• Julien's Live Bidder Login

Marilyn Monroe and William Travilla

For immediate release:


Marilyn Monroe's Most Famous Designer is Highlighted in Extraordinary Collection

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” Inspired Gown

Beverly Hills, California….August 6th, 2013....No one knew legendary screen goddess Marilyn Monroe like costume designer William Travilla. The famous 36-26-36 hourglass silhouette of the bombshell would help secure Travilla’s place in Hollywood history as one of the most important fashion designers of its time. 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. Julien’s Auctions, the premier entertainment and celebrity memorabilia auction house, proudly announces this rare opportunity to own one of Travilla’s masterpieces of fashion in the upcoming “Property from the Estate of William Travilla” auction to take place Friday, November 8th, 2013 at the Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills gallery at 9665 Wilshire Boulevard. The Hollywood icon 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.”

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” Inspired Gown

Born on Catalina Island, just off the California coast, Travilla had a passion for art at a very early age. He attended the prestigious Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles where he was advanced to adult classes at the age of 8! As a teenager the burlesque clubs he passed on the way to school began to pique his interest and he sketched costumes for the dancers and sold them.

He later went to Hollywood after avoiding the draft and started selling his sketches at Don the Beachcomber where a special young woman began collecting his work, actress Ann Sheridan. They developed a friendship and she eventually brought him to Warner Studios. Travilla went on to transition from Warner to Fox Studios where he met the young Monroe who would later do something for his gowns that no other woman could do. William Travilla was known professionally as simply Travilla.

Marilyn Monroe and William Travilla

Through his close friendship with Marilyn Monroe, he created her costumes for Don’t Bother to Knock and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He also created one of the most famous 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.

“Seven Year Itch” Travilla Sketch

This is the first time his collection, which was bequeathed to his partner when he passed in 1990, will be available for auction. His original sketches which have been the focus of numerous press features as well as the gowns he made for Monroe early on and later would become the original ideas for her most famous scenes. Also included are his personal effects, sewing room artifacts, Oscar patterns and original watercolor renderings. Collectors wishing to expand their portfolio of true iconic Hollywood fashions will have this very rare opportunity to own a piece of Marilyn Monroe fashion history at this auction.

Some of the Marilyn Monroe highlights of the “Property from the Estate of William Travilla” auction 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 (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000), a Marilyn Monroe “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” inspired gown by Travilla featuring the gold lame sunburst halter gown design (Estimate: $10,000-$20,000), a “Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes” Travilla sketch (Estimate: $400-$600), Travilla’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business” Academy Award plaque ($3,000-$5,000), a 1953 Travilla “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” costume sketch (Estimate: $6,000-$8,000), and a Marilyn Monroe “Seven Year Itch” inspired Travilla gown (Estimate: $20,000-$30,000) along with several other pieces.

Travilla Emmy for Dallas

Other highlights from Travilla’s personal collection will include a brown chocolate Betty Grable dress worn in “How to Marry a Millionaire,” (Estimate: $2000-$3000), a black satin Linda Gray “Dallas” Travilla Gown 1980s (Estimate: $400-$600) and Travilla’s Emmy Award for “Dallas” (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

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. 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 so thrilled to be able to offer this very rare fashion collection from the Estate of William Travilla and look forward to having the fans and collectors visit our gallery ahead of time to view our public exhibition.”

Prior to the auction the collection will also exhibit exclusively at Newbridge Silverware’s Museum of Style Icons (MOSI) in Ireland as well as Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills.

Betty Grable “How to Marry A Millionaire Dress”


Julien's Auctions Beverly Hills
Monday, November 4th – Friday, November 8th, 2013
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Daily (Closed Sundays)

Icons & Idols: Fashion

Friday, November 8th, 2013
Session I: 10:00 a.m. P.S.T.
Session II:  2:00 p.m. P.S.T.

Icons & Idols: Hollywood
Saturday, November 9th, 2013
Session I: 10:00 a.m. P.S.T.
Session II:  2:00 p.m. P.S.T.

Sunday, November 10th, 2013
Session III: 10:00 a.m. P.S.T.
Session IV:   2:00 p.m. P.S.T.

Julien's Auctions Beverly Hills
9665 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 150
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Registering to Bid
Registration is required to bid in this live auction and can be done in person at the exhibition and auction, or online before the sale at the JuliensAuctions.com Registration page to bid by phone, proxy or in person, or online at JuliensLive.com to bid live online, or by calling (310) 836-1818.

Placing Bids
There are four ways to bid in this sale:

  1. Bid through Julien's Auctions Online Live in Real Time at JuliensLive.com.
  2. Place bids in the room by attending the auction.
  3. Bid over the telephone through an auction house representative, who sits in the room and conveys the bid to the auctioneer.
  4. Enter Absentee bids. Absentee bid forms are printed in the back of each catalog, and are also available by calling Julien's Auctions at (310) 836-1818 or online at our Register to Bid page.

About Julien's Auctions
With expertise specializing in entertainment memorabilia, Julien’s Auctions has quickly established itself as the premier auction house in high profile celebrity and entertainment auctions. Julien’s Auctions presents exciting, professionally managed and extremely successful auctions with full color high quality auction catalogs unlike any other auction company. Previous auctions include the collections of Cher, U2, Barbra Streisand, the estate of Marilyn Monroe and many more. Official website is www.juliensauctions.com.

Media Contact:
For auction highlight photographs at 300 dpi (and above) or the auction catalog cover artwork, please email requests to: info@juliensauctions.com.


Mail and Pickup Only
Julien's Auctions | 8630 Hayden Place, Culver City, California 90232 | Phone: 310-836-1818 | Fax: 310-742-0155
© 2003- Julien's Auctions. All Rights Reserved. DianeV Web Design Studio