A word of advice from fashion icon and costumier to the stars, from Edith Head.

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

audrey Hepburn

Edith Head, Audrey Hepburn, and Hepburn’s husband, Mel Ferrer. Photo Courtesy of Life Magazine, hosted by Google.

edith head audrey hepburn vintage fashion for hollywood

Who Is Edith Head?

Nowadays, many people outside of Hollywood may not recognize the name Edith Head, but forty years ago that was a different story. Born in 1897, Edith Head was an American costume designer who worked first for Paramount Pictures and then later Universal Studios in a career that spanned 58 years.

Her first film was the silent flick The Wanderer in 1925 and her last was Steve Martin’s Dead Men Dead War Plaid, which came out the year after her death in 1982.

Over her career she was much celebrated, in fact, nominated for 35 Academy Awards, Ms. Head remains the most nominated woman in Academy history and she is close to the record for most wins by a woman with 8 awards.

Edith Head Vintage hollywood film designer

Costumes To The Stars

Ms. Head worked on countless films (really too many to list in entirety here) with some of the biggest stars and directors of the times. Alfred Hitchcock and Nelson DeMille are two directors she worked with, while Mae West, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren are just some of the well known leading ladies she dressed.

Elizabeth Taylor - Hollywood's Most Alluring Fashion Icon

Films She Dressed For

Some of the films she worked on included: Roman Holiday, Sabrina, The Ten Commandments, Funny Face, A Place in the Sun, All About Eve, To Catch a Thief, and The Sting.

There are two things that stand out about her career (among many others). Firstly, was the way in which she worked with actresses to design their wardrobes. She often consulted with the stars she was dressing to create their looks, which was in stark contrast to many of her male contemporaries in the consuming world.

Edith Head

Street Style Fashion Trends

The other significant aspect of her career was exactly how influential she was in determining the fashions of the moment. She became one of the authorities on what was in style and how to wear it. She had advice columns in newspapers and magazines across the US.

Her two books were The Dress Doctor and How to Dress for Success.

She was known for her zippy and to the point one-liners, including:

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

Elizabeth Taylor dress by edith Head

She worked with Elizabeth Taylor,

Flattering Comfort

Find the balance of looking flattering but feeling comfortable. Edith summed it up all so well.

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

Her career was not without controversy though. Probably the biggest was the claim that she took credit for the Academy Award she won for the film Sabrina when some felt it was not deserved. It was considered that she won based on the Parisian costumes, which were actually designed by Givenchy and chosen by Audrey Hepburn.

Some of the looks Edith Head is best remembered for include:

“The cardinal sin is not being badly dressed, but wearing the right thing in the wrong place.”

Marilyn Monroe

Edith Head Design for Bette Davis

The dress is worn by Bette Davis in All About Eve. Seen here as a sketch by Edith Head.

Edith Head Design for Bette Davis

Sabrina DVD Audrey Hepburn

Another iconic glorious dress by Edith was in the film Sabrina starring Audrey Hepburn

Audrey hepburn dress by Edith head Sabrina

Here is one of the designs by Givenchy from the film Sabrina. Some have taken issue with Edith Head winning the Oscar for this film based on the designs from Givenchy.

Fashion is a bitch after all.

If Edith was live today I do wonder how she would dress women in power when it comes to vintage fashion  like Kate Middleton