Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious

Notorious was my first opportunity to dress Ingrid the way she should be. For such a big woman, she was a joy to dress. I was able to do evening clothes, sports clothes, street clothes – the whole gamut. I just had to be sure what I did pleased Hitch. He was very specific about costumes for his leading ladies. He spoke a designer’s language, even though he didn’t know the first thing about clothes. He specified colors in the script if they were important. If he wanted a skirt that brushed a desk as a woman walked by, he spelled that out too. For Notorious, he repeated many times that the clothes must not be a focal point, that Bergman was to be a believable secret agent.”

Edith Head quoted in Paddy Calistro’s biography: Edith Head’s Hollywood

The famed photojournalist, Robert Capa, took a few shots on set:


  1. I have that Paddy Calistro book—I love reading about all of those fantastic outfits Edith Head came up with, and how each actress posed different challenges because of how they were built. This dress for Ingrid Bergman was stunning.

    • Vickie Lester

      Hey Madame Weebles! I love how the distinction between fashion design and costume design is delineated in the book. I have some friends who design wardrobe and they’re always telling me it’s a tightrope — most actresses have couture demands while directors are looking to define character. Edith and Paddy illustrate this beautifully. And, it sounds like Ingrid was a dream to work with.

  2. Wonderful backstory you share here about costume design—always nice peaking behind the curtain! This is one of my favorite films, for reasons that go far beyond the obvious (stories for another day:-))

    • Vickie Lester

      How about your backstory over tea sometime? I made my nephew (who’s studying design here) watch this film with me the other day to illustrate… just about everything that’s finest in movie making. It is one of the greats!

  3. Mainstream Bollywood would vehemently disagree with Hitchcock’s statement on clothes not being the focal point! Fortunately, that’s begun changing now and characters have begun looking more believable.

  4. Yeah, maybe outside India where only about 5-10% of India’s yearly output gets released! Here its fashion porn! Some films use costumes well though. A recent one would be Shuddha Desi Romance (Pure Indian Romance) that’s got very elegant traditional wardrobe for the ladies; it completely in sync with the film’s setting. Would recommend you to watch this film, if you find it; its got 3.5 out of 4 on Roger Ebert’s site and has been screened at a couple of film festivals.

  5. Pingback: North by Northwest – Required Viewing | waldina

  6. Pingback: Notorious – Required Viewing | waldina

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: