OSCAR WINNING COSTUME DESIGNER WILLIAM TRAVILLA was the secret behind Marilyn Monroe’s popular costume outfits. No one knew legendary screen goddess Marilyn Monroe like Travilla. The famous 36-26-36 hourglass silhouette of the bombshell would help secure Travilla’s place in Hollywood history. Although Marilyn Monroe was Travilla’s most celebrated muse, he designed for over 270 celebrities but none like Monroe who catapulted to super-stardom while donning Travilla’s most important costumes.
Some of the Marilyn Monroe highlights of the “Collection of William Travilla” designs include a Monroe/Andy Warhol Blue Tribute Dress which was created for an Andy Warhol memorial service at the Beverly Hilton and mimics the famous “Seven Year Itch dress”, a Marilyn Monroe “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” inspired gown by Travilla featuring the gold lame sunburst halter gown design, a “Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes” Travilla sketch), Travilla’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business” Academy Award plaque a 1953 Travilla “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” costume sketch and a Marilyn Monroe “Seven Year Itch” inspired Travilla gown along with several other pieces.
Also included are his personal effects, sewing room artifacts, Oscar patterns and original watercolor renderings.
Through his close friendship with Marilyn Monroe Travilla created one of the most iconic costumes in all of film – the pleated ivory cocktail dress Monroe wore in the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch”. His costume became synonymous with Monroe as she wore it while standing on a New York subway ventilation grate and as the subway train passed the dress flew up in the air. Travilla was also nominated for an Academy Award for “How to Marry a Millionaire” in 1953, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” in 1954 and “The Stripper” in 1963. Over the course of just a few years Travilla designed for eight of Monroe’s films and many of these gowns have gone down in history as his most important works. Monroe was so enamored with Travilla that she once autographed one of her infamous calendars with the inscription “Oh Billy dear please dress me forever, Love Marilyn.”
Travilla also designed for other iconic women of film and music including Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Faye Dunaway, Judy Garland, Sharon Tate, Jane Russell, Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Diahann Carroll, Susan Hayward, Loretta Young, Joanne Woodward, Barbara Stanwyck and many more. Other highlights from Travilla’s personal collection will include a brown chocolate Betty Grable dress worn in “How to Marry a Millionaire,” a black satin Linda Gray “Dallas” Travilla Gown from the 1980’s and Travilla’s Emmy Award for “Dallas”.
In addition to his achievements in Hollywood, he also created a successful high-end fashion line that spanned several decades with many of the collections being directly influenced by the costumes he created for film and television. Travilla remains the subject of documentaries, films, books and feature stores to this day because of his dramatic influence with Marilyn Monroe and in film in general.
“You cannot compare the influence Travilla had on Hollywood fashion history,” said Martin Nolan, Executive Director of Julien’s Auctions. “His personal iconic representations of Marilyn Monroe’s fashions and his incredible friendship with the screen icon is what Hollywood lore is made of. We are thrilled to exhibit the very rare fashion collection from the Estate of William Travilla and look forward to welcoming visitors to the exhibition in the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons.”