“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough
to show you’re a lady.”
Edith Head (1897- 1981) may not be a name you are familiar with but I am most certain you know some of her work! Edith Head was born Edith Claire Posener on October 28, 1897. She grew up in the small desert town of Searchlight, Nevada where she developed an early sense of style by playing dress-up with her cats, dogs and the local donkeys. Edith moved to Los Angeles with her mother after her step-father and mother divorced.
Ms. Head graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley and earned a Master’s Degree from Stanford University. After completing her schooling, Edith taught French at the Hollywood School for Girls, where most of her students were daughters of big Hollywood stars. At the age of 26, Ms. Head applied for a costume designing job at Paramount Studios with the lure of a larger salary. As Edith had no formal art training, the portfolio she presented contained drawings from her fellow students from a night-school art class she often attended. She was hired on the spot but because of her lack of formal art training, her rise to the top was slow.
Eventually, Edith Head became the most noted costume designer of all time. Her commitment to personal style and class enticed women all over America to write letters to her asking for fashion advice. In 1959, Edith wrote her autobiography entitled, The Dress Doctor where she gave advice on “Getting and Keeping a Husband” and “How to Dress to Get and Keep the Job”. She pursued writing further and wrote two more books, Dress for Success in 1967, and Edith Head’s Hollywood (published posthumously) in 1983.
Ms. Head worked on over 500 films during her 44 year career at Paramount Pictures. She was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won 8, a record high for any woman. Her iconic dark, round-framed glasses, simple lines and monochromatic palette mirrored her dedication to “dress in a style that fits you both physically and emotionally”. The characterEdna Mode in Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles is based on Ms. Head, proof-positive that her legacy is still relevant and lives on to this day.
“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”
Below is a gallery of some of Edith Head’s most famous works. Please click on the image for a larger version.