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Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla Hardcover – April 1, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

It's difficult to find a new way to examine an iconic figure, especially one as popular as Marilyn Monroe, but Dressing Marilyn by Andrew Hansford manages to do precisely that. In cataloging the costumes created for Monroe by designer William Travilla, Dressing Marilyn brings together rare photographs, sketches, and interviews in a book that will be of interest not only to tried-and-true fans, but to fashion aficionados as well. Monroe's iconic clothing is such that just reading Hansford s table of contents which includes the chapters The Red Dress, The Gold Dress, The Pink Dress, and The White Dress is enough to conjure the garments to which he's referring; images immediately pop to mind. The narrative is two-fold: there's the story of Marilyn's clothes and the story of her relationship with Travilla, the man who made them. It's a fascinating new angle on Monroe, who has always been more famous for the body her clothes were (barely) covering than for her fashion sense. Despite their iconicity, her clothes haven't been associated with a particular designer, a circumstance that comes in great contrast to many of the stars of the time. Audrey Hepburn and Hubert Givenchy, Grace Kelly and Edith Head, and even Jacqueline Kennedy and Oleg Cassini all famously had long-term collaborations. Dressing Marilyn goes a long way toward filling that gap in Monroe's history detailing the friendship that arose between William Travilla and Monroe during the decade that he dressed her. Perhaps the most fascinating element of Dressing Marilyn is the attention to the details of the clothes themselves, thus the need for entire chapters on single dresses. The chapter on the The Pink Dress from Gentleman Prefer Blondes, for instance, includes images of a fabric swatch, an early sketch featuring black gloves, a later sketch with the pink gloves that were ultimately used, and most uniquely close-ups on the details of the dress itself, including the bow, the belt, and the back closure. An entire half-page is dedicated to a photograph illustrating the invisible wire that held the enormous bow in place. It's this attention to detail that sets Dressing Marilyn apart from the scores of photography books about her and makes it a must read, especially for the style savvy. --ForeWord Magazine

About the Author

Andrew Hansford manages Travilla's archive and was responsible for the 2008 Travilla exhibition. He has lectured to fashion students on Travilla and his work.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Applause (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557838461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557838469
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book wanting to know more about William Travilla,Marilyn's costume designer for many of her films and was not disapointed. First, this is not a large coffee table book, but it is a nice size that easily fits in your hands. The design of the book is beautiful,with great full-lenth photo's of Marilyn in each costume as "test" shots for the studio. There are close-up photo's of the costumes. And Travilla's sketches of the costumes. Yes,there are some typos and some errors but it doesn't detract from the general appeal of this book. It is wonderful to see these photo's and the costumes close up . I kept going back to the book just to leaf through the photo's and the details of the costumes. Also there are sketches that Travilla did for Marilyn some time before her death,which never got to be actualised, are for the movie "The Stripper" which was made with Joanne Woodward,after Marilyn's death. You can look at these drawings and wonder "How would she have looked in these costumes?" She transformed everything she wore,and Travilla knew her body better then any designer. This book is a very good introduction to William Travilla and his work ,I just wish there were more photo's and more information and details. Overall a very good book for the price $19.95?! I say buy it ,its good fashion history and Marilyn info.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There have been so many books on Marilyn, that it would take an interesting angle to get me to buy one now. This book met that criteria when I read its description. Unfortunately, the execution is somewhat flawed. As pointed out, there are a number of grammatical and factual errors that will immediately put the reader who is knowledgeable about Marilyn and movies on the wary side. The author mentions visiting the offices of David O Selznick and how they were used as Tara, the house in "Gone With the Wind." The offices were only seen in the opening credits, and were definitely not used as Tara. In talking about designing for TV miniseries in the 80's, Donna Mills, Linda Gray, and Sharon Tate are all lumped together. Tate had been murdered back in the 60's by the Manson gang.

Although the book is mainly about Travilla's working relationship with Marilyn, there are also mentions of other stars like Loretta Young and Errol Flynn. It would have been great to see photos of Travilla's designs for them (especially the Oscar winning ones for Flynn's "Adventures of Don Juan"). Instead, we are given five pages of an interview of author Andrew Hansford, which sadly puts this book on the level of a self-serving fan, especially in light of its sloppy editing. I doubt that many readers bought the book to learn about Hansford, but they probably would have rather had 5 more pages about Travilla and/or Marilyn. The best part of the book is when it gets into the individual outfits that Travilla designed for Marilyn. They are thoroughly explained as to their construction and the reader learns that Travilla was a master of architecture and showing off the female form to its best advantage.
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By dita garden on December 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must have for anyone who wants to be a designer. I see that some have complain about spelling and writing, but its more for the pictures and the details that went into making these gorgeous outfits.... Its all in the sketches, "PERFECTION!'
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Format: Hardcover
A fascinating book. Great to read about an aspect of Marilyn's life and friendships in real depth - not just another glossy overview. Another different angle on Marilyn when everyone thought all had been covered. I found it an interesting read and discovered no typos or errors in grammar - maybe previous reviewers are not used to reading UK english? I loved the way the book was written in such a personal way - who needs yet another dry pseudo historical analysis?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A gem among the many books about Marilyn Monroe with emphasis on the many gowns/outfits desiigned for her by William Travilla. I gave this book to a friend who has just about every book on Marilyn in her library and she loved it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i love this book! i checked it out from our local library, prior to ordering it, and it is fascinating. It goes into detail about several of Marilyn's iconic outfits, and the designer. beautiful pictures, and very enjoyable!
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