Edith Head died in 1981 at the age of 83, but the famed costume designer gets new life today on Google, which celebrates what would have been her 116th birthday with a doodle.
If you’ve taken fashion inspiration from Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Doris Day or Elizabeth Taylor’s on-screen style (and who among us hasn’t?), you likely have Edith Head to thank.
You can see the iconic wardrobes of the costume designer in such movies as “Sabrina,” “Notorious,” “Funny Face” and “The Birds” – a body of work that earned her both critical acclaim and the legacy of many fashion trends. Here’s the Google doodle. Cute, huh?
Born Edith Claire Posener in San Bernardino, Calif. on Oct. 28, 1897, Head initially intended to be a French teacher. She studied French at the University of California-Berkeley, gained a master’s degree in romance languages from Stanford, and got her first job as a French teacher at a girl’s school in San Diego. When she started drawing to make a bit of extra cash as an art teacher, it led to her first job in Hollywood: a costume sketch artist for Paramount Pictures in 1924.
Around this time, she also married Charles Head, and though they later divorced, the last name “Head” stuck in her professional life.
Head stayed at Paramount for 43 years – and Universal Pictures after 1967 – and became the stylish eye behind Hepburn’s European ensembles in “Roman Holiday,” the floral sarong worn by Dorothy Lamour in “Jungle Princess,” and Elizabeth Taylor’s sparkling strapless dress in “A Place in the Sun,” among 400-plus other movie wardrobes.
she was known for consulting with her female actresses, making her a favorite among the Hollywood stars she dressed, ranging from Mae West to Grace Kelly to Natalie Wood to Doris Day. She also captured the heart of director Alfred Hitchcock, as she dressed his leading ladies in tailored, fashionable ensembles that ironically stayed together as his characters spun out of control during his many psychological thrillers.
I just saw “Rear Window” on the big screen the other day, and Grace Kelly’s Edith Head-designed frocks are absolutely gorgeous. My favorite is the green suit with the pencil skirt.
Over her career, Head was nominated for 35 Oscars and won eight, the most of any woman in Academy Award history. She is also the only costume designer to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Despite making a living dressing others, her personal style was notorious in Hollywood. She favored pulled-back dark hair with short blunt bangs, and was never without her thick, black-rimmed round glasses. Though never confirmed, it’s clear that her unique style and no-nonsense personality was the inspiration for the character Edna Mode in Pixar’s movie “The Incredibles” – one of my alltime favorite family movies.