Not sure if you heard about the astronomical results of the Debbie Reynolds auction, but Marilyn's billowy white dress went for a cool $4.6 million. And I swear that I'm not much of a braggart, but I once had a magical Monroe moment that I just can't resist sharing . . .
Above: Vamping in homage to Norma Desmond, c.1990s, while wearing Marilyn's pink satin Gentlemen Prefer Blondes gown, as designed by Travilla.
In the mid-'90s, when I, along with every other Eva Herzigova-worshipper I knew, was attempting to create a modelling portfolio, I had the amazing opportunity to wear three of Marilyn's most iconic dresses during a photo shoot. My hairdresser at the time, who knew I adored MM, had an uncle that was close friends with William Travilla (Marilyn's most beloved costume designer) and his partner, Bill Sarris. Travilla sadly passed away in 1990, but Sarris wanted to make sure that future generations knew of his important contribution to costume design history, so based on our enthusiastic love for Travilla, he sweetly offered to lend us the frocks.
Several days before the shoot, I went over to meet Travilla's L.A. archivist, Giorgio, in his Downtown L.A. showroom, to try on three dresses . . . Marilyn's hot pink-satin Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend gown, the famous scandalously low-cut gold lamé publicity photo gown, and *the Seven Year Itch dress. So after the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of holding Travilla's Academy Award for Adventures of Don Juan (1949), and making lame fake acceptance speeches, I stepped into the dressing room, and was alone with the ultimate triumvirate of glam. Words cannot ever express how magical it felt to slip the slinky white pleats over my head, onto my body, and spin around to make the skirt twirl-up. So for our little shoot, in keeping with the spirit of the dress, we rented one giant fan, in lieu of a NY subway grate.
*Costume designers sometimes created duplicates of designs, in case one was damaged during filming, but the white dress auctioned by Reynolds was the original.
These shots bring back lovely vintage memories for me . . . of a time when kooky curvy girls could be models (I actually booked a few jobs, most likely thanks to Travilla's pleats), and ones hair could never be too platinum. There are more looks from this magical day stored away in a box somewhere, along with color shots of me in the gold gown, and I promise to post them when they are found.
On another note, sincerest apologies for the lack of posts lately. Sadly, my grandfather, Johnny, passed away, and he was a very important and colorful force in our lives. So we recently drove from NY to DC, then onto Atlanta (where he lived for the third portion of his long and wonderful life), to be with our family. He was a celebrated Lieutenant during WWII, responsible for releasing concentration camp prisoners in Germany, and was given dozens of medals for his bravery, including a Bronze Star. After the war, he worked for the City of New York (a role of which he was hugely proud) and the National Guard, but the thing we all loved about him most, was his ecstatic and vibrant personality . . . constantly armed with a uniquely surreal anecdote or hysterically old fashioned saying. He was also a caring father and awesome grandfather (he taught me how to collage!). Johnny was an unforgettable character in the lives of everyone he met, and we already miss him something awful.
Above, L: Nic & I visiting Grandpa Johnny, at his home in Atlanta for his 90th birthday. It's pretty doubtful that I'll meet anyone as genuinely happy, fulfilled, and entertaining again in this lifetime. R: Lieutenant Hollmen c.1941.