William Travilla was one of the most sought-after designers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, creating outfits for Jane Russell, Paul Newman, Judy Garland, and Lauren Bacall, and earning an Oscar in 1949 for his work in Adventures of Don Juan. But his most famous client was undoubtedly Marilyn Monroe.
In Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla (Applause Books, $29.99), Andrew Hansford takes fans of Hollywood glamor and fans of fashion back in time. Dressing Marilyn features previously unseen material, including original sketches, patterns, and costume test shots, along with insights from lost interviews with Travilla that reveal the fashion secrets of a Hollywood goddess.
Hansford, the manager of the Travilla archives, explains how Travilla’s life was turned upside down after meeting Marilyn Monroe, and how he became her exclusive designer and friend for many years. He takes the reader into a world of glamor and sophistication, revealing how Travilla – with the help of the white dress that was no match for a subway grate in The Seven-Year Itch, the stunning pink dress in which Marilyn sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and many other equally memorable creations – helped transform Marilyn into one of moviedom’s most memorable sex symbols.
“Writing about such an incredible part of America’s history — The Glory Days of Hollywood — teases and excites the reader to know more about this glorious time,” Hansford explained. “My focus is on Travilla’s early career and his friendship with his muse Marilyn Monroe. Never has a partnership lasted the test of time like these two, Marilyn, still the most talked about, copied, and written about star, and Travilla the man who dressed her.”
In addition to print and broadcast publicity and marketing to coincide with the book’s North American debut in April, Dressing Marilyn will be a centerpiece of festivities celebrating Marilyn Monroe on the 50th anniversary of her death in August.