Haute Historian. Queen of Costumes

October 29, 2008 • Fashion


Bonnie J Brown for Second City Style Magazine

In honor of Halloween, an ever changing celebration that has evolved
from a festival of harvesting foods for the coming winter to, in recent
years, a holiday where adult men and women dress in costumes, costumes
that show more skin than creative thought, and children go out asking
strangers for candy, I would like to remember not a Halloween that once was, but a costume designer who knew what a costume was meant to be. While originally Halloween or All Hallows
had people dressing as ghosts, witches and devils to frighten off the
dead who would rise on October 31 (another evolution of Halloween),
people today dress as anything from political figures to Britney Spears
to fictitious vampires in order to attend parties and maybe even win a
prize for the audacious outfitted character of which they have dressed.
But the most winning costumes don’t necessarily have to be the most
unusual; instead the best costumes are the ones that have individuals
taking on completely different identities, where you no longer notice
the costume or the person, but instead are only aware of the new

This idea of creating characters through costume alone is what Edith Head, Hollywood costume designer extraordinaire, was able to do.
Ms. Head, who considered herself a magician, was able to weave her
talent of dress making and designing into a six decade long career
where she was able to clothe the top stars of the time and fashion them
into new identities on the big screen. She was so talented that she was nominated for 40 Academy Awards and won eight, the most any woman has ever won.
While it would be impossible to examine all her costumes, she designed
for more than 400 movies, some of her most noteworthy are the “sarong”
dress, worn by Dorothy Lamour in The Hurricane 1937, the mink-lined ball gown worn by Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark
1944 (which, at $35,000, is still the most expensive dress ever to be
made for a movie – all those diamonds and fur really made an impact on
the audience, especially since it was made during War World II) and her
work in All About Eve, where she won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

Read more "Queen of Costumes" here.

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