Thursday, March 22, 2012

William Travilla, 1920-1990

Today marks the birth anniversary of costume designer William Travilla. I briefly mentioned him in December 2009 in a post on people who only went by one name in the credits. William Travilla, you see, was often credited solely under his surname of Travilla. The most productive part of his movie career was at 20th Century-Fox in the 1950s, where he worked on close to five dozen movies. The most notable of these would be the ones starring Marilyn Monroe, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch. On some movies, the female star has dresses designed by one famous designer, while the general wardrobe duties are handled by somebody else; a good example of this would be Audrey Hepburn's wearing clothes by (Hubert de) Givenchy. In a movie like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Givenchy was credited for her wardrobe; a second person (Pauline Trigere) received credit for Patricia Neal's wardrobe; and a third (Edith Head) received credit as "costume supervisor". Travilla, hoewver actually did create all those gowns and dress that you see Monroe wearing in her movies, having been a good friend of Monroe at the time.

For reasons I don't quite understand (I'd guess it has something to do with wanting to be a brand name), the use of a one-word name (or more accurately not using both a given name and a surname) seems to be much more common among costume designers than any other part of the moviemaking business. In addition to Travilla, there are such famous designers as Adrian, Orry-Kelly, Jean-Louis, and Irene. Don't ask me their full names; I'd have to look them up.

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