—perfect Hepburn! Photo courtesy of the Judy Samelson collection.
Pants running. Pants standing. Best of all, pants doing a handstand. Pants are a perfect symbol of Katharine Hepburn’s unconventional approach to fashion and her exceptional Hollywood career. Decades before mainstream American women would dare to wear pants to work, Hepburn wore jeans on the studio lot in the early 1930s. The story goes that studio executives balked at her casual look (when her starlet contemporaries were dressed to the nines on set and off). They actually took away her jeans when she was busy filming in a desperate bid to make her conform to their ideas of fashion and propriety. Not to be outdone, Hepburn walked around the set in her underwear until her jeans were returned! Continue reading →
The anticipation has been building for weeks. All of us here at CHS have been excited to bring Katharine Hepburn home to Hartford in the form of an exhibition on loan from the Kent State University Museum called “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen.” Well…on Thursday of last week she finally arrived and the better part of three days has been spent unpacking, dressing, hanging, and generally preparing the exhibit to open to the public tomorrow.