Life is stranger than fiction – the animated character, Edna Mode, a supporting character in Disney/Pixar’s 2004 animated film, The Incredibles and its 2018 sequel, is based on a real person. In the movie, Edna is a fashion designer for Supers and a close friend of the Parr family. The character is based on the real-life Edith Head, costume designer.

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Edna Mode (The Incredibles)

According to characters featured in the movie, The Incredibles, Edna Mode is the woman who designed the costume for virtually every superhero that existed in this universe. Edna is a peculiar, straightforward character who ends up being of great use to all superheroes. Edna is the one who insists that no one in the family wears a cape. At the end of The Incredibles movie, a cape causes the villain, Syndrome’s gruesome death. Maybe Edna is precognizant! 

The Real-Life Inspiration: Edith Head

Edna’s character is mainly based on real-life costume designer Edith Head (1897 – 1981), whose career began in the 1920s Hollywood as an assistant costume designer. Head ultimately became the leading costume designer of Hollywood’s golden age, heading (no pun intended) Paramount’s and later Universal’s costume departments, and earning eight Oscars (and over 30 nominations) during a career that included work on hundreds of movies.

Like Edna Mode, Head was incredibly productive: She’s listed as a costume designer in 436 movies, including VertigoRear WindowThe Birds, and eight other Hitchcock classics. The look of Edna Mode matches Head’s, with large, round-framed spectacles and short, straight, dark hair.

Head once said, “I hate modesty,” while Mode admitted that she was “the best of the best.”