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Honoring a Hollywood Fashion Icon's Legacy

(The Verge) – On Monday October 28, 2013, those who visited Google were greeted by a doodle consisting of six fashion sketches and a woman in a skirt suit and perfectly circular glasses standing amongst them.  Many who came across the doodle most likely were unsure of who the woman with the stark black hair and circular glasses was.  But for old Hollywood and fashion enthusiasts, it was a perfect depiction of legendary costume designer Edith Head.
Edith Head worked at Paramount Pictures for 43 years before moving to Universal in 1967, supposedly obtaining her first job at Paramount by presenting forged sketches.  It does not seem that her slip-up (let’s call it that) during her interview had much of an impact on her later success though, as Head went on to win eight Academy Awards – more than any woman in Hollywood to date (she was even nominated for more Oscars than the perfect Meryl Streep!).
But what exactly is it that lead Edith Head to have such success?  Was her secret the blue tinted glasses she wore, stating that blue lens allow a costume designer to visualize what a costume will look like in black and white (yes, remember this was back in the time of black and white movies)?  Or maybe, it was the deeply loyal professional relationship she had with Alfred Hitchcock, designing costumes for iconic leading ladies such as Kim Novak, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren. Whatever the reason is, Head has impacted both Hollywood and fashion immensely, designing for some of the biggest names of all time including Robert Redford, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, and Marilyn Monroe.  Some of the designs that have received the most acclaim include the sophisticated attire worn by Grace Kelly as she tries desperately to get her co-star, James Stewart, to pay more attention to her and less attention to the activity of his neighbors in “Rear Window” and the simple yet sophisticated button-down shirt and floor length skirt worn by Audrey Hepburn while driving a Vespa through the streets of Rome in “Roman Holiday”.

A photo of the notorious designer, Edith Head. Image taken from:
A photo of the notorious designer, Edith Head. Image taken from:

Even though Head designed for the stars, many of her designs have been adapted to be worn by just about anyone.  In 2007, Gap Inc. aired a commercial that used the iconic scene from “Funny Face” (1957) in which Audrey Hepburn dances around a club and spliced in AC/DC’s “Back in Black” to market their black ankle pants.  The type of pants Gap was marketing is known as toreador pants and was first designed by Edith Head for Hepburn.  Today people in all walks of life wear styles influenced by Head.  No longer are her fashions limited to just celebrities.
If all of the Academy Awards, fabulous Hollywood friendships, and wonderful quirks were not enough, Edith Head is also rumored to be the inspiration behind the Disney Pixar character Edna Mode in “The Incredibles”.  Mode, like Head, designs for the celebrities of the world and pulls off the same iconic glasses.
It is clear that Edith Head’s legacy will far surpass their lifetimes and people will continue to look to her work for guidance, inspiration, and enjoyment.