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or leaning on patsy swank ms edith head might be characterized as a working legend she it's probably one of the busiest customers hours that hollywood has ever ever now besides that she loves motion pictures and he's in dallas because of the benson and hedges series of the hundred greatest films are now being shown here and three other felt such a costume hat to be included among life's hundred and it was obviously it a child bride to the great god film she worked on her first picture in nineteen twenty five and her next one is just about to start its being produced by alfred hitchcock if you look at any less to film credits for the designers of the goad in hollywood year's eve heads list will top them all by about a column and half its reason for that i think
is pretty obvious even dead is a superb designer she would've been a success where ever she had chosen to wear that being the case nice head what was it about film that they'd engaged you in the kitchen schoolteacher he has a mature years ago school teachers didn't make a large salary and come summer vacation we had to get a job there was an advertisement the paper that's paramount studio he did a sketch artist i could draw this so i went to the studio became a sketch artist fell in love with the make believe of pictures and never went back to teach but an awful lot of your contemporaries have come and gone and they didn't find designers to you're still here and you're still working are still productive what is it about you or your job or the business that has kept you pull together even while survive so well put that way yes i think that's a i think i have a philosophy that is different in other words a sommelier motion picture
star added when you come to an average designer they will say here is a sketch here is a sketch it so forth and so on and you're going to wear it now with me i would do three sketches i would say this carefully through the very glamorous this get as much more intellectual this third sketches drama about with you as an actress which will enable you to play the part in the foundry gallery so in other words i work with people not for them and i think that that's what people like to work with me seventy years since the fact that i feel it's very important to get the point of view of other people rather than say this is what i like i hope you like it what happens when when when if you never can come together and you know that that what they want is not going to be more of a you know because they don't forget we expect the public to take the same star and every time they see a picture believe there certain colors
so there are three big issues hair makeup and clothes and so the three of us we translate people men women children into characters and we asked you the public to believe that they are not themselves so obviously i'm not cranky you as an actress i am trying to help you be what you are and what most actresses are intelligent enough that is the ones with whom i've worked they're intelligent enough to realize that helping them up going to your pocket into something what are the other factors the axis are they are the only ones that you do have to deal with the producers thought you know so many people think a lovely <unk> saturday at the beautiful clothes whatever you want to go seattle's scriptures in the scripps says for example grace kelly as a beautiful heiress you know into ketchup features lovely clothes the next picture could de grace kelly girl who was a middle aged very frumpy very unattractive or a young woman so in other words i do not actually decide when i want i thought the script and then i have to show to the director the producer the
show to the camera bad news show to the art director to see i don't know a gray suit that they said you also show it to the man who designs the eu they call for the surge and lustig well we have something horrible called a budget he gets older the time you will have satisfied all those it is not just what i want to do is how i can correlate with these other departments and still achieve what i would like to how much does the technical side of it bear on what you do that is did do you have a pretty intensive sessions with the director with the cinematographer the line i don't know it depends the princess with hitchcock when you were reading hitchcock script you know if you're doing other scripts to say she wears a dress that need to head to head meetings at it means you do have to have meetings to have to discuss things with a person wears the costumes the others are not native frances i could have as i can pop festival cameron and every employee and he could say edith can you possibly not give me a white dress
it's a crime scene in the moonlight is that the very difficult can you do it off white or a pesto you see that's what about cooperation not that they are saying i can't do it will be easier does that ever affect the line all the fabric as well you know because i mean whether i'd make a dress and painkiller is more important is just actually in other ways when i will have decided dress i realized it is subject to change even then so it's never said it's never said that the pictures that most people realize the difference between custom designing and fashion because in fashion design i would decide what i as a designer lot as a costume designer i design what i have to do because of the script well there's different from where the style coming here cause that's the third word in the crown for star manor top descriptors tout doesn't mean anything but you have a style i do is it not every picture but when you do a period
picture i just had this little one that has great style and beauty but i did originate the outskirts of the city actually i can't say that it's it's really that in the original well let's talk about some event reginald i'm here for instance if they owned a rendering of a dress that you did was a hundred years ago we're sad and also became a symbol of what we call the lombard look lovely by a stress because they warn today without the train the separate scarf became offer did the shawl and the over tonight but don't forget now that this was in a period where we could use any color we wanted we didn't have to worry about black and white came into the picture i'll tell it and that chemical either a little further let's go to one of the pictures that that i'm interested now on this tour which is all about me respect sets them apart a sequence that split says sheik of rustling down the staircase of the cities that i can use attack them go to
