Below the Line: A Cut Above – Costume Designer Edith Head

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the oft unsung yet always vital contributions of those working below the line. Join NYWIFT blog contributors Kathryn O’Kane and Mellini Kantayya as they celebrate a few of the many women in history and making history—“Below the Line: A Cut Above.”

By Mellini Kantayya

With a career spanning six decades, perhaps no one can be credited for the classic Hollywood aesthetic more than costume designer Edith Head. To this day, she is still the most honored costume designer and woman in Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences history, with an astounding 35 Oscar nominations and eight wins.

Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963)


Head created many of the memorable and iconic looks during the Golden Age of Cinema and beyond including Audrey Hepburn’s timeless chic in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tippi Hedren’s pristine (and then not so pristine) green suit in The Birds, and Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s vagabond cool in The Sting. Her prolific career credits her with an astounding 442 films, commencing in 1925 on silent films and concluding in 1982 with the film Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid which was released seven months after her death.

Though perhaps not a household name, Edith Head continued and continues to make an impression popular culture. Mink Car, the 1999 They Might Be Giants  album, included a song entitled “(She Thinks She’s) Edith Head.” In 2003, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative stamp. Today, her “signature style and forthright personality” is the inspiration for the character Edna Mode in The Incredibles movies.

Edith Head…and Edna Mode



Mellini_Kantayya Mellini Kantayya is an actor, author of "Actor. Writer. Whatever. (essays on my rise to the top of the bottom of the entertainment industry)", contributor to Huffington Post Comedy, and an active NYWIFT member. www.mellinikantayya.com

View all posts by Mellini_Kantayya

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