Monday, 14 September 2015

Edith Head the Grand Dame of Costume Designing

Edith Head was one of the greatest costume designers in Old Hollywood. She was certainly one of the most prolific! She began her career in Paramount Studios in 1924 as a sketch artist for the costume department despite having no experience. In fact, Head revealed that she borrowed sketches from friends who were artists to present at her interview... the cheeky madame!
Lucky for us, when Paramount Studios found out she couldn't draw they laughed it off and told her she better learn how to quick smart... I can't imagine that happening today.

After 44 monumental years Edith moved on to head Universal Studio's costume department at the age of 70. Possibly as a result of Alfred Hitchcock's move there as they collaborated on many movies together. She continued to design for Universal until her death at age 83 in 1981.

She was nominated for a whopping 35 Oscars and won 8 which is a phenomenal amount considering that the world of movies was completely dominated by men.

Edith is responsible for some of the most iconic dresses in Hollywood history. She worked with every major starlet of the time and became great friends with many of them. You can guarantee that if you are watching a movie with Edith Head designs then you are in for a real visual treat.

With Gloria Swanson with whom she worked on Sunset Boulevard (a personal favourite of mine!)

 Apparently Edith Head was the inspiration for superhero designer Edna from Pixar movie The Incredibles... there's only a slight resemblance right?

Edith Head with a model in 1955

Barbara Stanwyck in a 1930's stunning creation

Edith head won an Oscar for her costumes in Elizabeth Taylor's movie: A Place In The Sun. In fact, this design caused an explosive fashion trend with women everywhere clamouring to wear similar dresses to their proms and weddings. It's instantly recognisable as what we refer to today as a vintage prom dress. 
It's one of the styles we get asked for most so you could say we can be thankful to Edith Head for Dirty Fabulous!!!

Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief


Ginger Rogers in Lady In The Dark

Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas .... Another favourite movie!

Edith's sketches were incredibly beautiful. It's amazing to see how all the little details drawn could be constructed into fabulous dresses worthy of Hollywood!

 Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. 

Even though Edith Head won an Oscar for the costumes in Sabrina it caused quite a controversy as it's said that many of the outfits worn were designed by a young Hubert de Givenchy. Edith dismissed this and accepted the award solo. (another audacious move by Head!) 

Edith Head worked with Grace Kelly on several movies which included creating this dress for Rear Window. It's often considered one of the most beautiful in cinematic history.

Again, it astounds me how Edith's brilliant sketches are transformed into wearable pieces.
This one is of Shirley MacLaine in What A Way To Go. 

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