Edith Head is widely considered the most important figure in the history of Hollywood costume design. The glamour and style of her creations continue to inspire generations of designers. Her career spanned nearly half a century and included such classic films as Rear Window and Sunset Boulevard. Her private life and professional achievements, however, have been the subject of speculation since she rose to the top of her field in the late 1940s. Ruthlessly competitive and intensely secretive, Head had few close friends and many detractors. In his unprecedented biography, David Chierichetti offers a privileged glimpse into the personality and emotions behind the famously impenetrable "scboolmarm" façade, as well as a comprehensive account of her creative process.
As Head's longtime friend and confidant, Chierichetti enjoyed rare access to her home life and reflections on Hollywood. The author's intimate view of Head's life and work, combined with his extensive research and design expertise, result in a clear-eyed portrait of a career often shrouded in misinformation. To find the truth in the notoriously fictionalized accounts of Edith Head, the author turned to her friends, co-workers, and competitors. The result of Chierichetti's meticulous, original research is a fresh and vital portrait of the designer, as well as of the studio era she epitomizes.
Edith Head is richly illustrated with more than 150 images, including family snapshots, sketches, and studio portraits of the stars and roles she helped to create. With a full-color photo insert, this informative, thorough, and important biography is also engaging and entertaining, and will appeal to designers, scholars, and film buffs alike.
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David Chierichetti, a film historian and costumer, is the author of several books on Hollywood and costume design, including Mitchell Leisen and Hollywood Costume Design. He teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. He lives in Los Angeles, California.From Publishers Weekly:
Film historian Chierichetti pays tribute to the grit behind one woman's glamorous career. Head spent more than 40 years at Paramount, won eight Oscars and became as famous as the stars she dressed. Her longevity came thanks to diplomacy and manipulation, and Chierichetti meticulously details her love affairs, touted designs and public appeal. From 1925 until her death in 1981, Head was a byword in Hollywood and an American fashion icon. She endured long hours, modest pay and studio machinations, yet never lost her cool. And she dressed everyone, from Barbara Stanwyck and Grace Kelly to Paul Newman. Draped in dark glasses and severe suits, Head was a master at playing politics and keeping competitors at bay. She was also an accomplished liar, which haunted her throughout her life. Head accepted the Oscar for Sabrina, though the gowns were designed by Givenchy. She gambled that the unknown Frenchman would remain silent-and he did. Not that the impenetrable Head wasn't a talent in her own right. Her ability to stay within budget and placate divas-"I might have to dress her again"-was as legendary as her fashion virtuosity. Olivia de Havilland dubbed her "a marvel." Yet the twice-married designer was also insecure and aloof; keeping secrets kept her in the game. Few, save Chierichetti, ever penetrated her inner core. He paints an absorbing sketch of an ambitious woman whose career defined Hollywood's golden years. Fashion lovers will enjoy his homage, and his devotion to movie magic. Photos.
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