The Sublime Kate

If you are a Katharine Hepburn fan like I am, then get thee to NYPL’s Performing Arts Library exhibit in the Lincoln Center complex.   Love the Playbills, over-the-top movie posters, photos (my favorite was Hepburn in trousers standing on her hands), and other ephemera, but it’s the objects that bring Kate to life.

Seeing Hepburn’s makeup kit led into a conversation with a diminutive woman, stabilizing on her walker.  “She kept everything, you know,” the woman told me.  “A lock of her baby hair, her first school books.  She was an eccentric.”  While the woman didn’t know Kate personally, she saw her on the streets of the Upper East Side and went to the auction held after Hepburn passed away.  I think many New Yorkers feel ownership about Kate, even though she seemed to identify with charming Old Saybrook, CT.

You know how much I love hats, and to see the tiny, tiny hat she wore for Alice Adams, well, it didn’t look small on her.  That powerhouse on screen was teensy.  Of course, she always looked slim on celloid, but really.  The size of the pants and dresses make me feel hugely dinosauric.  Even in the late 1940s, when she was in her 40s, she had a waist size of 20 inches, and the gowns look even smaller than that.

Check out the Madwoman of Chaillot boa, and more, in the slideshow below.