Edith Head: Hollywood's First Woman Fashion Designer

8770 words 36 pages
The 1930s ushered in the Golden Age of Hollywood when new technological advances brought lighting, photography, and sound to a new level of excellence. Along with these technical advances, wardrobe departments of major motion picture studios were busy as costume designers, with the assistance of skilled seamstresses, milliners, and tailors, produced stunning garments for glamorous movie stars. During the 1930s and 1940s the field of costume design was dominated by men. But, that didn’t stop Edith Head, who would become one of Hollywood’s most prolific designers, working on more than 500 films, a record for a career such as hers.

One thing that separated Edith from her colleagues was that she was making clothes to suit a character; for
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It was like watching drawings come to life.” (Head, 20) While working on her drawings, Edith began working on her on looks. She turned her thick lensed glasses into a trademark and cut her straight hair short with Dutch­Bay bangs. However she remained insecure about her missing front incisors. She taught herself to smile without revealing her teeth. It took twenty years and Barbara Stanwyck to get Edith to finally have her toothless smile fixed. Most of her early work was monotonous and Edith was bored and considered quitting but the money she was making gave her security and enabled her to continue her night classes at Chouinard. Edith continued to be a fast learner and she needed to be to compete against male designers like Travis Banton who were experienced artists, whose talent had public recognition. Both Greer and Banton became Edith’s mentors since “they were secure in their own careers, they went overboard in encouraging me and helping me. I think I had the greatest break that any young designer ever had.”


(Head, 22) This kind of training you couldn’t get in school and Edith understood that.

Edith’s first major assignment came in 1924, when she was assigned the candy ball sequence in DeMille's’ The Gold Bed (1925). Edith took the script literally with lollipop beards, and chocolate drop jewelry forgetting that the high powered set lights would change her