October 28 – Happy Birthday, Edith Head

Posted on October 28, 2014

Today's famous birthday holds a record for most Academy Awards in Costume Design.

Eight times she won an Oscar for her movie costumes!

Edith Head had a long career, of course – she worked in the industry for 57 years! That's more than half a century!

So...let's see if we can figure out how to copy the amazing success Edith Head had. Like, how did she get her start in the movie-costume-making industry? Did she get degrees or specialized training?

Brief Bio

In Head's case, the answer is “no.” No degree in costume design (or fashion design), and no specialized training.

Edith Head was born on this date in 1897 in San Bernardino, California. Her name was Edith Claire Posener. She did get degrees: a B.A. In French from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in romance languages from Stanford. (In case you don't know, those are both top schools.) She began to teach French and art, and she married a man named Charles Head. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last, but her new name – Edith Head – did last from 1923 until her death in 1981.

In 1924, Head tried out for a job as a sketch artist for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. And even though she had no experience in art, design, or costume design, she got the job. 

(Later, she admitted that she had done a really bad thing – she had borrowed others' sketches for her job interview!! Yikes!)

But she must've had talent, and she must've worked hard, because she quickly became one of Hollywood's leading designers. And this was back when movies were just starting to have sound!

  • Check out Edith Head's work here!

  • Dabble in design yourself! Do you want to draw costumes for the good guys and bad guys in a fantasy movie (the elves, orcs, and so forth)?
Or for a futuristic science-fiction movie? How about a movie set during Ancient Egyptian times...or during the 1400s in China?
  • Did you notice that the character Edna Mode, in the Pixar movie The Incredibles, is an homage to Edith Head?

  • Not necessarily meant for kids, the website Clothes on Film gives some interesting info on movie costume design. 

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