launder all across material which is the act that is they don't like now it is also she comes out of a handful of prophets obviously and we've actually say she pushes up her sleeve every so often apply to cigarette obviously am going to do you know your sleeve so actually the whole dresses motivated on the story so that's what i mean by saying that i think is a very important subject to bring out that what i have to do is interpreted a script and they can come to life but that doesn't mean that she had that never has limited view that that what other people would consider the limitations of the city seemed to sharpen what you dream of where that doesn't mean that i they do beautiful clothes i think i got the kennedy airport i think it's an extraordinary picture from a costume point of view but if i had not had a script i might have done something different in other words it's a guideline
and weapons to theater the television pictures any form of visual art is motivated by a story well take for example another one of year of year academy award winners i think was a samson and delilah unions the labyrinth beautiful boston's for human line known how do you arrive at those that's historical and one course that is one of the saddest things that assange very few years ago we had something called sasha ship which says you should say is that you cannot show of the season you cannot show ladies naples region have no idea just one facet of a ladder you could not show it allies navel which of the joke since its naval and no one has ever explained to me why a male neighbor was not sensible and female one is but anyhow that's what happened but the thing is what we did we did a great deal of research and then we would have to change who would have to cover up things that ended up by being a much more coverage costume that the original thing is not to date we have less
censorship we have more reality a fire in the sense of violence to date i would probably be very accurate egyptian customs what egyptians have to know i don't know how well it's middle easily somewhere in that nine and it's over in that the natural area where the design things would would prevail but then for for the heiress you could do an extra percent everybody everybody was covered up in the air is also an heiress don't forget it's a period about which a great deal has been written and there still is a great deal of authentic material around actually a willy wyler was such a perfectionist that he set the east to go to glitzy galleries to get a real course that you know it will cause it looks like i don't know that i can describe and you know i have volunteers are the real source of changes you see it won created headphones hear another had their soul he won and one for the scene in the mid in the bedroom and we have a copy an authentic petticoats authentic every and other words it could have been a real representation of the real thing but that's what's exciting
about pictures i don't think the public realizes that today everything we do is so academically perfect that it's as close to the real thing as you could toss you know that's why i'm so pleased to be here in dallas because i understand dallas's interest as the same famous pictures and fun to talk about them it's exotic and i think the case of the public is so super of nowadays well i think that's true i think the us also has some reputation as a as a market center and as a style setter and perhaps is more is more sensitive to to some of the suspects perhaps that's a challenge to market not what i find out is very receptive to have been tampered design i designed for vogue patterns and i didn't love the fashion show here at the work that the wonderful voice dallas i think is the dallas woman's club fantastic place and we showed all the great costumes the past and then i showed the content free patterns which are more laws imposed by the close of the pack asked once you and critter
business rather be the pattern business if i would be good to have it is i would have to build dozens of close and don't worry about whether they sold or not to nuts is precarious thing and also and patterns better job or doesn't lie a lot fatter or thinner younger tell anything i want because i learned over the years that the clothes really are magic so why do the patterns i do them with the plight of you not well the woman have a pretty cristobal woman herself a better it's fun and i feel like dr key areas of it difficult to address doctor and i can answer is often feel a little medical when i say lady or got a big bold you know the three major belts at the dia one of the greatest things that happens on for a cure get older the woman can get top heavy bottom heavier heavy over the jeweler yes and have you heard of that yes i have heard and if you were the right pattern you can discuss his camouflage to a while what do you do when for instance you're
making a picture an unknown a custom pictures and i know that that presents a certain kind of problem but i've seen a lot of pictures that lately dealing with close of the forties and clothes of the fifties and that they are accurate as nearly as i can tell the ten that will mark the clothes i wore in the forties the clothes or the fifties you know why change the i know i think that we have a tendency in every period there aren't really close bed close a medium close and i think that the designers when we design a period film try to take the best of the design and skip the horrors because every every period does have a close and so would have numbers a choice between a shoulder that looks like a football player or a medium shoulder were wrapped up to pick the more extreme which is which is the safest thing to do but you know every every picture that i just finished a little women for the third time the florida how wonderful lovely grier garson was incredibly beautiful as she plays a wealthy actor looks incredibly handsome and
