HOLIDAY ( 1938 )
When discussing fashion in film, Katharine Hepburn always comes to mind. Outside of Hollywood, Katharine was known as a fashion icon to many the world over. Though she never appeared glamorous, only in certain movies, she was the one that made trousers fashionable for women. Long before jeans or long pants were made chic for females, Katharine walked around, sporting jeans and trousers, even in the days when it was considered malfeasance. Many years later, women’s trousers are now the latest trend of this day and age, and have remained so for a long time.
During her movie career, Katharine Hepburn had appeared in an array of films that represent the latest fashion of the period. For my next article, I’ve decided to present a piece on “Holiday”, a screwball comedy classic, that showcases the contemporary style of 1938.
Lavishly directed by Katharine Hepburn’s close friend and frequent director, George Cukor, “Holiday” marks the third of four vehicles that starred Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Written for the screen by Donald Ogden Stewart, the film has taken on many formats since Philip Barry’s successful 1928 play, including the original 1930 production of the same name, in which this is a remake of.
The film tells the story of Johnny Case ( Cary Grant ), a man who hails from menial beginnings, and falls in love with the rich society girl, Julia Seton, who lives a life of opulence in her families Park Avenue mansion. The two plan on marrying, and Johnny envisions his first years of marriage on holiday, while Julia and her father has business plans for Johnny. On his first visit to the Seton residence, he meets Julia’s effervescent sister, Linda ( Katharine Hepburn ) who instantly becomes enamored by Johnny, and supports his ideas of a free way of life.
Complications arise when Johnny becomes infatuated in Linda, but because she’s loyal to her sister she keeps her feelings for Johnny to herself. However, as time progresses, Johnny begins to realize that Linda is the better partner for him.
“Holiday” is not known as a fashion picture, but it does feature some really exquisite gowns, especially those worn by Katharine Hepburn and Doris Nolan, who played her sister in the movie. The costumes are not only modish, they are mainstream clothing, representing the high-class contemporary fashion of the 1930’s.
Costume designer Robert Kalloch created the gowns in “Holiday”. Robert worked for Columbia, designing many outfits for the notable screwball comedies of the era, including: “It Happened One Night”, and “The Awful Truth”. By 1938, when this was made, Kalloch had reached his pinnacle, and was known as one of Hollywood’s top designers.
Katharine Hepburn’s style in the film is a memorable and evocative example of his creative flair. In “Holiday”, Kalloch was able to really epitomize the upper class fashion by showcasing an array of different styles of formal daytime and evening wear, such as stylish and classy long jackets, fur wraps, large dressy hats, and Katharine’s beautiful black gown, that was adorned with a decorative shawl, accompanied with elaborate jewelry, which she wore during the New Years Eve party scene.
On a side note: “Holiday” was recently inaugurated as one of George Cukor’s best films, although on it’s initial release, it opened to critical acclaim. Financially the film was not a success with audiences during the great depression, struggling to find work, but it wasn’t completely panned, as it was well received by critics.
Katharine Hepburn understudied the role of Linda Seton (played by Hope Williams) in the original Broadway play. She also performed a scene from Holiday for her first screen test, which led to her first film role.
Jewelry for this film was designed and provided by Paul Flato, for years a famous jeweler to the stars.
Linda Seton: You’ve got no faith in Johnny, have you, Julia? His little dream may fall flat, you think. Well, so it may, what if it should? There’ll be another. Oh, I’ve got all the faith in the world in Johnny. Whatever he does is all right with me. If he wants to dream for a while, he can dream for a while, and if he wants to come back and sell peanuts, oh, how I’ll believe in those peanuts!
Linda Seton: You see Case, the trouble with me is that I never could decide whether I wanted to be Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, or John L. Lewis.
Linda Seton: Someone stop me; O someone please, just try and stop me!
Johnny Case: When I find myself in a position like this, I ask myself what would General Motors do? And then I do the opposite!
Katharine Hepburn: Born Katharine Houghton Hepburn on May 12th, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut. Died: June 29th, 2003 in Fenwick, Connecticut. Aged 96.
Cary Grant: Born Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18th, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England. Died: November 29th, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa. Aged 82.