Alumna addresses costumes at Cinema Sunday


Grant Park/Chronicle

Olivia Chuba ’12 speaks on Zoom to school community members about Edith Head’s costuming career.

Grant Park

Olivia Chuba ’12 joined Cinema Sundays on Sunday, featuring Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Windows,” with a closer look at the film’s costume designer Edith Head and her work on the film.

Cinema Sunday is hosted and moderated by ISIR and Performing Arts Teacher Ted Walch, who started Cinema Sunday eight years ago as a fundraising effort and developed it into a program where he provides a casual yet informative discussion with a guest speaker for students, faculty and community members.

Walch welcomed Chuba to return as an alumna speaker to his program. He said he loves talking to students and alumni who are passionate about films and other special components of films such as costumes.

Originally released by Paramount Pictures in 1954, “Rear Windows” is an American mystery thriller based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder.” Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter, the film is considered by many critics as one of Hitchcock’s best.

Walch said he chose “Rear Windows” for the conversation since Hitchcock’s background as an art director shines through the film.

“The film ‘Rear Windows’ was chosen for this conversation because people don’t realize Alfred Hitchcock began as an art director,” Walch said. “He was an art director before he directed [movies], and so you have a great art director here and he certainly has an understanding of color, working with the extraordinary woman Edith Head.”

Walch also said that he wanted to demonstrate how costumes play a significant role in films.

“There were two reasons [why I focused on the costumes]: one, it’s a departure from usually either doing the movie alone or [talking] generally,” Walch said. I have an actor or a director, or somebody to talk about the music,” people don’t think to talk about costumes. Here is a person [Edith Head] with a specialty, and she plays such a clearly important role in this movie.”

Chuba shared that Head, who was nominated 35 times and won eight Oscars for Best Costume Design, is one of the most decorated women in the history of film.

“Edith Head was Hitchcock’s favorite costume designer, and they worked on 11 movies together,” Chuba said. “[She designed] all of the main costumes for Grace Kelly, ranging from 1940’s high fashion dress with fitted bodice to satin nightgowns and casual print day dress.”

Computer Programming and Mathematics Teacher Jessica Kaufman, who has been attending Cinema Sundays since 2019, said she noticed Grace Kelly’s stunning and sometimes colorful outfits but the conversation helped her to see beyond the costume itself.

“During the discussion, Ted and Olivia helped me see that costumes also symbolized changes in Grace Kelly’s character as she went from being a socialite to an adventurer,” said Kaufman.