“Billy… Please dress me forever, I love you, Marilyn”
William (Billy) Travilla is best known for dressing Marilyn Monroe in some of her most epic films. The dresses themselves became as epic as MM herself. Even if you haven't seen her movies, you know the costumes. The white dress she wears in The Seven Year Itch on the subway grate. The hot pink dress in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. And so many, many more!
Travilla was born in California in 1920 and showed amazing artistic talent at a very young age. His career in fashion began in the 1940s when discovered by Ann Sheridan, who collected his paintings, took him on as her personal costume designer on the Warner Brother's lot. By the early 50's he was friends with Marilyn Monroe. He designed for two of her movies mentioned above plus Don't Bother to Knock, How to Marry a Millionaire and Bus Stop.
While working on films Travilla also began his own label for the public in the 50s. He understood the power of the movies and movie stars to sell clothes. This is most evident in his collection that mirrored his designs for Valley of the Dolls in the 1960s. Sharon Tate even modeled the collection.
Travilla designed until his death in 1990. He was reluctant to work in the 80's but he realized that the show Dallas needed him, and so he continued to work! He won a Primetime Emmy for his work on that show in 1985.
Even his illustrations are beautiful! What an inspiration and prolific designer William Travilla was. Keep an eye out for his name in classic movie credits!