Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And the Winner is...Academy Awards 1950

Updated Version

Fashion quotes and tips from the Master

Half the women in this country should throw away their girdles. Unless a woman has a really bad body, there's no excuse for that elastic girdling and feather boning. It gives a staid, stiff unnatural look. It's time for women's bodies to look like women's bodies. Women don't have to be all pinched in and squeezed tight. A woman can be completely covered yet you get an idea of what's going on underneath. - April 1952

If a woman doesn't like what she is wearing, she won't look good no matter how smart or chic the outfit might be. She will feel uneasy and uncomfortable and it will show in her posture. She'll slump and slouch. Women who buy something merely because it is fashionable, even though they don't think much of the style, are making a great mistake. Clothes make the woman but, more importantly, a woman makes the clothes. If a girl is really enthusiastic about a dress, she displays that pride in the way she wears it. her exuberance lends a special quality to the gown She is sold on its beauty and she manages to sell the same idea to all who see her. - May 1953

I make all of my models in size 16. It's too easy to make an attractive size 8. If I can do it in a 16, the 8 will take care of itself." - July 1957

Clothes for the majority are camouflage. Showing up the the better parts of a figure and concealing the little faults almost every woman has. There is no figure that can't wear clothes -- to a point. - February 1958

It's not always that they are temperamental,but many of them wore a style 20 years ago that they insist upon wearing today and it is just not for them -- anymore. I've seen some actresses stand in front of a mirror for three hours just trying different scarves on a dress, to hide a wrinkle in their neck. And then some of them just don't have good taste and this you can't do a thing about. - February 1958

I insist my clothes be feminine and deliberately attractive. A small waist-line should be shown - not hidden. A woman's curves should be tastefully suggested-not flaunted. The ultimate for any designer is to achieve the perfect marriage of design and fabric. - October 1959

Fabric determines the personality of a dress. - September 1960

If the dress is right to begin with, it can be scaled down to fit any figure - March 1961

When you know the big eye of the camera is looking at you, you concentrate on the line first. - March 1961

When I get away from the competitive world of fashion, all my old ideas are washed out of my system. And when I come back, without hardly know it, I star with a new approach. - February 1962

Every woman should take time to look through clothes racks carefully, try on different silhouettes and avoid fashion ruts. Some of the very best dresses in my collections do worst in the store because they don't have hanger appeal. Sometimes I end up not selling my favorite creation. - February 1962

I like to believe that every dress I design encourages the woman who wears it to look her best. The woman of today leads a demanding active life, but she is also very fashionable. There must be a real progress in design, a really fresh approach to please her. - September 1963

I use a dummy, padded at the hip and breast. That way I can produce a collection so varied that there is something in it for almost every woman. If I were working with a live girl, the dress would be for her only. - February 1965

I won't ruin a design to sell a dress. - February 1965

The days of beads and spangles is over. Formality in dress should compliment true femininity with dignity and grace, light fluid lines and classic beauty. - August 1965

A well-dressed, well-groomed woman creates an illusion of perfection because no woman has an absolutely perfect face and figure. But wherever liens are in proportion to the figure and created to enhance it and the character of the gown is in tune with that of the owner's good taste, the whole effect is one of subtle beauty. If a dress doesn't do this for a woman, it can cost thousand and still be worthless to her. - December 1965

Elegance is never static. - March 1966

I like totally opaque stockings worn with short clothes. The shorter the length, the more covered you must be -- to be a lady. I firmly believe that women should be feminine and beautiful -- but always ladies. - September 1967

I quit designing for movies eight years ago because I tired of trying to dress Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell and Betty Grable to reveal as much as possible to make them sexy and exciting--and still pass the censors. Now nobody worries about the censors. - May 1968

I admire Donald Brooks, Galanos is one of the great designers. Donald is groovy...Trigere is magnificent. - September 1968

A woman has to be a person of changeable moods--like a cat. That's why I like cats; they're unpredictable. People say to me: 'Why don't you get a dog?' A dog is in a rut. He always does the same thing when you praise him--wags his tail. - September 1969

Free thought, or uninhibited thought, will do more for moment than all the dress designers in the world. That's why I like what the kids are doing today. They're as changeable and uncertain as cats. If a woman can put on all kinds of affectations and get away with it--all the way emulating Cleopatra to slave girl to Mme. Pompadour, depending on the occasion and what she's trying to get away with--it means she's returning to her own form of purely feminine ways to make herself appealing to men. She's abandoning business competition to the males and this is what we need. You'll see a lot of women happier when they start acting and looking the way men are supposed to act and look...the female of the species, uncertain, unpredictable, never the same, always changing in mood, clothes, attitude. It's a feminine approach that drove me crazy for centuries. - September 1969

