Edith Head: Queen of Hollywood Costume Design
Even if you’re not an aficionado of classic Hollywood Cinema, chances are good that you are familiar with costume designer, Edith Head. Head reigned as the leading Hollywood costume designer for nearly five decades, earning thirty-five Oscar nominations and winning eight awards1 for costume design — the most for a woman in any motion picture category.2 But did you know that this legendary designer began her career as a romance languages teacher in a private girls’ school?
Edith Head’s Early Teaching Career
Born Edith Claire Posener in San Bernardino, California in 1897, and raised in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, Edith earned a Master’s degree in French from Stanford University in 1920. She soon obtained a position as a language teacher at The Bishop School in La Jolla, California and later taught French at Hollywood School For Girls where she would be asked to also teach art.2 “To improve her drawing skills… she took evening art classes at the Chouinard Art College”3. Edith soon discovered that she very much enjoyed working with figures and costumes.2
Producer Joseph Levine, actress Carroll Baker and Edith Head on the set of Harlow (1965). Photographer unknown.
Edith Head’s Early Work At Paramount
Despite having no real professional experience in design or costume, Edith Head applied for a position as a sketch artist with Famous Players-Lasky Studios (later to become Paramount Studios) in 1924. She landed the job and soon was working as an assistant costume designer.2
Edith Head’s work during this period was often overshadowed by Paramount’s then head designer, Howard Greer then later under Travis Banton. After Banton resigned in 1938, Head was promoted to Paramount’s chief costume designer. She received public notoriety for Dorothy Lamour’s “sarong” dress in the films The Jungle Princess (1936)3 and The Hurricane (1937)2.
It was during this time that Edith Head’s marriage to Charles Head, a salesman with a drinking problem, dissolved, but the designer would continue to use her first husband’s name throughout her career.4 “In 1940 Edith Head married one of her best friends, Wiard Boppo (Bill) Ihnen, a Paramount set designer”4. (Ihnen himself won two Academy Awards for Wilson and for Blood on the Sun.)5 The couple remained married until Ihnen’s death in 1979.4
New Hampshire’s Palace Theatre
Leon Lempert & Son (architects), Palace Theatre. Manchester, New Hampshire (1915).
The newest addition to our blog roll, The Daily Kylie, posted an article about a recent visit to The Palace Theatre in Manchester, New Hampshire. Built in 1914-1915 by Greek immigrant Victor Charas, and designed by Leon Lempert and Sons, the Palace is a glorious example of one of the early extravagant movie palaces. “Fashioned after its namesake in New York City,” according to the Theatre’s web site, ”the Palace Theatre was (and still remains) remarkably similar to its larger cousin.”
Please enjoy The Daily Kylie’s visit to the Palace.
Glam! The Performance of Style
By now you’ve probably heard the hype about David Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, his first release in over ten years, but did you also know that his Glam Rock style form the late 1960s and 1970s is the subject of an exhibition at Tate Liverpool in the UK? Glam! The Performance of Style looks at Bowie’s impact upon the fashion, Rock and art scene of that period.
The show includes works by photographers Mick Rock, Terry O’Neill, Cindy Sherman and artists David Hockney, Allen Jones and Ray Johnson among others. Glam! the Performance of Style examines Glam influence upon Bowie’s contemporaries such as Roxy Music. The importance of Bowie’s connection with Andy Warhol and its relationship to Glam style is also explored.
Glam! The Performance of Style runs at Tate Liverpool (Albert Dock, Liverpool, UK) through May 12.
Read a review of the show on Hyperallergic.
Bowie items at Glam! the Performance of Style exhibition, Tate Liverpool (2013). photo credit: Mark Sheerin.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home Movies
Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin for many years. During those visits, she captured the atmosphere of daily life at Taliesin on film.”Wright worked for and studied under Adler, and his granddaughter Joan became a regular visitor to Wright’s home and farm at
Frank Lloyd Wright and Olgivanna Wright in the garden, late 1930s-early 1940s. Photo credit: Still from a film from the personal collection of Joan Salzstein. Milwaukee Art Museum, Institutional Archives.
Silly Saturday: Marilyn Peep Show
Karyn Zupke, Marilyn Monroe (n.d.). Copyright 2012 PeepTopia!
Apologies for the rather misleading headline, but we just couldn’t resist. If you look closely at the image posted here, you can see that the Andy Warhol inspired portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe is made of Peeps® marshmallow candies. How Sweet it is!
Visit PeepTopia to view more Peeps® masterpieces.
Silly Saturday: Dr. Seuss Meets George Lucas
“Dr. Seuss Meets George Lucas” sounds as if it should be the title of a 1950s horror movie, but it’s actually a hysterical collection of Dr. Seuss-inspired illustrations that architect and humorist Doug Patt recently shared on his How to Architect blog.
To do the illustrations justice, we’ve decided not to share a teaser image here. Just go on over to Doug’s blog to check them out!
You can see even more Dr Seuss parodies at stealthisart.com.
Great Film Director Stamps
Design and Desire in the Twentieth Century passes this item along in keeping with our interest in cinema and design. This past spring the United States Post Office honored four great directors from the Golden Age of Hollywood: John Ford, John Huston, Frank Capra and Billy Wilder. The stamps were designed by art director Derry Noyes and illustrated by Gary Kelley.
All in the Family: The Pereira Brothers
While true genius is hard to find, rarely does one find two outstanding talents within the same family. Such is the case, however, with the Academy Award winning siblings William and Hal Pereira. Architect William Pereira was best known for his Transamerica Pyramid Tower in San Francisco, California, and brother Hal served as supervising art director for Paramount Studios from 1950 to 1968. The brothers recently came to our attention in a post from Designslinger on the Art Deco Esquire Theatre that William and Hal designed in the 1930s.
The Pereira Brothers’ Early Years Chicago
The Pereiras were born in Chicago, Illinois to Portuguese immigrants1. Hal, the older brother, was born on April 29, 19052; William arrived four years later on April 25, 19091. Both were graduates of the University of Illinois and began their careers in their hometown of Chicago1,2. William took up his first position in the office of Holabird & Root, where he contributed to the masterplan for the 1933 World’s Fair3. He left Holabird & Root to partner with brother Hal designing and building “movie theatres and interiors across the country, among them the [aforementioned] landmark and high style Esquire Theatre of Chicago.3”
Left: William Pereira (photographer unknown). Source:http://assets.artandculture.com/media-prod/public/uploads/images/27174/pereira_medal_sm_thumb_medium.jpg
Right: Hal Pereira (photographer unknown). Source: http://thinesclaude.wifeo.com/images/1/195/1955—-Hal-Pereira.jpg
Making the Move to Hollywood
After a successful stint in theatre design, William followed his first wife, actress and model Margaret McConnell, to Los Angeles4 in the late 1930s. Brother Hal moved there four years later to embark on his career as “a unit art director under the tutelage of department head Hans Dreier. He took over Dreier’s job as supervising art director upon the latter’s retirement in 1950”2.