Edith Head (1897-1981) is America’s best-known and most successful Hollywood designer. A winner of eight Academy Awards for Costume Design, Head defined the style of classic Hollywood with her striking work at Paramount and Universal studios.
She dressed some of Hollywood’s most beautiful movie stars, including Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner and Marlene Dietrich. Her work, however, was not limited to women. She designed wardrobes for such dashing leading men as Cary Grant, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, to name a few.
All told, Head designed costumes for about 500 films and was nominated thirty-five times for an Academy Award. She also became a recognizable personality in her own right thanks to her distinctive personal style including her signature glasses and blunt personality, which inspired the character of Edna Mode in the Pixar animated hit, The Incredibles.
While she designed some of the most eye-catching and breathtaking outfits in movie history, Head only liked to wear four colors herself: black, white, beige and brown.
A collection of Head’s striking design sketches recently sold at Heritage Auctions. A sample of her work follows.