The creative union between costume designer William Travilla and Marilyn Monroe has left a legacy that is burned on the silver screen, especially when Monroe resembled an actual flame as she turned heads in the pumpkin-hued dress he made for her opposite Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Travilla worked with Monroe on many of her films, including Bus Stop (1956), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955).
Travilla is quoted as saying “My clothes for Marilyn were an act of love, I adored her.” He had to literally sew her into the famously risqué gold lamé gown that also appeared, briefly, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and then, later, at the 1953 Photoplay Awards when Monroe made front-page news wearing the infamous gown without a zipper (a spiteful Joan Crawford was quoted as calling the look “vulgar”). Travilla’s clothes, as we know, were anything but vulgar: they were and are iconic as they fit Monroe like a glove, hugging every curve and ample attribute. Monroe summed up the bond between the two with a handwritten note (on one of her nude calendars) to Travilla, saying: “Billy... Please dress me forever, I love you, Marilyn.”