Fashion

Edith Head (1897 - 1981)

Certainly the most important Hollywood costume designer of all time, the “Dress Doctor”, her so called tip book, is responsible for some of the most memorable film wardrobes in history. Interestingly, she became a true fashion authority for many American women, conveying timeless styling tips. Is it because she studied French culture in Stanford University that she has this uncanny sense of couture but when she started to work for Hollywood studios she almost knew nothing about costume design. She gained public attention for the top mink-lined gown she created for Ginger Rodgers in Lady in the Dark in 1944 and became a favorite among the leading female stars of the 50s such as Bette Davis, Shirley MacLaine, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Her record-breaking run of fifteen Award nominations and eight wins made her the more Oscar awarded Hollywood woman ever. With her black glasses and fringe, she had this very modern peculiar look, reminding of those fashion influential ladies such as Diana Vreeland or Isabella Blow whose business was to sell beauty and whose own beauty was glamorously coarse.

Grace Kelly in her ceremonial Oscar dress by Edith Head, Life Magazine 1955. Photo by Philippe Halsman
Grace Kelly in her ceremonial Oscar dress by Edith Head, Life Magazine 1955. Photo by Philippe Halsman
Edith Head’s costume for Tippi Hedren in The birds directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1963
Edith Head’s costume for Tippi Hedren in The birds directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1963
Edith Head’s costume for fette Davis in All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz, Bette Davis 1950
Edith Head’s costume for fette Davis in All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz, Bette Davis 1950
Edith Head drawing for Elizabeth Taylor in A place in a sun directed by George Stevens, 1951
Edith Head drawing for Elizabeth Taylor in A place in a sun directed by George Stevens, 1951
Edith Head’s costume for Elizabeth Taylor in A place in a sun 1951 with Montgomery Clift directed by George Stevens
Edith Head’s costume for Elizabeth Taylor in A place in a sun 1951 with Montgomery Clift directed by George Stevens
Edith Head has been nominated 35 times for an Oscar, winning 8 for The Heiress directed by William Wyller 1949, Samson et Delilah directed by Cecil.B.DeMille 1949, All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz 1950, A place in a sun directed by George Stevens 1951, Roman Holidays directed by William Wyller 1953, Sabrina directed by Billy Wilder 1954, The facts of Life directed by Melvin French and Norman Panama 1960, The Sting directed by George Roy Hill 1973
Edith Head has been nominated 35 times for an Oscar, winning 8 for The Heiress directed by William Wyller 1949, Samson et Delilah directed by Cecil.B.DeMille 1949, All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz 1950, A place in a sun directed by George Stevens 1951, Roman Holidays directed by William Wyller 1953, Sabrina directed by Billy Wilder 1954, The facts of Life directed by Melvin French and Norman Panama 1960, The Sting directed by George Roy Hill 1973
Edith Head, Self portrait and autograph
Edith Head, Self portrait and autograph
Edith Head and Audrey Hepburn 1953. Photo by Bob Willoughby
Edith Head and Audrey Hepburn 1953. Photo by Bob Willoughby
Edith Head and Gloria Swanson on the set of Sunset Blvd. directed by Billy Wilder, 1950
Edith Head and Gloria Swanson on the set of Sunset Blvd. directed by Billy Wilder, 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head tweaks a costume for Here Come the Waves directed by Mark Sandrich, 1944
Edith Head tweaks a costume for Here Come the Waves directed by Mark Sandrich, 1944
Edith Head, 1950's
Edith Head, 1950's
Edith Head drawing for Zizi Jeanmaire in Any thing goes directed by Robert Lewis, 1956
Edith Head drawing for Zizi Jeanmaire in Any thing goes directed by Robert Lewis, 1956
Edith Head by Allan Grant, 1955
Edith Head by Allan Grant, 1955
Edith Head in her studio by Allan Grant, 1955
Edith Head in her studio by Allan Grant, 1955
Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock on set of Family Plot 1976. Photo by Larry Barbier
Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock on set of Family Plot 1976. Photo by Larry Barbier
Don Hartman, Edith Head, Grace Kelly and Zizi Jeanmaire preparing to attend the 27th annual Academy Awards ceremony. Photo by George Silk
Don Hartman, Edith Head, Grace Kelly and Zizi Jeanmaire preparing to attend the 27th annual Academy Awards ceremony. Photo by George Silk
Edith Head costume’s for Veronica Lake in This gun for Hire directed by Frank Tuttle, 1942
Edith Head costume’s for Veronica Lake in This gun for Hire directed by Frank Tuttle, 1942
Vivian Fosters, Orry Kelly, Bernard Newman, Travis Banton, Edith Head, Adrian, and Irene. 1941
Vivian Fosters, Orry Kelly, Bernard Newman, Travis Banton, Edith Head, Adrian, and Irene. 1941
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in Rear Window directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in Rear Window directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954
