She Gave Good Gown

Fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a wild post!

Edith Head with Gloria Swanson

Edith Head was one of Hollywood’s most enduring costume designers. While not as innovative as some of her other contemporaries like Adrian or Rambova, she distinguished herself by delivering good product that pleased both actors and directors alike. This resulted in a record breaking 35 Oscar nominations for which she won no less than 8 Academy Awards. Edith Head is responsible for creating many of the iconic looks that we now identify as ‘ Old Hollywood Glamour’. Having dressed the likes of Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Kim Novak, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, the list goes on and on. She once said ‘If it’s a Paramount film I probably designed it.’

All About Eve-George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Anne Baxter

One of her most curious collaborations was designing the costumes for Gloria Swanson in ‘Sunset Boulevard’. Curious because Edith had begun her career at Paramount (Then called the Laskey Studios) not only as a sketch artist but also as the wardrobe girl whose main job was to wash out Miss Swanson’s lingerie. At the time Gloria was the studio’s biggest star and Edith was basically a no body. Fast forward some 40 years later and now she was in charge of creating the look for what was to be Gloria Swanson’s big ‘comeback’ movie. The irony was not lost on Edith and it was something she reflected upon in her later years. 

Gloria Swanson, William Holden-Sunset Boulevard

Thanks to her steadfast professionalism, she continued to work long after many of her contemporaries had retired and even long after her passing she was immortalized as the character ‘Edna Mode’ in ‘The Incredibles’ and as a Google Doodle! She was even part of the Universal Studios Tour where she and her costume shop where part of the attractions!


But Edith had her fun and dishy side as well. In her biography ‘Edith Head’s Hollywood’ she complains ad infinitum about having to deal with the ego of director Cecil B. DeMille with whom she collaborated on over 10 films, referring to him as  ‘A conceited old goat with small hands’. Ouch! She was asked once if the rumors were true that Mae West was really a man, her response was: ‘I have seen her without a stitch and she’s all woman. No man can have a body like that!’ Touché. And Kim Novak was on the receiving end of this little zinger: ‘Dressing Kim Novak for her role in ‘Vertigo’ put to the test all my training in psychology.’  Yikes!

‘Paging Dr Freud’ Kim Novak-Vertigo

Ms Head was scheduled to be a guest speaker while I was a student at F.I.T.. I remember being so exited to actually be seeing this Hollywood legend in the flesh, discussing her distinguished career. Unfortunately it was announced, right before the lights went on that Ms Head was unwell and would not be appearing that day. So instead we were treated to a fashion show of some of here most iconic looks with models wearing Grace Kelly’s ballgown from ’To Catch a Thief’ and Kim Novak’s exquisitely tailored grey suit from ‘Vertigo’, Bette’ Davis’ topaz satin party dress from ‘All About Eve’ and a whole lot more. Sadly, it was announced a few days later that she had passed away. She never let her public down even to the end. Please enjoy these highlights from her best known films.

Grace Kelly-To Catch a Thief
Paul Newman, Robert Redford- The Sting
Anne Baxter-The Ten Commandments -Nice Hands!



Recent updates to my Gallery Page:

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The Costumes by Antonia Gallery page has been updated so now you can see an overview of what has been keeping me busy all this time. Please click on the image to see images and videos from Super Bowl LI, Toddlers with Tiaras, Fantasy Weddings, CosPlay and a whole lot more. 


It’s never too late to Unleash Your Inner Fashionista©!

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‘The Envelope Please’

Congratulations to Mark Bridges for winning the Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design for ‘Phantom Thread’ AND winning a jet ski for the shortest acceptance speech. Obviously Mr Bridges is a man of few words. What can be cooler? Winning an Oscar or riding a jet ski with Dame Helen Mirren?


And Finally

(Because we save the best for last!)

It is my distinct honor to share  the news of this upcoming exhibit at the HR Giger Museum in Gruyere, Switzerland by my dear friend and mentor Martina Hoffmann and her late husband Robert Venosa. H R Giger, was best known as the creator of the ‘Alien’ monster from the film of the same name and for which he was awarded an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. The theme of the exhibit is ‘Transmutations’ and I think it is only fitting to include this with the theme of the newsletter. I hope that my friends reading this who live in Geneva and its environs will be able to attend this most auspicious event. 

Martina Hoffmann, along with being a superb painter is also a superb fashion designer who created the one of a kind ‘Goddess Belts’ and amazingly sublimated ready to wear. You can see more of Martina’s designs by clicking here:

or visiting her website below. 

Please click on the image  to be directed to the Giger Museum Website.

For more information about the artists please visit their websites:


Costume Drama!


Costume Drama 2016!

Well who knew? 2016 is almost a memory and the Awards Season is just around the corner. That can only mean that its time for the studios to release their ‘Oscar Worthy’ films and that of course means plenty of Costume Dramas for us to sink our teeth into. Let’s start by reviewing some of the major releases although there are tons more that time or space won’t allow me to cover. That will just have to wait for my annual newsletter ‘And the Winners Are..’ which is usually released right after the nominations.

