Edith Head is widely considered the most important figure in the history of Hollywood costume design. The glamour and style of her creations continue to inspire generations of designers.
In 1924, despite lacking art design or costume design experience, Head was hired as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures in the costume department. She worked at Paramount for 44 years, until she went to Universal Pictures in 1967 where she remained until her death in 1981.
During her nearly half a century career she contributed to more than 1,000 films, was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won eight times – more Oscars than any other woman. In those years she dressed almost every major star who shone in the industry and, with her straight-cut bangs, dark glasses and tailored suits as her trademark, became more famous than most of them. In the 2004 film The Incredibles, the character of Edna (a costume designer) was based on her.
Head shied away from trendy or outlandish designs in order to keep the films she costumed from looking dated. In one sense, Head's designs were anything but groundbreaking, but she managed to preserve a sense of timelessness nonetheless.
In addition to her film work, she designed Vogue sewing patterns; toured the country staging Hollywood fashion shows; wrote magazine and newspaper columns; was America’s favourite fashion maven on Art Linkletter’s House Party; wrote two books; and audio taped hours of interviews in preparation for her autobiography, Edith Head’s Hollywood.
She was quoted as saying, “The cardinal sin is not being badly dressed, but wearing the right thing in the wrong place.”
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