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MUSEUMS

Queen of screen

March 04, 2004|David A. Keeps

Edith Head could handle any curve Hollywood threw her.

The eight-time Academy Award-winning costume designer created the sarong to show off Dorothy Lamour's shapely gams, turned Barbara Stanwyck into a wasp-waisted femme fatale in "Double Indemnity" and exposed Audrey Hepburn's clothes-hanger shoulders in "Sabrina's" boat-neck collar.

After this year's pale Oscar fashion show, it's clear we need her more than ever. Compared with today's product-placing celebrity stylists and fawning face-lifted commentators, Edith Head, who dressed stars for the silver screen and the red carpet, always called it like she saw it.

"I have yet to see one completely unspoiled star," she famously pronounced. "Except for Lassie."

Now, 23 years after her death, Head heads have an opportunity to see the designs that made her a legend. "The Art of Edith Head," which opens today at the Hollywood Museum, features nearly 100 sketches as well as gowns worn by Grace Kelly ("To Catch a Thief"), Hedy Lamarr ("Samson and Delilah") and Elizabeth Taylor ("A Place in the Sun").

It's a fitting tribute to Head, who in true Hollywood fashion kept her high profile for 50 years through relentless self-promotion. She wrote books on style, dispensed advice on TV and even appeared as herself -- in her signature round shades and severe suits -- in the 1966 Hollywood potboiler "The Oscar."

*

"The Art of Edith Head," through April 4 at the Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave. Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults, $15; students and seniors, $12.

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