Nudity has about run its course. We wear clothes for one reason now--to become more interesting. If you show everything, you've had it. Most women know that so far as men are concerned, secrecy is the thing. With nudity, allure vanishes. There's no need for perfume to heighten the chase. Nudity isn't disgusting, merely tiresome. - September 1969

It's an old rule that mystery, not diamonds, is a girl's best friend. - September 1969

Pretty clothes are what women want and they will pay for well-constructed, beautiful clothes. - November 1970

The body has to be clothed to be really seductive. - November 1970

We designers have opened the world to women to be beautiful in many ways. You can be completely different woman wearing the full print skirt with lace bodice and curly hair one night and the next wear the bias crepe evening gown with slicked-back hair. - March 1971

When I left here in 1971, no one needed chiffon. No one needed to be pretty. Now it's the reverse. L.A is one of the few markets that offers pretty clothes. - January 1976

Paris women in general have dirty hair and their applied color is often inconsistent. Maybe I'm fussy but I like hair that is soft, silky and clean... - June 1978

I get amused by the press and all the references to unconstructed clothes. I think they mean soft clothes. Believe me, those bias-cuts are constructed. There are twelve pattern pieces in the simplest of styles. But I love it because it means we're back to honest-to-God dressmaking. - August 1977

A bias-cut gown with long sleeves and a high neck-line is the sexist style there is. - October 1981

Fashion is so diverse, I'd have no customers if I didn't have my own signature style.There isn't one big fashion statement now. No one can say a woman is wrong to wear minis or mid-calf lengths, square shoulders or puff shoulders, ruffles or no ruffles. - March 1982

Keep it simple. The less you spend on an outfit, the simpler it should be. - March 1982

There's nothing better than seeing a woman with a gorgeous complexion, red lips and a simple black dress. - March 1982

Don't draw it if you can't drape it. There is more to design than producing an exciting beautiful sketch. You must be able to drape it into reality. (advice to fashion students) - May 1983

I get my ideas by going away from my work. - March 1984

Femininity is the biggest weapon a woman can have. - September 1987

Glamour is projection. It has to come from inside. It takes more than just a body. The old time movie stars were coached day and night. They were trained in classes for all kinds of makeup, hair, dancing, elocution, singing....And they were told, 'You are beautiful. When Joan Crawford pulled into the studio with her white Cadillac convertible filled with poodles, you knew that was a star! She was glamorous. Authority. Power. It's a shame there's no inside buildup today. - June 1990

Designing is the same as drawing. It's all lines. - September 1990

My kind of clothes weren't needed. It was a bad scene for women. (referring to 1970s hiatus.) - September 1990

My clothes reflect my love for women. I want women to be pretty. That's how I dressed Marilyn. She was totally covered, not revealed. In all of the films Marilyn has done, she has never been vulgar in clothes. - September 1990

I won't go see them. I don't like to see their fashions. I have no interest. I get my ideas by going away from fashion. (referring other designer's shows) - September 1990

Ladies grab me and ask, 'Do you like what I'm wearing?' I love being with people who take me as I am. - September 1990

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Flying the friendly skies in Travilla

International Travel had began to expand in the late 1950s and early 1960s with the introduction of larger planes with stronger engines. And it was a time when people DRESSED for travel. For many, it was a part of the vacation just as much as the destination. Wide seats. Meals served on china with actual silverware and cloth napkins. For those that so desired, you could smoke afterwards. And not one x-ray machine or surly TSA agent rummaging through your well-packed belongs.

Travilla himself had by now flown over much of the world and knew exactly what the female passenger was looking for - versatility in look with minimal number of pieces.

SAS sketches as published in newspaper article.
In Spring of 1961, Scandinavian Airlines commissioned Travilla to design a complete "Jet-Away" globe traveling ensemble that would fit into one suitcase weighing under 25 pounds and provide everything from a formal evening gown to a reversible coat. The eleven pieces were based on two colors - black and a taupe shade called "cinnamon stick "and three fabrics -  wool jersey, lace and occasional accents of silk. The complete collection was a staggering $3500, or each piece could be purchased separately.

Several of the outfit combinations from the Jet-Away ensemble.
But Travilla's foray into the business-side of aviation travel began as a complete surprise when his former model now fashion director Gina Cord, read in the newspaper that TransWorld Airlines (TWA) was looking for a designer to create the new uniforms for the 1965 season. Travilla only found out when Gina informed him that TWA had set an appointment in his salon to discuss the project. Travilla quickly created a series of sketches showing a variety of Summer and Winter wardrobe in both a wool jersey blue 3/4 length sleeves with a couple of neckline variations with a straight skirt and a 3/4 sleeve jacket with skirt in charcoal/black tweed with blue blouses and berets with black gloves.

