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The man behind Marilyn and some of America’s most iconic outfits

Dressing Marilyn, the book out now on Goodman, offers a unique insight into the golden age of Hollywood, and the man who was dressing its golden girl: William Travilla. Given that the movie My Week With Marilyn is coming out in a few short weeks, naturally, the world is re-upping on their Marilyn savvy, and deeply discussing the layers of beauty and sadness that comprised the American girl. But let’s talk top layer.

As the lore goes, William and Marilyn met in 1952 at Fox studios. Marilyn had just stepped out of a change room and. oops, one of her straps broke to reveal her breast. A designer-muse lifelong engagement was born.  A handwritten note from Monroe requests: “Billy… Please dress me forever, I love you, Marilyn.”

His designs are burned into our collective pop culture memory. The pink gown that she wore in Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, that solidified her as America’s Technicolor dream girl. Then there was the often imitated golden lamé floor length dress, despite that it only spent several minutes on screen. He was also behind the white halter dress Marilyn wore of a subway grate in The Seven Year Itch, that dress recently auctioned for a measly $5.6 million.

Through Travilla’s original sketches, costume ideas, test shots, dress patterns, and personal photography of Mrs. M., her enigmatic life gets even more magical.

See more of Marilyn and William below.

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