Edith Head and Grace Kelly review sketches for To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head and Grace Kelly review sketches for To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head’s costume for Vera Elen to White chrismass, 1954. Photo by Loomis Dean
Edith Head’s costume for Vera Elen to White chrismass, 1954. Photo by Loomis Dean
Edith Head drawing for Bette Davis in All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz, 1950
Edith Head drawing for Bette Davis in All about Eve directed by L.Mankiewicz, 1950
Edith Head drawing for Marilyn Maxwell  in Rock a Bye Baby directed by Frank Tashlin, 1958
Edith Head drawing for Marilyn Maxwell in Rock a Bye Baby directed by Frank Tashlin, 1958
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Kim Novak in Vertigo directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1958
Edith Head’s costume for Kim Novak in Vertigo directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1958
Edith Head and Sophia Loren for Heller in Pink Tights directed by George Cukor, 1960
Edith Head and Sophia Loren for Heller in Pink Tights directed by George Cukor, 1960
Edith Head and Grace Kelly review sketches for To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head and Grace Kelly review sketches for To Catch A Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head’s costume for Mae West in She Done Him Wrong directed by Lowell Sherman, 1933
Edith Head’s costume for Mae West in She Done Him Wrong directed by Lowell Sherman, 1933
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Gail Patrick in Her Husband Lies directed by Edward Ludwig, 1937
Edith Head’s costume for Gail Patrick in Her Husband Lies directed by Edward Ludwig, 1937
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know  directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire directed by Howard Hawks, 1941
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire directed by Howard Hawks, 1941
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head’s costume for Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1955
Edith Head’s costume for Claudette Colbert in Zaza directed by George Cukor, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Claudette Colbert in Zaza directed by George Cukor, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Joan Bennett in The Texans directed by James P. Hogan, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Joan Bennett in The Texans directed by James P. Hogan, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Claudette Colbert on the set of Zaza directed by George Cukor, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Claudette Colbert on the set of Zaza directed by George Cukor, 1938
Shirley MacLaine and Edith Head, 1959
Shirley MacLaine and Edith Head, 1959
Edith Head, Mel Ferrer, and Audrey Hepburn blow out the candle on Head's birthday cake at a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1955.Photo by Darlene Hammond
Edith Head, Mel Ferrer, and Audrey Hepburn blow out the candle on Head's birthday cake at a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1955.Photo by Darlene Hammond
Audrey Hepburn in her dressing room with Edith Head, for LIFE in 1953. photo by Mark Shaw
Audrey Hepburn in her dressing room with Edith Head, for LIFE in 1953. photo by Mark Shaw
Edith Head, 1950s
Edith Head, 1950s
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong and Akim Tamiroff in King of Chinatown directed by Nick Grinde, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong and Akim Tamiroff in King of Chinatown directed by Nick Grinde, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holidays directed by William Wyler 1953
Edith Head’s costume for Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holidays directed by William Wyler 1953
Edith Head’s costume for Irene Dunne in Invitation to Happiness directed by Wesley Ruggles, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Irene Dunne in Invitation to Happiness directed by Wesley Ruggles, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Tippi Hedren in Marnie directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1964
Edith Head’s costume for Tippi Hedren in Marnie directed by Alfred Hitchcock 1964
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head’s costume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd directed by Billy Wilder 1950
Edith Head,1940's
Edith Head,1940's
Edith Head by Bud Freakier, 1951
Edith Head by Bud Freakier, 1951
Edith Head,1950's
Edith Head,1950's
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know  directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know  directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Anna May Wong in Dangerous to Know directed by Robert Florey, 1938
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Man About Town directed by Mark Sandrich, 1939. Photo by Wiliam Walling
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Man About Town directed by Mark Sandrich, 1939. Photo by Wiliam Walling
