Sunday 24 February 2013


On the eve of the 85th Academy Awards, all eyes will be on the annual event to see who goes home with a coveted Oscar or two.

While Walt Disney won the most Oscars to date, winning a grand total of 24; legendary costume designer, Edith Head, is still the woman awarded the most golden statuettes, with a total of eight Oscars to her name. These include her designs for All about Eve (1951), Roman Holiday (1954) and Sabrina (1955).

Head (1897 - 1981) cut her teeth in the costume department at Paramount Pictures where she became known as one of Hollywood's leading costume designers, designing initially for black and white films, before moving into colour. She created timeless costumes for many of Hollywood's screen legends, including Bette Davis in June Bride (1948), Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946), Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954) and Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963). 

Edith Head in front of her eight Oscars for Costume Design
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Veronica Lake in an Edith Head design in This Gun For Hire (1942)
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Head also designed Grace Kelly's beautiful 'blue champagne' silk gown that she wore when she accepted her Oscar for The Country Girl in 1955. At that stage, the most expensive Oscar gown in history, with just the shimmering blue silk fabric costing $4,000. That beautiful, simple dress set the benchmark for glamour at the Academy Awards, and many will argue that it has never been surpassed.

Grace Kelly kissing her Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl (1955), wearing her fabulous Edith Head designed gown. Actor William Holden, the 27th Academy Award presenter, looks on adoringly 
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Costume design supremo Edith Head at work
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After 43 years at Paramount, Head moved across to Universal Pictures in 1967, winning her eighth and final Oscar for The Sting (1974). She was a prolific and exceptionally skilled designer who shunned trends and was known for her signature short fringe and
round black glasses. 

Edith Head surrounded by her elegant costume designs
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Head is well-worth researching if you adore costume design and all things Hollywood. The two videos below provide a snapshot of her life and reference the well-known powder blue uniforms she designed for Pan Am in the 1970's, labelled 'Edith Head for Pan AM'. You can read more about Edith Head and her pioneering designs in her book, How to dress for Success, originally published in 1967.

It will be interesting to see who wins the Oscar for Costume Design this evening. My money is on the British costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, for Anna Karenina. She won the BAFTA, but has strong competition from the other four nominees. All will be revealed in the morning...

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