Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 16, 1974 · Page 91
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 91

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 16, 1974
Page 91
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Page 91 article text (OCR)

By Bob Thomas LOS ANGELES ( A P ) By day she is "little Edith with the dark glasses and the little beige..suit,".-avoiding visual competition with the movie stars she dresses. By night she wears color- splashed clothes and cooks up a storm in her kitchen. This double life has helped Edith Head s u r v i v e and maintain her sanity in'.the 40-year pressure cooker of designing clothes for the movie world's most glamorous stars. Her career has brought her fame, handsome salaries and eight Oscars for costume design. The latest was awarded in April for her designs in "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and.Robert Redford. "I believe it-was the first time that the costume-design Oscar went for a picture in which ther£ was no female star/ observed Miss Head, "But then, I started out designing men's clothes in films. Paramount had top HpwarH Greer and Travis-Banton, and I was assigned to dress extras, elephants, grandmothers -- and men. "And say," she added brigh,tly, ^"since^The Sting' won,f is this;a"victory for men's-lib?"'';. Edith Head's mind works that way. She is always searching for the newsy angle, the catch phrase that will help publicize her pictures, and hence her clothes. She has the publicity mind of the late Mike Tbdd. But publicity alone could not propel a film career from the Depression '30s to the Watergate '70s. From Mae West to Elizabeth Taylor, from Alan Ladd to Dean 'Martin, stars have adored being dressed by Head. Bette Davis, Shirley Mac- Laine,'Natalie Wood and others have had her services as designer written into their film contracts. What makes stars so wild about Edith? ''She's a thorough professional," Bette Davis has said. "You get the right kind of clothes from her, without the nonsense and tempera- Head use ogy on stars ment that some designers give you." Miss Head has her own explanation for her longevity. She points out that her^u- cationB.A.. University of California; M.A. lV Stanford gave her the Aground to research cos^tlrnes through history. ad to understand psychology. Her coworkers mantel at her manner in handling stars. . ·· A key is her appearance. Miss Head is a smallish woman with black bangs and owlish tinted glasses --""I wear them because I can't see without them." Her invariable uniform at work is a well-tailored beige suit, again part of her psychology - "Stars don't like to look past the mirror and See a designer in a brightly colored dress." But at home, she eschews her- beige suit-uniform and wears "wild colors and..eyei-- ning pants -- anything I want. "But when I'm at the studio, I'm always little Edith in the dark glasses and the little beige suit. That's how I'.ve survived." "They have to decide for themselves what would look best on them. I always give them at least two alternatives. "For instance, I recently worked with Robert Redford in The Great Waldo Pep-TM per,' about barnstorming pilots in the period from 1926 to 1931. "So I go to Redford and I show him three sketches, telling him, 'This one will make you seem more sensitive: this one is more aggressive; this one is more romantic.' "I let him decide which is .best for him. Usually he will pick the one that is most masculine." She admitted that dealing . with mal.e stars is "fen times easier" than 'dealing with the female of the species. "You tell an actress, 'I think you'd look best in a lovely pink dress with a V- shaped neckline,' and she'll say 0 'Can't I have a blue dress with a round neckline?' "But if I tell a male star. 'I think you should wearja grey pin-striped suit with a . navy-blue tie,' he'll usually say, 'Okay, Edith.' " At home. Miss Head spends her time swimming, playing tennis and cooking for her husband. "I don't think I'm the greatest costume designer in the world, but I am one of the greatest cooks," she says. For 30 years she has been married to Wiard Ihnen, an architect, painter and studio art director who won two Oscars himself. They live in Coldwater Canyon in a rambling California-mission style house. Their friends are mostly out FENCING SPECIALISTS \ COMMERCIAL-INDUSTRIAL- AND RESIDENTIAL fREE ESTIMATES Sales Installation Quality Materials Workmanship Guaranteed! The Chain-Link Fence With Long- Lasting Aluminiied Coating! PHONE 744-8051 McNIEL FENCE CO. INC. 3002 7th Ave. NORTH CHARLESTON P.O. BOX 6122 STONEWALL STATION CHARLESTON, W.VA, 25302 , of the movie business. Miss Head's age is hard to guess, and she says she would lie if asked. Not because of vanity, but because age is no asset in the movie business, she explains. "The p.hrase 'over the hill' chills me." She was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Searchlight, Nev., and other mining towns. "Most designers have glamorous backgrounds -not me." She majored in Spanish and French in college and taught school in San Diego for a couple of years, but 1 W ORDERS PLEASE! found the pay too low. After studying at Los Angeles art schools, she answered an ad for artists at Paramount, offering samples of sketches borrowed from f e l l o w - s t u d e n t s -"young people aren't very honest, I've found." "I've never seen so much talent in one person," said designer Howard Greer, and she was hired. During her early years, she designed clothes for everything, from horse operas to pirate epics. Her first glamor assignment was "She Done Him Wrong" with Mae West and Cary Grant in 1933. "Working with Mae was easy; she knew exactly what she wanted," Miss Head recalled, "She always said, "Let's make it tighter, Edith, so they can tell I'm a girl from all angles.' " The designer, who later shifted to Universal, survived the era of censorship in films and endured the new breed of method actors who want to dress carelessly. Her trick in handling performers is "my secret weapon in making them part of the creative process," she said. SIXCK WHIPPED CREAM SHIT DRESSES Colorful collection, cool prints, variety of styles, wrinkle free and packq- ble, 12-18, 14W-22JV, reg. 7.99 ·TO f SUMMER SPORTS WE AR ··- · MIX'N'MATCH-YOUR CHOICE 2 $ 3 fe for V Cpol cotton knits and stretch fabrics, plaids and solids, pull-on waist for easy fit and assorted style tops. SML, 10-18, (Jamaica length only, 32-38), originally 2.99-3.99. Mix'n match em! IDEAL TEAMMATE FOR PANT SUITS! KNEE-HI JOSE prs. for Knee-highs for maximum comfort; All nylon, stay up band, one-size stretch fits all, in tantone or beige tone. Monday ond Tuesday--June 17-18 MEN'S BOYS' STRETCH SOCKS BOYS' MEN'S .3/1 BOYS 6-11 MEN'S 10-13 . · Machine wash \ · Sport or dress · current colors I First quality BRIEFS AND BKINIS Solids and prints, pastel colors and white, cool ond comfortable for summer, wash and dry easily and retain shape indefinitely. Sizes 5-8, reg. 69- each: - PINCH-PLEATED POLYESTER FAMOUS MEN'S SHORTS T-SHIRTS Package of Six Special Purchase Crew neck T-shirts and regular style briefs, pack up a bagful for that vacation coming up. Snow white, very slight irregulars of a famous brand, extremely good value. BATH TOWELS 2/'3 Famous brand bath towels, thick and thirsty, slight irregulars, if perfect 4.99-6.99 pair Pinch pleats. 2 popular 1^165,48x63, 48x84, ·* florals ond stripes, perm c - p r e s s machine washable, reg. 3.99 FAMOUS MAKE AREATHROwiGS 1.00 to 6.00 Area and scatter rugs, slight irregulars of a famous brand, decorator color a s s o r t m e n t , if p e r f e c t 3.00-14.00 CHARLESTON. W. VA.

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