Edith Head’s costume for Robert Preston, Gary Cooper and Ray Milland and Susan Hayward in Beau Geste directed by William A. Wellman, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Robert Preston, Gary Cooper and Ray Milland and Susan Hayward in Beau Geste directed by William A. Wellman, 1939
Edith Head’s costume for Paulette Goddard in The Ghost Breakers directed by George Marshall, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Paulette Goddard in The Ghost Breakers directed by George Marshall, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Betty Hutton in Incendiary Blonde directed by George Marshall, 1945
Edith Head’s costume for Betty Hutton in Incendiary Blonde directed by George Marshall, 1945
Edith Head’s costume for Lizabeth Scott in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers directed by Lewis Milestone, 1946
Edith Head’s costume for Lizabeth Scott in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers directed by Lewis Milestone, 1946
Edith Head, 1930s
Edith Head, 1930s
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Road to Singapore directed by Victor Schertzinger, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Road to Singapore directed by Victor Schertzinger, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck and Beulah Bondi in Remember the night directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck and Beulah Bondi in Remember the night directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in The Jungle Princess directed by Wilhelm Thiele, 1936
Edith Head’s costume for Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard Nothing But the Truth directed by Elliott Nugent, 1941
Edith Head’s costume for Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard Nothing But the Truth directed by Elliott Nugent, 1941
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in The Glass Key directed by Stuart Heisler, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in The Glass Key directed by Stuart Heisler, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck for Double indemnity directed by Billy Wilder, 1941. Photo by A. L. Whitey Schafer
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck for Double indemnity directed by Billy Wilder, 1941. Photo by A. L. Whitey Schafer
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in Ramrod directed by André De Roth, 1947
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in Ramrod directed by André De Roth, 1947
Edith Head’s costume for Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1944
Edith Head’s costume for Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1944
Edith Head’s costume for Paulette Goddard in The Ghost Breakers directed by George Marshall, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Paulette Goddard in The Ghost Breakers directed by George Marshall, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch directed by René Clair, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch directed by René Clair, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for David Niven and Barbara Stanwyck in The Other Love directed Stanwyck by André De Toth, 1947
Edith Head’s costume for David Niven and Barbara Stanwyck in The Other Love directed Stanwyck by André De Toth, 1947
Edith Head’s costume for Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair directed by Billy Wilder, 1948. Photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull
Edith Head’s costume for Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair directed by Billy Wilder, 1948. Photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull
Edith Head’s costume for Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1944
Edith Head’s costume for Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark directed by Mitchell Leisen, 1944
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour for Road to Zanzibar directed by Victor Schertzinger, 1941. Photo by A. L. ‘Whitey’ Schafer
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour for Road to Zanzibar directed by Victor Schertzinger, 1941. Photo by A. L. ‘Whitey’ Schafer
Edith Head’s costume for  Dorothy Lamour in Moon over Burma directed by Louis King, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Dorothy Lamour in Moon over Burma directed by Louis King, 1940
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck in The Great Man's Lady directed by William A. Wellman, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for Barbara Stanwyck in The Great Man's Lady directed by William A. Wellman, 1942
Edith Head’s costume for Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress directed by William Wyler, 1949
Edith Head’s costume for Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress directed by William Wyler, 1949
Edith Head’s costume for Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest directed by King Vidor, 1949
Edith Head’s costume for Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest directed by King Vidor, 1949
Edith Head’s costume for Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah directed by Cecil B. DeMille, 1949
Edith Head’s costume for Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah directed by Cecil B. DeMille, 1949
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