A little backstory on Edna, her family, and what happened before the movie.
Unconventional as her home life was, Edna followed the traditional education of a European lady, World War I intruding only slightly on her young life and ending by the time she was eight. The school she attended was for girls alone and included lessons in etiquette and napkin folding along with dancing, piano, painting, Latin, and French. Edna was an able student and led her class though she received poor marks in courtesy due to her short temper. Despite her lack of tact, Edna- or "E" as she preferred to be called- seemed to have an uncanny genius for anticipating people's moods and needs. Whether a quiet hug or a less-than-gentle shove in the right direction, E provided motivation for many of her friends and fellow students. E herself never seemed to need any encouragement, though she often wondered to herself what was the cause of her frequent headaches and who had left the radio running. It wasn't until high school that she realized the constant chatter she was hearing was not a neglected radio, but the unspoken thoughts of the people around her. It was an ability she quickly learned to use with discretion. Looking into another person's thoughts could be disconcerting indeed. Rather than pry into other's minds, E tried to respect their privacy, eventually learning to form a short of shield around her own mind in order to give herself some peace as well as filter what went in and out of her head.
College was a relatively new world for women in the 1930s. Most women took jobs in order to take husbands, their careers limited to those of either typist or shop clerk. E would have none of that. Her size automatically put her out of the running for any hopes of raising children. Finding a husband even remotely close to her stature seemed improbable and the risk of attempting to bear any children of her own was simply too high. Besides which she had absolutely no interest in any of it. She had her own ideas about what she was going to become. E had learned to sew at an early age and both artistic inspiration and necessity found her making her own clothes. It was either that or dress like a child. Rather than settle for a dull job in an office or shop, E's father encouraged her to enroll at the newly relocated school of architecture and design in Dessau: the Bauhaus. It offered only one course for ladies: textiles, but that suited E just fine. One of only twelve women in her graduating class, E's name would become as famous as many of her classmates such as Marianne Brandt, Oskar Schlemmer, and Gerhard Marcks. Her creative genius exploded within the Bauhaus' modern, artistic environment, her uniquely elegant yet practical designs catching the eyes of Europe's most prominent designers.
E's eye, however, would be caught by another. The Bauhaus frequently held exhibitions and performances of their crafts and inventions. The most memorable of these were the costumed ballets; the dancers dressed in strange, sculpted outfits that resembled machinery or armor more than clothing. It was at one of these she met Karl von Straussen, a man scarcely taller than herself wearing dark sunglasses in a dim theatre. She caught him staring at her and smiled back, struck not only by his height but also the strange familiarity resonating from him though she had never seen him before in her life. She would later realize what she sensed in him were the unique abilities of someone else who had talents beyond those of most people. Karl, a medical student at a nearby university, had X-ray vision. And it was driving him to distraction. Unable to hold a point of focus, his gift was proving to be more of a handicap than an asset. The sunglasses were the best he could do in the way of controlling his power. E went through several drafts but finally came up with a pair of glasses that would allow him to see the world the way everyone else did. He would become the first of many supers to be outfitted by her expertise.
Karl, it seemed, was not the only man in Dessau with unique abilities. His friend and fellow student Julian Xerek had a gift similar to E's in most respects. Instead of hearing thoughts, however, he listened to the electrical signals in the air. It was through Julian that E discovered how to communicate mentally, thinking back and forth to one another until she could speak with Karl the same way despite his telepathic inability. The three of them often spoke aloud together, discussing business and other topics in turn. Mostly they spoke of their talents and theorized about what they might be able to accomplish. Self-taught training sessions had the irritating habit of attracting trouble and quite unwittingly the trio found themselves dabbling in vigilante work. The boys abilities limited mostly to recon, it was E who was the heaviest hitter, utilizing a mix of martial arts and telekinesis to trounce would-be assailants.
E, who before had never even considered the possibility of marriage, now found herself willing to make an exception. Karl was one of few people able to meet and counter her often biting wit and explosive temper. When they weren't busy studying or practicing, E and Karl spent as much time as they could together. Sometimes Julian came along and to cut down on the awkwardness E introduced him to her roommate Marguerite Lance. Tall, blonde, beautiful, the visual antithesis of E and yet the two women got along very well. Initially Julian and Marguerite got along famously, a rapid romance developing in the course of a few days. However, the whirlwind relationship flared and died like a lighted match and E found herself consoling a hysterical roommate. Karl's diagnosis did not help matters. The news, while devastating to Marguerite, was a slap in the face to E as well. She had thought Julian the last person to do something so stupid, so irresponsible. In dishonoring Marguerite he had, to a lesser degree, betrayed E's trust as well. His refusal to take Marguerite as his wife further fueled the smaller woman's rage and E's friendship with Julian came to an abrupt end.
More turbulent times were to follow. Recognizing the signs of another conflict, E's father packed up their belongings and announced a "holiday" in England. A holiday from which they would not return. E tried to persuade Karl to join her and Marguerite but he opted to remain in Germany to try to finish his residency. The Modes and Marguerite crossed the English Channel in 1934. It was the last time Edna would see her homeland or Karl. Marguerite stayed briefly with the Modes until she gave birth to her daughter Samantha. Instead of settling in England, she married an American man and journeyed with him to the United States, periodically writing E. Karl too wrote to E, keeping their romance alive in words. His last letter would come in 1939, written less than a week before the Nazis would take Dessau. Fearing his death but refusing to believe it, she would not learn of his eventual fate until over forty years later. She would remain single, acting as if Karl had never been a part of her life and insisting there was no point in her persuing a romantic relationship. Karl would not be the only victim of the war. E's brother Ernest, younger by eight years, would enlist and serve as part of the British army. The Modes received word in 1942 that he had been killed in action in the Argonne at the age of twenty-four. With the Blitz looming ever nearer, E's father took his wife and daughters and fled to America, desperate to protect what was left of his family.
Despite the war and the subsequent shortages of everything from sugar to cotton, E's career continued to gain momentum. Rather than limit herself to the realm of high fashion, she created outfits and accessories to suit all needs and tastes. Her innovations earned the admiration of such contemporaries as Versacchi, Patou, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior. Unlike her contemporaries, however, E preferred to work almost exclusively free-lance, owing nothing to any company or agent and managing her own affairs. It was in the early 50's that the "super" phenomenon began to emerge. Individuals with unusual talents were now being hailed as heroes. Such public idols needed equipment and costuming. The government began issuing the necessary items but it was E, a founder of what would come to be known as the "equippers", who would outfit over 90% of the Super collective either by original request or when government costumes failed or malfunctioned. Superdom demanded a special sort of haute couture and E eagerly rose to each and every challenge, taking special care to incorporate the necessary articles and securities of each Super's suit. Not a single fatality or injury has ever been reported as the result of an E Design.
The tragic court events in the early 60's saw E's brilliance restricted to the realm of high fashion once again, though it was rumored that she and other Supers continued to moonlight behind the scenes. It was a painful fifteen years for E, her creative genius suffocating in a world where looks alone mattered. She took as much guilty pleasure as her then secret clientele of Supers when rumors of covert missions and giant robots began to circulate. Syndrome and the Incredible family would be catalysts that would restore both Supers and E to their former glory. With "hero work" once again in high demand, E keeps busy spending most of her time designing suits for up and coming heroes as well as updates for regular clients. Some of her most notable suits are those worn by Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone, Gazerbeam, Stratogale, Mirage, Syndrome, and many, many others.