So let’s begin with:

Magnificent Seven
Magnificent Seven

‘The Magnificent 7’
OK, so how many times are they going to recycle ‘7 Samurai’? Personally I prefer Akiro Kurosawa’s original but anything starring Denzel Washington deserves my attention. So here I would like to address the costumes designed by veteran Sharen Davis. Share already has some western cowboy credits having worked with Tarantino in ‘Django Unchained’, and in ‘Magnificent 7’ she does not disappoint; I liked how her use of muted colors to highlight the gang of seven was much like the samurai costumes in the original, but at the same time giving each character their own individual costuming conceit. For example, the Vincent D’Onofrio character’s almost elizabethan looking vest and Denzel’s black on black ensemble. Sharen Davies received an Oscar nomination for her costumes in ‘Django’, so let’s see if the fates smile down on her this awards season.

The Handmaiden


‘The Handmaiden’
WOW! This is on my ‘must see’ list and I wish the film would hurry up and make its way out here. It’s not in general release yet, so I may have to drive out to Austin just to see it. ‘The Handmaiden’ is based on a novel by the same name and the story revolves around the relationship between a wealthy heiress and her personal maid. Ok so the story has been told before but not as it’s interpreted by Director Park Chan-woo. This erotic thriller is set in 1930’s Korea and presents luscious sets and costume combining western and eastern aesthetics. Costume Designer Sang-gyeong Jo creates the most exquisite ‘costume porn’ that I have ever seen since ‘The Cell’. So far, Jo has only collaborated on a few previous project with Park and I hope that this breakthrough movie serves as a stepping stone to bigger and greater things. The Envelope Please!

Dr Strange
Dr Strange

‘Dr. Strange’
So far of all the films presented here, this has to be my personal favorite. Of course not having seen ‘The Handmaiden’, so that may change. In spite of the obnoxiously bad 3D, this movie was fun to watch and featured so many occult allusions that after the movie ended, I had to run home and brush up on my ‘Key of Solomon.’ But the costumes by Alexandra Byrne are what make the movie shine.Dr Strange’s Magical Cape alone is worth the price of admission and should get a nomination for ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’. It’ll be the first time an article of clothing would receive that recognition and deservedly so. Bad puns aside, the Magic Cape is a ‘stand alone’ performance. Ms. Byrne is a veteran of the Marvel franchise, having designed costumes for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Thor’. Good Job!

Fantastic Serafina

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
The Harry Potter franchise returns and perennial Oscar nominee/winner Designer Colleen Atwood is in charge of the Costumes once again. Being that this is such a moneymaker for Warner Brothers, Ms. Atwood plays it safe in the wardrobe interpretation but there are some standouts like Seraphina Picquery’s lovely tunic pictured here. There is no doubt in my mind that Colleen Atwood will receive another Oscar nomination but whether she actually gets it is another story. I am keeping my fingers crossed for ‘The Handmaiden’ or ‘Dr. Strange’.

Assassins Creed

‘The Assassins Creed’
Welcome to the Spanish Inquisition! NOT! Finally, the video games make it to the big screen and like they used to say before the ‘Auto de Fe’, you can’t keep a good Borgia down. Costume designer Sammy Sheldon is a bit of a newcomer here, having started her career in showbiz as an actress but shifted her efforts to working behind the camera. I did a quick IMDB search for her and discovered that her first design effort was for ‘V for Vendetta’ which ostensibly makes her the mother of the Guy Fawkes mask! Who’da thunk it? Well, this broad has just earned my total RESPECT! Unfortunately no amount of string pulling with my contacts in the industry was able to get me a preview of ‘Assassins Creed’ so I guess that I will have to stand in line with all of the lesser mortals when this film goes into general release of December 21st.



This film is a parable on a ‘Post Dallas’ Jackie. Natalie Portman rocks the ‘Locust Valley Lockjaw’ accent playing the widowed First Lady trying to put her life in order following the assignation of her husband. First time designer for a major American film is French costume designer Madeline Fontaine who’s previous credits include ‘Amelie’ and ‘ Asterix at the Olympics’ (really). To her credit she did a good job replicating Jackie’s pink suit worn in Dallas, her widow’s weed’s for the Presidential funeral, telling Jackie’s story through her wardrobe. For the record, I would just like to clarify one thing here and now: Contemporary fashion pundits are saying that the pink suit she wore in Dallas was designed by Chanel. That is WRONG! The suit was actually a Chanel knock off designed by American Designer (and FIT professor emeritus, Pauline Trigere).
The actual worn by JKO is now locked away in the National archives where it will stay out of the public eye until the year 2103.


In this new release from Martin Scorcese, veteran production crew member Dante Ferretti, pulls double duty as both Production Designer AND Costume Designer. This is quite an undertaking for the average mortal. But he has done so in the past for other Scorsese projects such as ‘Kundun’. Looking at the publicity image provided by Paramount Studios, it’s safe to say that only an Italian can manage to make a Jesuit priest look sexy!

Do I smell an Oscar for any of these efforts?

We’ll see when the AMPAS nominations are announced on

January 24, 2017!

Till then, Happy Viewing!

But wait, there’s more!

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Wishing all of you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season and Peaceful 2017!

With Love!