I first heard of Edith Head a couple of years ago, when my uncle started sending me fashion magazines from the USA. In one of our chats, we’d talked about fashion films; we both love movies. He said he would try to find a few Edith Head movies to send me. I looked her up immediately and I was shocked.
34 Academy Award nominations. 34.Who does that? And who actually wins 8 of them?
I found a few of her famous quotes, read a bit about her relationships with the amazing people she dressed (Everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Zsa Zsa Gabor), wrote down the names of a handful of the 437 films and TV shows she worked on, and resolved to do more investigation later. I didn’t do much; she came up in a fashion history project once, but that was it. Then yesterday, I found myself in the fashion section of my campus library, looking for something to occupy me while I get my hair done today – it’s always a whole day affair. I found this:
Perfect, I thought. It’s time I got to know the Dress Doctor a little better.
This book is a gem. Not only does it give you a great taste of Edith’s quick wit and her clinical approach to style and fit, it also gives you a good idea of what leisure dress was like in the 50s through Edith’s dress prescriptions – instructions on what to wear on several occasions, at different times of day, with different groups of people. There are fabulous quotes, hilarious stories, and timeless tips on ladylike dressing. A few of my favourites:
– The reclining board created for Mae West because she couldn’t sit in any of her ridiculously tight costumes.
– Edith showing up to Ginger Rogers’ house in an all black, full-gloved ensemble, unaware that she was hosting a summer ice-cream/soda party.
– A shimmering dress she designed for Sophia Loren to wear in Houseboat turned the front of Cary Grant’s black suit gold.
– The story of how she got into costume design.
After reading it, I’ve decided that my wardrobe needs a bit of adjusting: I’m going to need a few more dresses, much better accessories, and a good, classic pair of gloves. Thanks Edith.