Iconic Designer: Edith Head

This woman first caught my eye through Google doodle when they celebrated her birthday by posting the below picture. Edith Head (October 28, 1897 – October 24, 1981) was an American costume designer who had a bachelor of arts degree in letters and sciences with honors in French from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master of arts degree in romance languages from Stanford University.
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Edith Head enjoyed a lustrous career as a costume designer in Hollywood, designing wardrobes for over fifty years. She began her career as a sketch girl at Paramount in l924 (where she stayed for 44 years) and on to Universal Pictures where she remained until her death. At a time of male domination in Hollywood, she became the first design head. Nominated 35 times for the Academy Award and winning a record eight times, it’s often said “Gowns by Edith Head” is one of the most noted screen credits in movie history (a record of 1100 films). She also is noted for one of my favorite Hollywood quotes, “I have yet to see one completely unspoiled star, except for Lassie.”
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Head was known for her low-key working style and, unlike many of her male contemporaries, usually consulted extensively with the female stars with whom she worked. As a result, she was a favorite among many of the leading female stars of the 1940s and ’50s, such as Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Sophia Loren, Barbara Stanwyck, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Baxter, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Natalie Wood. In fact, Head was frequently “loaned out” by Paramount to other studios at the request of their female stars. Head designed for films such as Sunset Boulevard, Vertigo, Marnie, All About Eve, A Place in the Sun, Roman Holiday, To Catch a Thief, Funny Face, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sabrina…and the list goes on. A favorite of Alfred Hitchcock, the director played an integral role on costume development. Head notes, “He has a complete phobia about what he calls ‘eye-catchers,’ like a scene with a woman in bright purple or a man in an orange suit. Unless there is a story reason for a color, we keep the colors muted because Hitchcock believes they can detract from an important action scene.

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Audrey Hepburn and finished product above

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Designs for Joan Crawford

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Costume design for Sabrina by Edith Head

Costume design for Sabrina by Edith Head

Joan Fontaine in SEPTEMBER AFFAIR (1950 Paramount).

Joan Fontaine in SEPTEMBER AFFAIR (1950 Paramount).

 

Edith Head costume design sketch for Vera Miles from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - (Paramount, 1962)

Edith Head costume design sketch for Vera Miles from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – (Paramount, 1962)

Edith Head costume design sketch for Kim Novak from Vertigo - (Paramount, 1958)

Edith Head costume design sketch for Kim Novak from Vertigo – (Paramount, 1958)

Sketch by Edith Head for Lucille Ball.

Sketch by Edith Head for Lucille Ball.

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Grace Kelly

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Sketch for Bette Davis in All About Eve

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Sketch for Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief and finished product below

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This original sketch, autographed by Head, features a costume to be worn by actress Jeanmaire in Anything Goes (1956). Image via Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Reasearch.

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Sketch for Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali

 Edith Head costume sketch for Natalie Wood

Edith Head costume sketch for Natalie Wood

Costume design by Edith Head for Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in The Sun (1951)

Costume design by Edith Head for Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in The Sun (1951)

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

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Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

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Although, Edith Head died in 1981, she was sort of reincarnated in 2004 by Disney for Pixar Films in The Incredibles!  The character Edna “E” Modewho was also a fashion designer in the film, designing the costumes of the super-hero family.  Similarities were set purposely.

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3 thoughts on “Iconic Designer: Edith Head

  1. Pingback: Bette Davis – Style Icon | waldina

  2. Pingback: Waist Idols and How to Get Waisted |

  3. Pingback: Happy 107th Birthday Bette Davis | waldina

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