Finding the Tomboy in Houghton
Just as visual artists continued to be inspired by the old masters, designer Katharine Polk has found no limit in inspiration from iconic screen star Katharine Hepburn, the namesake for her brand Houghton. Drawing upon the actress’s unique meld of tomboy toughness with graceful femininity, as well as a healthy dose of Old Hollywood chic, Polk’s newest collection is one that synthesizes these elements with the more elegant innovations of contemporary ready to wear. Wraparound panels were the essential ingredient behind a variety of the pieces, such as the enveloping cloaks and shawls with matching pants and the evening gowns with pointed shoulder pads. Yet texture was also one of the more important elements, noticeably crucial in pieces like the sheer lace overalls and thick fur-padded scarves. We spoke to Polk backstage after her show to discuss the evolution of her brand, as well as what the essential Katharine Hepburn look entails.
So besides your muse Katharine Hepburn, what were some of the influences behind this collection?
This season I wanted it to be very military, a little 90’s in the beauty, and those two influences got mixed together in a pot.
It seemed that the fabrics in this collection were more of a focus than in your Spring/Summer collection…
For sure, textures were very important to me this season. I always get inspired by the fabrics. I start out with Katharine and the silhouettes from my last collection on the board, then I play off of how the looks evolved since last season. When I start feeling fabrics and see what’s coming in, it always seems to go back to lace, I always need lace for a Houghton collection. This season I really expanded on that, and I’ve had so much feedback from how people really love how we’ve been working with lace. So I tried to play with that and use it in a textural way and really layer it over different fabrics. For example, the baseball jacket with silver felt mixed with leather, and the cocktail dress with a wool lace over silk.
For those that sadly wouldn’t know who Katharine Hepburn is, what would you recommend as a good starting point into her style and personality?
Definitely Bringing Up Baby. Besides the fact that the movie has a leopard in it, I think her costumes in that movie are the most amazing in her whole career. It’s definitely my favorite, I have so many of those outfits on my board. I love how her tomboy aesthetic still shines through when she’s wearing an evening gown; that’s probably my biggest inspiration from her.
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