The man who dressed Marilyn
With a career spanning over 40 years and more than 100 credits to his name, William Travilla was one of the most prolific Hollywood designers of the 20th century.
The Assembly Rooms in Bath, home of the Fashion Museum, is hosting a touring exhibition this summer of his work. The exhibition will open on Tuesday, 29 July and continue until Friday, 22 August.
William Travilla is best known for dressing Marilyn Monroe for eight of her films and this exhibition showcases five prototypes of these dresses, alongside two dresses designed for Marilyn for personal appearances.
Two other dresses will also be exhibited. One was designed for Judy Garland, and later worn by Susan Hayward in Valley of the Dolls, and the other was designed for Betty Grable in 1958.
'The White Dress', from the film 7 Year Itch (1955) is likely to be the most famous dress he ever made for Marilyn Monroe.
On display is an identical copy made by William Travilla during her lifetime from the original pattern, as the dress worn in the film is owned by actress Debbie Reynolds.
Three dresses are featured from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). 'The Gold Dress' is made from one complete circle of fabric and hand pleated, and was one of Marilyn Monroe's favourite designs.
'The Pink Satin Dress' is the original prototype designed for Marilyn, later adapted to make it wearable for the famous routine Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
'The Red Sequin Dress' is also the original prototype of the dress worn in the famous opening scene with Jane Russell.
'The Purple Dress' from the film How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) is a satin and sequin halter gown, featured in a fantasy sequence.
'The Pink Dress', a ruched bias-cut evening gown, and 'The Cream Dress', a pleated halter-neck, were both designed and made by William Travilla for Marilyn for personal appearances.
William Travilla dressed approximately 270 celebrities including Jane Russell, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich.
He won an Oscar for dressing Errol Flynn in Don Juan. When the Golden Era of Hollywood ended, he focused on running a thriving couture business alongside work for television epics such as Dallas.
The exhibition also displays original patterns and sketches for the dresses, including the pattern of the famous 7 Year Itch white pleated halter dress worn in the film.
The Oscar will be on display, alongside one of several Emmy awards achieved by William Travilla during his career.
This is a touring exhibition in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, promoted by Andrew Hansford on behalf of Bill Sarris, owner of the William Travilla collection.
Admission to the exhibition in the Great Octagon is included in the Fashion Museum ticket, which is free to residents of Bath & North East Somerset with a Discovery Card. The Fashion Museum is open daily.
last updated: 19/06/2008 at 12:47
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