Fabulous Frocks: Katherine Hepburn in Holiday

I love old movies. If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know this. I can get a little long-winded about the comedy, the characters, the social commentary… but sometimes, all I want to do is talk about the dresses.  So every now and again, I’ll be highlighting the gorgeous gowns, the stunning shifts and the fabulous frocks that graced the cinematic screen.

Cary Grant is Johnny Case, a working-class guy who just got engaged to the beautiful and wealthy Julia Seton. Katherine Hepburn is Linda Seton, Julia’s older sister. Julia Seton is a chip off the family block—she sees life as her grandfather and father before her did: life is, basically, for accruing wealth. Linda and their brother, Ned, are less blinded by the family wealth—they just feel trapped by the obligation. Johnny’s opinions are more aligned with Linda and Ned: he’s been working since he was twelve and only wants to save enough money so he can take a holiday that will last as he can afford. As Julia and her father begin planning Johnny’s future, Johnny’s dreamed-of holiday becomes a more and more distant possibility. In a lovely to-thine-own-self-be-true moment, relationships are realigned along more compatible lines. Along with the romance in the movie, there are some very interesting views on finance and the American way expressed—kind of in keeping with those in Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You (also, oddly, released in 1938), but I’m here to talk about the dress. The rest will have to wait.

Linda sits out a Christmas party, attended by all the New York blue-bloods, in the upstairs nursery, beautifully decked out in a floor-length black velvet dress, scarf, and jewels.

Gradually, the best parts of the downstairs party make their way upstairs: Brother Ned, played by Lew Ayers…

and Professor and Mrs Potter, the fabulous Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon, all join the upstairs party.

The dress is beautiful—it’s understated and elegant and just looks so soft that I just kind of want to stroke it. The stills don’t do it justice- it’s one of those gowns that just moves so beautifully.

And who can resist a party dress in which you can do this?

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