From androgynous trousers with a 20-inch waist to showstopping goddess gowns, Katharine Hepburn"s style celebrated in new exhibition

From androgynous trousers with a 20-inch waist to showstopping goddess gowns, Katharine Hepburn's style celebrated in new exhibition

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UPDATED:

17:44 GMT, 18 October 2012

Hollywood legend, Katharine Hepburn was an early pioneer of androgynous fashion, appearing on set dressed in high-waisted pants and button-down shirts.

And now a new exhibition, which opened in New York today, pays homage to the late actress' chic sense of style, which was decidedly unconventional in the Thirties and Forties, when feminine dresses were the order of the day.

Curators say one of the first things visitors to the Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen exhibit will note, is how slender the American star was, as she had just a 20-inch waist.

Pushing the boundaries: The late Katharine Hepburn, pictured in the stage version of The Philadelphia Story in the Thirties, was an early pioneer of androgynous fashion

Pushing the boundaries: The late Katharine Hepburn, pictured in the stage version of The Philadelphia Story in the Thirties, was an early pioneer of androgynous fashion

The display, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, featuring forty items of Hepburn's clothing, will run through to January 12.

Hepburn,
who died in 2003 at age 96, saved almost all the costumes from her long
career that included four Oscars and such memorable films as The
Philadelphia Story, The African Queen,Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and
On Golden Pond.

She also had an impressive personal
collection and a grouping of seven khaki pants artfully arranged on a
pair of mannequin legs, illustrate her personal sense of style.

The fiercely independent Hepburn
famously once said: 'Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a
skirt, I say, “Try one. Try a skirt.”

Influential style: Hepburn was a big fan of high-waisted slacks and jodhpurs

Influential style: Hepburn was a big fan of high-waisted slacks and jodhpurs

A suit worn during publicity photos for the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,

Actress Katharine Hepburn strolls down a country lane on location near London during the filming of their made for TV movie, The Corn Is Green, in this Jan. 23, 1979 file photo

Chic: A suit worn during publicity photos for the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (left) and Hepburn pictured walking down a country lane near London during the filming of The Corn Is Green, in 1979 (right)

Jean Druesedow, co-curator of the exhibition and director of the Kent State University Museum, which was given 700 items from Hepburn's estate, said: 'The fact that she wore slacks and wanted to be comfortable influenced women's ready-to-wear in the United States.

'That
image said to the American woman `Look you don't have to be in your
girdle and stockings and tight dress. You can be comfortable. That was
probably the first aspect of becoming a fashion icon.'

The
strong-willed actress known for taking charge of her career worked
closely with all her designers to decide her performing wardrobe.

'They understood what would help her
characters, what she would feel comfortable wearing… how it would
support the story,' Druesedow said.

Stella Surrege in The Lake Katherine Hepburn

A white satin and lace wedding dress by Howard Greer, from the 1934 production of