The current Google Doodle is decked out in ball gowns, sharp dress suits, and fur-trimmed ruffles in honor of legendary costume designer Edith Head, who would have been 116 today. Over the course of her career, Head racked up 438 film credits and won eight Oscars for her work on The Heiress, Samson and Delilah, All About Eve, A Place in the Sun, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, The Facts of Life, and The Sting. She died in 1981 at the age of 83 and still holds the record for most Oscars won by a woman.
“To be a good designer in Hollywood, one has to be a combination of psychiatrist, artist, fashion designer, dress-maker, pin cushion, historian, nurse maid, and purchasing agent, too,” Head once said. Despite having no formal fashion training, Head was hired as a costume sketch artist by Paramount Pictures in 1924. She went on to create iconic costumes like the strapless evening gown Elizabeth Taylor wore in A Place in the Sun; the toreador pants Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina and Funny Face; and Dorothy Lamour’s floral sarong in Jungle Princess. Between 1949 and 1978, Head was nominated for 35 Oscars for costume design.
As Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite designer, she created the mint-green dress suit Tippi Hedren wore in The Birds, inspiring many a crow-pecked Halloween costume. And even after actress Kim Novak declared, “I don’t wear suits, and I don’t wear gray. Another thing, I don’t wear black pumps,” Head managed to dress her in a gray suit and black pumps for her starring role in Vertigo. Also on her list of red-carpet devotees were Marlene Dietrich, Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, Bette Davis, Natalie Wood, and Ginger Rogers.
Head’s close-cropped black hair, trademark round spectacles, and straight-shooting personality are said to have been the inspiration for the superhero costume designer Edna Mode in Pixar’s The Incredibles.