On Feb. 24, we’ll find out who the Academy crowns the winner for Best Costume Design — the nominees are Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina); Paco Delgado (Les Misérables); Johanna Johnston (Lincoln); Eiko Ishioka (Mirror Mirror) and Colleen Atwood (Snow White and the Huntsman) — but one thing is certain: even after the Oscar is handed out, Edith Head will still hold the category record with 8 career wins.
The legendary costume designer also holds the record for most nominations for a woman, a mind-boggling 35 over her nearly six decade career.
From 1927-1979 Head dressed just about every actress from Hollywood’s golden era — Dorothy Lamour, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, to name a few — and presided over the wardrobe department on 11 Alfred Hitchcock films. “If you work or desire to work in movie costumes, she’s it: the quintessential costume designer,” says Catherine Martin, whose work will next be seen in May in The Great Gatsby and is an Oscar winner for 2001’s Moulin Rouge!
Head, who died in 1981, became a celebrity in her own right, thanks to her reign over Hollywood costuming. In fact, fans of Head’s have noticed more than a passing resemblance to the animated fashion designer Edna Mode in Pixar’s 2004 hit The Incredibles (director Brad Bird has never confirmed or denied the connection).
But Head never wanted to outshine the actresses she outfitted. As she once said, “When I’m beside a star at a fitting, and she looks into the mirror, I don’t want to be competing in any way.”
For more on Edith Head and the Oscar race pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Jan. 11.