You cannot even have a discussion about Fashion, without somehow mentioning Edith Head! Even if her name may not be mentioned, the mere fact of her style is always often referred to! ALWAYS!
Who is Edith Head? Born on October 28, 1927 and died 4 days before her 84th birthday on October 24, 1981. She was an iconic American costume designer, known in Hollywood for setting the history of being bestowed with 8 Academy awards for a woman! Her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame; is evidence of her brillance, shown through her work.
Let me just say, that Edith Head had a total of 35 nominations for costume design! She was known as the designer for the leading ladies in Hollywood’s, the female stars during the 40’s and 50’s! I am an old movie buff, I love the clothing designs depicted and they never seem to go out of style. Edith Head played a major role in this. Often when looking at a movie starring Ginger Rogers, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor <to name a few>, the movie goers would often memorize what they were wearing; anxiously awaiting Vogue patterns to be released for everyone to sew!
Although Edith Head, first was employed by Paramount, she was a sort out designer out of the studio! A ‘must have’ phenomena! She later worked for Universal Studios. These were America’s top filming studios and as television productions were beginning to be introduced, her talent was often requested, making her a famous television costume designer too!
It is very important to know how film concepts are created and how it always comes back to Fashion. Edith Head’s trademark were her dark glasses and Dutch boy hair cut. She had very pale porcelain skin. This look was not considered Hollywood glam and because it was different, her fame made it her trademark. This made it acceptable and was considered the “Edith Head Look”. Later she would change her style a bit, emulating an Asian style with a chignon; however she was always recognizable.
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” Mode who was also a fashion designer in the film, designing the costumes of the super-hero family. Similarities were set purposely.
Edna E Mode
The character’s round glasses paid a perfect and undoubtably homage to Edith Head! Edna E Mode will be assisting me through the year too! So when you see her picture, she will be providing some great tips! Now also, even the Academy Award winning actress Linda Hunt reminds you also of Edith Head, for she wears the Dutch-boy hair cut and black rounded glasses in her character, she is part of the cast of CBS’s NCIS Los Angeles.
How about Fashion designer Christian Siriano? His dark glasses; they pay homage too! <I love his work also, icon in the making too!>.
There have been theatre plays about Edith Head, about her life, books written, many commentaries on the era she represented. Her work was absolutely extraordinary in my opinion. So when discussing fashion designers, you cannot forget her, for Edith Head’s designs are still present today; it’s truly timeless. Although set in the 1960’s, AMC’s Mad Men reminds you of her designs too!
As we are approaching Fashion Week soon, this leads to my segway <smile>, I wanted to speak about the book, I just finished: Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer by Jay Jorgensen (publ. 10/2010).
If interested in learning more about the costume designer and see true depictions of her work across the board, I recommend this book! Nicely done and it’s hardcover.
The photography and the beautiful illustrations depicted would be a great book to give to a young designer or anyone intrigued by the 1940 – 1950’s Fashions; Edith Head was a contributor! If you are unable to buy the book, please go to http://www.youtube.com and search for Edith Head, there are a few informative videos available too!
Update! 10/28/2013 marks Edith Head’s 116th birthday, Google has celebrated by making their banner all about Edith’s designs!
Be Well – Letia 🙂
*Photo of Edith’s Head sketch for Lucille Ball provided by Lucy_Fan’s photostream, Edna E Mode photo by Disney for Pixar Films and book cover photo by Amazon.com.