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Posted on November 19, 2014 by Margherita Nannuzzi

In the film universe, the masculinization of female fashion invokes a kind of imaginary connected to bisexuality, and to the emancipation of women. Both fashion and films show how style and femininity change in the early 20th century. In the thirties Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn were the first women to wear trousers in Hollywood.

Travis Banton, Paramount’s Chief costume designer, designed for Marlene Dietrich some masculine suits that have become a source of inspiration for Giorgio Armani. During the filming of Morocco (Von Stenberg, 1930) Dietrich wears for a performance a black smoking and a top hat. At that time, the actress’s outfit impressed so much Gary Cooper, that he defined her “the only woman in pants and jacket looks also sexier.” Even off the set, Dietrich wore with superb elegance, suit jacket, men coat, baggy pants; articles of clothing that have helped to define Armani’s style and  that influence most women’s choices about fashion. Marlene Dietrich became symbol of the show girl, a daring woman who can lead, thanks to her charm and her body, a glamorous lifestyle; while Katherine Hepburn was the star of screwball and brilliant comedy. Her style was as much anti conventional: she didn’t wear skirts, but “Katherine’s pants” with long waist and white socks, she preferred men’s shirts and she loved the blazer. Her velvet smoking worn in Women of the year (Stevens, 1942) will inspire, twenty years on, Yves Saint Laurent’s female tuxedo.