Today is the 123rd birthday of the woman who made more influence on mid-century fashion than all the fashion designers of the time combined: Edith Head. If you are a fan of classic movies and pay attention to scenery and costuming, you already know her. She had THE influence on American style before clothing designers were known. A quick search for her on IMDB will soon have you realizing that her touch was added to most of the films that you know and love. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Edith Head
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1897
DEATH DATE: October 24, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Bernardino, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
REMAINS: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1950 (Black & White) for The Heiress
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1951 (Black & White) for All About Eve
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1951 (Color) for Samson and Delilah
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1952 (Black & White) for A Place in the Sun
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1954 (Black & White) for Roman Holiday
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1955 (Black & White) for Sabrina
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1961 (Black & White) for The Facts of Life
OSCAR for Best Costume Design 1973 for The Sting
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 6504 Hollywood Blvd (motion pictures)
BEST KNOWN FOR: Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards.
Edith Head became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, her costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).
Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.
As part of a series of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in February 2003, commemorating the behind-the-camera personnel who make movies, Head was featured on one to honor costume design.
The band They Might Be Giants recorded the song “She Thinks She’s Edith Head,” which was included in the 1999 album Long Tall Weekend and the 2001 album Mink Car. The song is about a girl from the singer’s past, who had changed her persona to be more sophisticated, and compares her new attitude to Head and longtime Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown.
You can have whatever you want if you dress for it.
To many viewers of the 2004 Pixar/Disney computer-animated film The Incredibles, the personality and mannerisms of the film’s fictional superhero costume designer Edna Mode suggest a colorful caricature of Edith Head. Edna Mode’s sense of style, round glasses, and assertive no-nonsense character are very likely a direct homage to Head’s legendary accomplishments and personal traits. But the film’s director, Brad Bird, has not yet confirmed or denied this.
Among the actresses Edith Head designed for were:
Mae West in She Done Him Wrong, 1933; Myra Breckinridge, 1970; Sextette, 1978
Frances Farmer in Rhythm on the Range, 1936, and Ebb Tide, 1937
Dorothy Lamour in The Hurricane, 1937; in most of “The Road” movies.
Paulette Goddard in The Cat and the Canary, 1939
Veronica Lake in Sullivan’s Travels, 1941; I Married a Witch, 1942
Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve and Ball of Fire, both 1941; Double Indemnity, 1944
Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark, 1944
Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell in The Uninvited, 1944
Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, 1946
Betty Hutton in Incendiary Blonde, 1945; The Perils of Pauline, 1947
Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter, 1947
Bette Davis in June Bride (1948); All About Eve, 1950
Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, 1949
Hedy Lamarr and Angela Lansbury in Samson and Delilah, 1949
Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, 1950
Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun, 1951; Elephant Walk, 1954
Joan Fontaine in Something to Live For, 1952
Carmen Miranda in Scared Stiff 1953
Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, 1953; Sabrina, 1954; Funny Face, 1957
Ann Robinson in The War of the Worlds, 1953
Grace Kelly in Rear Window, 1954; To Catch a Thief, 1955
Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas, 1954
Jane Wyman in Lucy Gallant, 1955
Shirley MacLaine in Artists and Models, 1955; The Matchmaker, 1958; What a Way to Go!, 1964
Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956
Anne Baxter in The Ten Commandments, 1956
Marlene Dietrich in Witness for the Prosecution, 1957
Rita Hayworth in Separate Tables, 1958
Kim Novak in Vertigo, 1958
Sophia Loren in That Kind of Woman, 1959
Rhonda Fleming in Alias Jesse James, 1959
Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger, 1963; Sex and the Single Girl, 1964; Inside Daisy Clover, 1965; The Great Race, 1965; Penelope, 1966; This Property Is Condemned, 1966; The Last Married Couple in America, 1980
Tippi Hedren in The Birds, 1963; Marnie, 1964
Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park, 1967
Claude Jade in Topaz, 1969
Katharine Hepburn in Rooster Cogburn, 1975
Jill Clayburgh in Gable and Lombard, 1976
Valerie Perrine in W.C. Fields and Me, 1976
Among the actors Edith Head designed for were:
Danny Kaye in White Christmas, 1954
Steve Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, 1982