so that's a sort of thing that makes up for the things that are pleasant and then you do pictures where you have i just finished in one for elizabeth taylor where she plays the middle a schoolteacher you know just playing with our clothes so everything you have is a different language he is there anything different do you feel in the way we look back at that what happened is there was what is different in the present i does that affect the way we remember our desire memory oh perfect the way that i think what has happened we had all was until the last few years have a certain amount of regulation and other words we were certain close to places of worship we so are certain close the beach resorts are enclosed morning noon and night today i just think you throw anything on and go anyplace you want which is very unfortunate because i don't i don't think we'll ever go back to regulations again i don't think we can i don't think i think a lot of people have to go from places of work when they go out things that sir but i think
this one dress for all things that cruel unkind thing i think that that fashion to date has two things it has only is freshened has ever been designed and still some of the best so we have some american designers i think the fantastic clothes can you can you say which ones are like well i think for just general support cause calvin klein this fantastic clothes my favorite designers ask the current events like the shows yes i feel like a jury could finalize its custody so you see we have great designers here however we get somewhat freaked design like gun so in the paper the other day you're supposed to look like one of hitler's main officers with great show for why there isn't any reason why in this day of age we should get a pet shelters we're in a period of freedom and comfort and believe me they are not that comfortable when us and i go back to that to the whole sense of old fashioned control which traditional
for so many years was was out of france as has spread to some degree that says short skirt links always go up go down go out to go and what does control waist you know i think the whole point is it's economic reason i think that stores want to sell clothes i think designers wanted make money the way to do it is to hit a headline and say this is it this is the quake that everything gets it next exposure of the city people will buy it and unfortunately nowadays you have to do something pretty unusual to get headlines if you do something bad enough believe me people buying if he gets enough exposure however i've just been talking to some people here of the newspapers saw some of the things it's perfectly beautiful perfectly normal lovely clothes coming in so you have to make if your mind are either be a freak aren't sure how you feel about that try not to be afraid that when we go back to some of
the elements that we were talking about before the senate you have gone for as the docent i have no idea whether it's a nelson or whether it came out measures collection it will be just as good intelligence twelve thirteen years old that were deliberately does that have anything to do with the reason for the freaking us that that no it's just that i have the likes of my own clothes new clothes but isn't that what i'm saying is isn't that the reason for the frickin as if if all of us can wear leather clothes and love them for ten or fifteen years you notice i didn't keep it at the broad shoulders and michael are at a no no football shoulders that i noticed but they're there is fashion that is good to share this flesh that isn't kind and it might go back to my patterns i cried in the normalcy of course naturally i do clamor calls beautiful clothes not just every day clothes because i represent a glamour industry but everything i do is made so i can be worn jr night for instance a suit which will have a long skirts short skirt the barricades along with a tub
because i think people are so should get a lot of mileage out of their clothes but nobody's going to change factions he's elected congress or the world it's gonna tell women ought to wear seventy five years ago in uniform well we did once sort of tearing were award to but what about that help loving revolution of the sixties and the young people are horrible that was the well was troublesome in a way i think to those of us who are used to thinking about closing a certain way and i don't think they think about closing that way but the protests still came out i mean there were blue jeans and blue jeans and their well i think the sixties is the all time low in fashion america i'll tell you so much was motivated by you can wear anything anytime anyplace and other words if you preferred not to wash your hair your much more chic she bought some old or even a secondhand store that was just lovely in other words it was fun amusing for the kids to do it but when the older people got to have that look that i thought was rather
pathetic isn't it really was a it it was a minute the un it was a kind of a rebellion against the young people i thought they wanted to look like freaks let them but when his older freaks i think frida should stop at the age of twenty five well that's when they start being for a good idea since they were being younger people i was going to ask you though was if that concerned you at the time in the sixties yes because i cannot remember any anything is i've found is that approach to close i have a feeling of all sense of close as a celebration of place or celebration of it going bad word i don't think it happened but so far hasn't affected me i guarded but i did know that the close unless i got a picture with hippies and then i really attribute them but don't i just felt that i was afraid
that it was a fantasy if it's a duty to criticize a thing like this i don't feel about like myself has any right to criticize any movement of the young people because i think they have a terrific influence on fashion what i represent is the older people falling it is a nearly always do you know there is a time and age were really women should wear tight blue jeans becomes very very like that in blue jeans you're gonna be here forever why some things that come out every fashion revolt that seemed to stick around and that's our earliest fashion in america the blue demon jane stuart i didn't realize that europe waited not for women was well no but i have been the millions of blue devils originated said you know the gold rush so america's first countries to fashion was a blue jeans and hypothesize will be the last one will never give it up wonderful in them but i don't wear them out when i work i think there's a place for everything
