Haute Historian: Edith Head, Dresser Of The Stars

April 21, 2014 • Haute Historian, Magazine


Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head once said, “A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes.” For the infamous costumier, who created gorgeous, iconic costumes for Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Lucille Ball and many more, this statement certainly held up: Head designed costumes for movies that would become eternal classics, and she would collect a record-breaking eight Oscars throughout her career.

Edith Head was born Edith Claire Posener in San Bernadino, California in 1897. She began her career at the Players-Lasky Studios in 1923, and she would go on to eventually become Paramount’s first female head designer in 1938. It wasn’t long before Head made a name for herself. Her career stretches six decades and includes costumes in more than 1,000 films. She won over such directors as Billy Wilder, Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock.

Head was known for her grounded and logical personality, which was very different from other well-known costume designers (Adrian comes to mind). Her fitted suits, circular glasses and dark, cropped hair became another trademark.

Head focused on creating characters and transforming actresses through her designs. But in the 1960s, when studio costume designers began to become less prevalent, Head’s workload waned. Studios were starting to buy more and more clothes off-the-rack. True to her personality, Head kept working— though  only on a few films a year–until she died in 1981.

1. Edith Head, 1951

2. Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, costume by Head. 1953.

3. Edith Head Talking to Hitchcock, on set, 1976. Photo by Larry Barbier – © 1978 Larry Barbier 

4. Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, costume by Head. 1954.

5. Edith Head with model, via Voguepedia.com. Photo by Pierre Scherman, 1976.

-Tanisha Wallis

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