Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla (by Andrew Hansford, published by Goodman, £20, available in all good book shops and online) offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at some of Monroe’s most famous film costumes and the Hollywood costumier who created them.

William Travilla mainly worked at Twentieth Century-Fox which is where he first met Marilyn. By 1952 he was close friends with her and created the costumes for Don’t Bother to Knock and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He went on to design the costumes for a total of eight of Marilyn’s films.

“My clothes for Marilyn were an act of love, I adored her,” he said and created dresses and gowns that flattered her hourglass figure and would help cement her status as a screen goddess. In return, Monroe once wrote to Travilla, “Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you, Marilyn.”

Travilla created one of the most famous costumes in all of film – the pleated ivory cocktail dress Marilyn wore in the 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch, which she wears while standing on a New York subway ventilation grate, the dress raising up around her as a train passes below ground.  The iconic dress, which arguably contributed to the collapse of Marilyn’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio and which was later purchased by actress Debbie Reynolds, was sold for $4,600,000(USD) during a 2011 auction.

We also have to thank Travilla for the pink floor-length strapless dress that adorned Marilyn’s curves in Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend and the gold halter-neck gown in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The book delves into the inspiration and the stories behind each and every piece of clothing with plenty of original sketches, rare costume test shots, dress patterns, photographs of Marilyn wearing the dresses, plus exclusive and never before- seen extracts from interviews with Travilla.

It’s  fascinating to see not only the history behind each gown and how these now iconic costumes were created, altered and eventually appeared on screen but also Monroe’s style evolution expressed through her film costumes. Most of all though the book details a wonderful and deep friendship between two people brought together by their unique talents. A wonderful read, not just for Monroe fans.

We’re now giving away five copies of Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla. Simply follow us @queensofvintage and @carltonbookspr on Twitter and tweet us your favourite Monroe film using #dressingmm as a hashtag. The fiver winners will be picked at random at midday on Thursday, 2 February 2012. There is no cash alternative. Good luck!

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