but one of your arm academy awards was for the sting for the men's clothes have you always designed for men just i did more men than women actually when i started i just through your email actor cary grant all of them what well if i say what's the difference last year to get a smart answer for mere with somebody but i mean i know i know that it's an approach to have it all goes badly as it does in other words in the script the men were prevalent they were both stars and said that they were against that taxes would cost of that period and so i did a lot of research and director of close they were not original i didn't invent the close of that period but with two handsome and like the working man in anything whether it's contemporary art period it's much easier because men have no hang ups the average woman the time she's an adult has certain fixed ideas of certain colors she
likes certain that she likes certain fabrics the average male track is not that the ticket or they may say i like i don't like this or that but as a rule of man look a sketch and say find the average for most elite if it's lovely can i have pain instead of blue order from a client because of the male prerogative well all of these years that you had been designing for the man did it it seems to me that the real sort of turnover in men's clothes has been within the last five or ten years and we will always do you fail to be basically the same thing to them and all was very much motivated by the british no look please i think that over the years that you had to say do i like the french influence italian influence i would say the biggest influence has been more consistent with america's lifestyle and the way we live you know i'm trying to bring back from and what else when the daily
now i don't know but i was i saw a picture the other night of a scottish regiment my math skills for sale and after that there was something that i have never seen american man i mean you know and stations every year i've seen them but not in america ever danced with no i've never plans to bring them back alive i defy you know coming and to texas yesterday ice are more men into all very very short shorts and i've ever seen in my life lots of law is latest in my life i think that women probably would would dare resented the women cannot wear kills the woman the scots women can only wear the they have shaul throw i think so i think so a lot of scouts for their scarce they have to wear whatever they're going to wear but they basically went wetland the evidence that the countess's life as issues to be for women it is absolutely a man's garment and
being quite serious i don't think that ever allied camera can see a drastic change in men's clothing why not well we may see differences in the width of a pale different suites of thai whether they will wear a vessel and they won't wear vests but man i think it mattered happened easily pushed and it freaks them much more sensible than women when you come to fashion why he's defended the system and i don't think i don't think for example suppose is i suppose this is this morning paper here for an ad on the front says fantastic new outfit for a man with one leg or chills or something ridiculous and then what that would do would go by the two or something i think as a woman i think i would try it on its interests of very very cautiously to have a close well i hadn't expected it for many many years but i don't think i've noticed i actually i notice i've been
noticing particularly of them and i'm guessing some of the pictures with lead nowadays and i noticed how comfortable and relaxed the men here look cause it's hot weather and that's a reason that they all look so you know casual and not freaking fabrics what fair at how much it even affected by the three synthetic fabrics and i don't use it and less as a reason to do it actually i'd find out that most closely a better for my use in in the real fabrics cotton linen rentals ill and you don't have a prominence presumably however for travel and certain things ethics and takes a wonderful because they don't know us now they don't show a show where we like he's out for myself why did you hire my own favorite guinea pig that make things up for me that they're terrible nobody ever since the increasing so anyway that is my my wish for dallas
that everybody gets caught a close and make some of the very best you know people today on the whole have the power of choice because it isn't the case of years ago and only people with money to buy clothes because even the most expensive clothes are sold off and much so you know the all kinds of stores but if i had one rule i would say don't buy a lot of clothes just by one or two close knit change and the accessories this is i read this with a black turtleneck sweater looks like another custom why work with a print blouse and other words that the potential of being a woman is his very special it sounds more more special all time thank you need it get it we'll see you next week at night easy to a painter race
or an a and h at age eighteen
Swank in The Arts
Episode Number
Edith Head, costume designer
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KERA (Dallas, Texas)
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Episode Description
Famed motion picture costume designer, Edith Head is interviewed.
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“Swank in the Arts” was KERA’s weekly in-depth arts television program.
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Film and Television
Motion Picture interview; The business of a Costume designer for the Motion Picture industry
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Director: Parr, Dan
Executive Producer: Howard, Brice
Host: Swank, Patsy
Interviewee: Head, Edith
Producer: Swank, Patsy
Producing Organization: KERA
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Identifier: cpb-aacip-2aa44d9d784 (Filename)
Format: 2 inch videotape: Quadruplex
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Swank in The Arts; 123; Edith Head, costume designer,” 1978-08-30, KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Swank in The Arts; 123; Edith Head, costume designer.” 1978-08-30. KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Swank in The Arts; 123; Edith Head, costume designer. Boston, MA: KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from