Curio Cabinet | August 18, 2021

Clothes Make the Character: Costume Collaborations of Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock

“I knew I was not a creative design genius. I was never going to be the world’s greatest costume designer, but there was no reason I couldn’t be the smartest.” —Edith Head

In 1946, Alfred Hitchcock arranged for Paramount to loan Edith Head to RKO to dress Ingrid Bergman in his spy thriller Notorious. This was Edith’s first time working with the English director, and she found in him a like-minded collaborator who was as exacting and blunt as she was. While her fellow costume designers often made clothes to display their style, Edith had learned over her past twenty years at Paramount that the objective was to create clothes to suit the character and advance the storyline, an approach that suited Hitchcock’s philosophy. Hitchcock was famous for using clothes in his films to express the psychology of his characters. In his scripts, he was explicit about color, style, and accessories. Once the parameters were decided, Edith was given creative freedom and a big budget to make beautiful garments.

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