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Gentleman Prefer Blondes
Costume seen on Marilyn Monroe as Lorelai Lee
Fox Studios promotional shot of Mitzi Gaynor

Promo Shot of Mitzi Gaynor

Costume test for Marilyn Monroe, alongside William Travilla

Costume test for Marilyn Monroe, alongside William Travilla

This particular dress, complete with matching jacket was first designed by the famous costume designer William Travilla for Marilyn Monroe in the in the 1953 film Gentleman Prefer Blondes, in which Marilyn played a character by the name of Lorelai Lee.

Travilla designed extensively for Monroe, dressing her in all but one of her films. Marilyn is even said to have once written to him “Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you, Marilyn.” The two costume tests (left) of Marilyn in the dress show Travilla standing along side her.

The gown is described as being "Aubergine steel gray couched in meandering-pattern braid and accented by two aubergine satin trains flowing from the waist."

The dress was used again on Mitzi Gaynor, who was also under contract at Fox Studios at around the same time as Monroe. The Studio would often reused costumes for publicity photos that were not necessarily tied to any particular film.  Two different shots show Gaynor wearing Marilyn’s dress, though the jacket is absent. A close up shot of Gaynor shows the detailing on the gown. Note that the full shot of Gaynor wearing the dress appears to have been reversed by the studio, as the sash across the chest is going the incorrect way.

This costume was eventually purchased by Debbie Reynolds, and recently went up for auction on December 3rd, 2011 by Profiles in History. The dress and jacket wound up selling for $260,000



Costume Credit
Katie S.
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RecycledMovieCostumes copyright 2011, website by Katie Bugg Designs.