Edith Head - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Edith Head

The most legendary costume designer in Hollywood, Edith Head (1897-1981) actually lied her way into her first sketch artist position at Paramount Studios. With a bachelor’s from Berkeley and a master’s in romance languages from Stanford, Head was working as a French teacher and taking night classes at Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) so she could teach art classes to make more money. In 1923, she climbed the first rung of the designer ladder—with a portfolio of other students’ sketches, she would later admit. Two decades after that, Head became the chief designer at Paramount at forty-one, and she stayed for twenty-nine years before leaving for Universal. During that time, she dressed almost every actor of the Hollywood golden age, working on over 1,100 films and earning thirty-five Oscar nominations for her costuming work. She won eight Oscars and still holds the record for most awards won by a female. Some of the most famous and iconic films she designed for include All About Eve, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, The Birds, and The Ten Commandments. Head was known for a low-key working style and consulting extensively with her female stars, which was not a common practice among her nearly all-male contemporaries. This made her a favorite among the leading ladies, and they often requested her for their films. She also left her legendary wit behind in several books, most amusingly in The Dress Doctor: Prescriptions for Style, From A to Z.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”