During her half-century in Hollywood, costume designer Edith Head worked on more than a thousand films. Here are some of her best—each as timeless as Head’s creations. For more on her legendary career and photographs of her stylish ensembles—not to mention her own Coldwater Canyon hacienda—see the October issue of Veranda. And don’t miss the photo-filled book Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer by Jay Jorgensen, new from Running Press.
Double Indemnity (1944): The film noir classic stars Barbara Stanwyck as a murderous femme fatale opposite a gullible Fred MacMurray. Stanwyck and Head would eventually work together on more than twenty-five films.
All About Eve (1950): Bette Davis plays a Broadway star upstaged by a young fan. This blockbuster was nominated for fourteen Oscars—more than Gone With the Wind—and won six, including best picture. Head won, too.
Sunset Boulevard (1950): Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond, the aging silent-screen goddess dressed for excess, waits for her career to rebound. And waits…. Head and the actress conceptualized the clothes together.
A Place in the Sun (1951): Elizabeth Taylor as a society debutante dazzles. So does her strapless white gown, tulle-skirted with velvet violets on the bodice—copied and worn by prom-going teenagers across America.
Roman Holiday (1953): In the role of a modern princess who escapes constraints, Audrey Hepburn motors around the Eternal City with Gregory Peck in casual and carefree clothes that play up her gamine charm.
Rear Window (1954): Working with Alfred Hitchcock, Head dresses Grace Kelly as a fashionable New York socialite in preppy outfits that are the height of propriety—and surprisingly sexy.
To Catch a Thief (1955): Watch for Grace Kelly’s blue chiffon gown, white strapless number and gold lamé extravaganza. The beach ensemble, including black capri pants with a white overskirt, would look chic today. Cary Grant enjoys the views—and not just of the Côte d’Azur.
The Birds (1963): Alfred Hitchcock’s flocks and Head’s frocks. For Tippi Hedren’s tailored look, the designer selected wool that could easily be snagged. Both impeccable and peck-able.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): Raindrops couldn’t keep fallin’ on Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s heads—as bank robbers, they wore everything from a fedora to a derby to a cowboy hat, all at Edith’s behest. Katharine Ross had a tricky time in a long, billowy dress as she perched on the handlebars of a bicycle while Butch pedaled—and peddled his charms.
The Sting (1973): Paul Newman and Robert Redford reunite, this time as small-time con men. Redford’s dashing haberdashery brings back the chalk-striped suit. The movie wins best picture, and septuagenarian Edith takes home her eighth Oscar.