Hepburn & Kardashian: Bobble Hats, Suits and A-Sexuality

The world of fashion has never been more confusing…

Do you remember a time when all you had to do was look at someone’s clothes to tell what kind of person they were?

A time before the internet, where style and fashion were slow, sluggish things that shifted through slow cycles, a painstakingly tepid merry-go round that anyone could easily jump on and off of?

Things are a little different now.

With the birth of internet celebrities; pop culture moves at a rapid pace. Looks and accessories can come in and out of vogue within a matter of hours. One minute it’s bomber jackets the next it’s deep v-necks. This dizzying kaleidoscope of styles and looks is ultimately impossible to pin down, leaving the budding fashionista with little else to do save reiterate or boldly innovate. Can you take a wild guess what most people will choose to do?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with pilfering from the past world of fashion, in fact some of the best looks comes as a result of someone splicing together long lost items to create a look that is wholly unique yet somehow instantly classic.

Take, for example, Katharine Hepburn. A woman as well known for her iconic film roles as her truly groundbreaking fashion sense. At a time when celebrities simply had to dress themselves, without the aid of fashion advisers, she made huge steps forward on behalf of all women when it came to the wearing of a-sexual outfits. Off of the film set she preferred to dress down in sportswear, one of the first in her generation to do so and setting a trend that was to be followed for decades to come.

Who do we have today that we can compare her to? Who is followed, admired and adored in such a similar way?

Looking at them from a distance, I suppose there’s little to differentiate them.

Both of them are considered to be sex symbols of their time. They both command millions of fans. And both of them have had a lasting impact on modern fashion as well as the culture that surrounds it.

There are simultaneously defining differences between the two as well. Whereas Hepburn’s focus was firmly on the film studios and the making of movies, Kim Kardashian’s has been on the buzzing LA socialite scene and reality television. Both of their personal lives may well have been documented, but none more so and with so little tact than Kim’s. Her private life has been laid bare by both the tabloids (against her will) and her own television show (at her behest). Katharine Hepburn, alternatively, was well known for being incredibly careful when it came to conducting her private life. For the majority of her 60 year long career she did not partake in interviews or even talk to fans.

But of what of these ladies’ lasting impact on the world of fashion?

From bobble hats to sheer jumpsuits to simply nothing at all, Kim Kardashian’s fashion sense is born out of the 21st Century’s demand for immediacy and sex appeal. Rising to prominence during the latter part of the noughties, she has maintained her presence as an icon of the 21st Century by being constantly in the spotlight through the use of social media and reality television. Her image is unashamedly sexual and excessively feminine, effectively creating a new form of body image to be copied and imitated around the world. Whether it’s a red carpet engagement or posing for a cover of a magazine, her curves and iconic hour-glass figure has been exaggerated and immortalised by thousands of photographs, both candid and prepared.

Hepburn’s image and impact on the world of fashion was much less appreciated during her own time. She prided herself on being different from her contemporaries, setting herself apart from the glamorous socialite scene of Hollywood which she deemed to be shallow. Angular and masculine, Hepburn’s impact on fashion can now be seen in the reclamation of men’s fashion by women, similar to the rise of ‘power-dressing’ in the 80s but with a distinctively a-sexual bent.

Although Hepburn’s story has been told, her impact can still be seen today. Kardashian’s story is being constantly updated through a string of social media and tabloid updates – it remains to be seen what her legacy will mean for future generations…

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