King Louie's icon: Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003)

A huge adversative to etiquette, a love for skirts and a huge zest for work; Katharine Hepburn turned her clothing style into a lifestyle.


1973, Katharine Hepburn is interviewed by the famous American talkshow host Dick Cavett. A first: the then 66-year-old actress has always had a bad rep with the press. Before the interview officially starts, Hepburn is busy moving chairs, whilst critisizing the color of the carpet and asks for a lower coffee table. “Are you doing this to create a dancefloor for later?” the interviewer jokes. Hepburn doesn’t think it’s funny and resolutely says “No, I want to put my feet on it.” And so, minutes later, she sits, knee raised and foot (in open-toe shoe) on the coffee table. A little anecdote that perfectly captures the quirky personality of Hepburn. That obstinacy came back in everything: her career, her private live, and of course her style. A style she made her own at a very young age and continued throughout her life.


"There was nothing small about her ego," her brother Robert says in a documentary about the actress. He says it laughingly and lovingly: after all, in the 1930s it was not common for a woman to present herself like that. She preferred to wear trousers, had no desire to have children and demanded a weekly rate of $ 1500 for her first film role - a pretty generous sum for a then unknown 25-year-old actress. And she got her way too.


Fighting spirit

This success however did not mean that she then just slipped through the cracks everywhere. In fact, her strong character sometimes actually worked against her. Katharine was different: she was independent, eccentric, tenacious, tough. This caused her to be fired regularly because others found her impossible. Yet she continued to fight for her roles. She had to and would become an actress, or even better: a star. That is why, with the help of a rich lover, she bought the film rights of a successful play and subsequently played a leading role in it. Moreover, she was hardly dependent on men. She married young, divorced six years later, did not marry anymore, but had an affair for 26 years with married actor Spencer Tracy.


Style icon

Hepburn’s career began to peak in the 1950s and 1960s; she played strong character roles and thanks to the zeitgeist she was seen less as that 'annoying rebellious woman' and more as a symbol of women's emancipation. In addition, she became known as a style icon. The wide pants with high waist, V-neck sweaters, the men's shirts with stand-up collar combined with turtle necks: it became her timeless uniform - often combined with a bright red lipstick. It was a perfect balance between resolute and feminine, stylish and practical, preppy and casual. On photos she is never afraid to pose wide-legged or laughing – which wasn’t really a common pose for women at the time. "One of the most valuable things my parents have given me is living without fear," she says in one of the few interviews. Perhaps it was that attitude that ensured that she worked as an actress for no less than sixty years and can be seen in more than fifty films. What is certain is that she did it while having a lot of fun and always in her own way. Because, to end with her own words: "if you obey the rules, you miss all the fun."


King Louie's King Louie's Asha, designer:

"Katharine Hepburn is a classic beauty. Stylish too: she wore the clothes, not the other way around. She liked to wear blouses and pants, but never frumpish. Always tasteful, feminine and tough at the same time. We always have a number of items in the collection that, when combined, achieve exactly that.”


Dress like Katharine Hepburn


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