The Real Edna Mode: Edith Head AngryTeacher
wrote this wonderful and informative post about the real life inspiration behind Edna Mode from The Incredibles, Edith Head, costume designer extraordinaire...
Hey all. I love costuming. You may have seen my Game of Thrones costume posts, where I go in depth into characters' costumes and the meaning behind them. I've been interested in costuming for a long time, and one of my heroes is one of the most famous costumers of all: Edith Head. So I thought I'd share a bit of her work and some facts about her with you.
She is commonly thought to be the inspiration for the character of Edna Mode from The Incredibles, who also sports her signature round frames and bangs.
Here is a young Edith Head, in the 1920s, when she got her start in Holly wood. She was only in her mid-20s when she began costume designing, and by the time she was done she had contributed to costumes in more than 400 films.
Edith won 8 Oscars for Best Costuming, more than any other costume designer ever. She was nominated for an additional 18 Oscars. She dressed pretty much every famous actress out there--Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, Grace Kelly, Mae West. . . Her only regret was never being able to design for Marilyn Monroe.
One of Edith's early iconic costumes made the actress in them famous as well. This is Dorothy Lamour, known just as much for these sarong dresses in the 1930s as for her acting, so much so that the studio began to put her only in films where she could somehow be at the beach so she could wear one.
Notorious was her first film with Alfred Hitchcock, with whom she was to work for over 20 years. She was a master at draping fabric so it would photograph beautifully in black and white, just as you see here.
This dress in All About Eve was originally supposed to have a plain square neckline, and not be off the shoulder, but the measurements were off. They were about to whisk it away for last minute, panicked alterations when Bette Davis shrugged the sleeves off her shoulder (as you see here) and suggested it looked better that way anyway.
A Place in the Sun helped make Elizabeth Taylor a star, and this dress was so iconic and popular it was immediately knocked off-brides everywhere wanted it! Many of Edith Head's designs would be copied by stores after films were released, so she ended up having a really large impact on the fashions of her day.
Roman Holiday was really the only film Edith Head designed clothes for Audrey Hepburn in, because after that Givenchy pretty much took over. I love this outfit because it's designed so cleverly to show her transformation from trapped princess to joyful young woman--the sleeves roll up, the collar unbuttons, she adds the little scarf, cuts her hair, and voila!
These two images show you one of her iconic gowns on Grace Kelly. When asked who her favorite actress, actor, director, film, and costumes were, Edith Head would just say "To Catch a Thief"--it had them all: Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock. This is before Grace became a princess, but she plays a rich heiress in the movie and you can see how she'd fit the part well.
One of the more high fashion looks from that film--this bathing costume raised eyebrows with how avant garde and unusual it was!
Finally, a glimpse at one of the most iconic film dresses of all time--Grace Kelly in Rear Window (also an Alfred Hitchcock film). Purely stunning, fantasy princess--it works to look so out of place when she bursts in on her boyfriend's shabby apartment!
Hope you enjoyed learning and seeing a bit more about Hollywood's most iconic fashion designer! Here's Edith dressing Sophia Loren.
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March 16 2018