The rejected TWA sketches which led to United.
TWA chose French designer Givenchy rather than Travilla, most probably to help promote their International destinations, but Chicago clothing manufacturers Hart, Schaefer and Marx  somehow got a hold of his designs (Gina?) and wanted Travilla to update their 1965 Summer flight attendant uniforms for United Airlines, who was at the time, the largest airline in the United States.

Since their introduction in 1930, United's stewardess uniforms had been fashionable to the times, but retained a military or business-like influence that by the mid-1960s, needed a rejuvenation of youthfulness which Travilla was able to provide according to the November 1964 edition of United's in-flight magazine "The Shield" - "Fashion will fly high next summer as UA Stewardesses go aloft in a brand new outfit. Frankly feminine & at the same time practical, it was designed especially for them by Travilla, nationally recognized California stylist." The new ensemble was previewed in L.A. on Nov. 20, during California Fashion Creators Press Week. Worn by a Travilla model, it received an enthusiastic reception from fashion editors & others attending the showing.

The final uniform was a combination of the top sketch's jacket (sans lace) with lower sketch's skirt. But lace?
Both were made from a Dacron polyester/worsted wool mohair material in "Blue Frost." The jacket has a softly rolled V-neck collar, in a lightly fitted, boxy style that falls a little below the waist, 3/4 length sleeves with detachable, white drop cuff trims that snapped in place. The skirt was smartly flared with 2 pleats in the front & 2 in back, a back zipper with a button closure at the top of the zipper.  Underneath the jacket is a white crepe Dacron blouse with short sleeves & an "avril" round neck with an untied ascot drape. The outfit is topped by a perky "sugar scoop" style hat with an optional white sheer scarf for windy days.

1965 Uniform. But LOOK at that interior space per person.
Former attendant and now Museum Guide Eleanor Ginsberg remembered "I wore this uniform when I first started flying for UA in the summer of 1965 out of the JFK base. It was often called “the cheerleader skirt uniform” since the skirt “flared” as we walked. It was “fun” to wear the uniform & we often received compliments from passengers. The color was most attractive & the style was quite different from past UA uniforms & from most other airlines’ uniform styles, as well."
A gaggle of grads wearing Travilla.
Another we'll leave at just Pamela described it in an email to me as "My most favorite out of the five I had in my eight-year career. The material was wonderful and we always looked fresh! 
 Summer 1965-67 United Airlines Blue Frost uniform.
My personal uniformed, pieced together from three sources.

For airline number two, and Frontier Airlines 1967 revamp, Travilla decided on richer tones of blues and golds to represent the beautiful skies surrounding Denver Colorado where Frontier was based.

Travilla's sketches for Frontier's new look.
A white rolled-collar blouse of Dacron whipped cream material with three quarter length sleeves under A-line jumper pants. Loosely fitted jacket with military-type stand up collar fits under blouse collar giving a hint of astronaut influence. Turquoise jacket accented with gold. Accessories include gold patent boots, gold purse and a vivid gold, lavender, turquoise and green printed silk scarf. Topped with a little boy-type billed hat of turquoise. For inclement weather, a turquoise double breasted top coat with gold lapels and tie belt. For in-flight service, gold flats with A-line striped smock of blues, golds, and greens.

Promotional photo of uniforms and on actual flight attendants.
I am still trying to locate an example of uniforms of any kind from this era. I'd be happy with just better quality photos. If any former Frontier Airline stewardess or flight attendants or you know of one, please have them contact me through this blog!

With both Southern California and Southern Florida sharing the same weather, beaches and palm trees, it only made sense that airline number three, Miami-based National Airlines chose the California designer to update their image to go along with the growing trend of young travelers to the Sunshine State. Gone were the old red and blue colors of their parent's generation, replaced by the bright tropical colors of orange, yellow and lime - both in the decor of the plane and the attendant's uniforms.

Uniform combined bottom of first and top of second sketch. Final coat color white.
Travilla submitted several variations from shifts to culottes with a variety of blouses and necklines, however, the final decision was not his, and the choice was reminiscent of his earlier United uniforms with the cheerleader style skirt, but in a dress style. Or as the airline so eloquently described it when it debuted as the finale of a fashion show in front of over 250 guests and press.

Modeled by actual flight attendants.
"A basic short-sleeved skimmer made from Dacron and wool, topped with a stand-up collar and double pleated skirt falling just above the knee. Accented with a silk chiffon scarf for either wind protection or neck wear. A matching outer coat was bone colored worsted wool. Double-breasted with a bib yoke and large brass buttons. Gentle A-shape, flaring at the hem. Accessories include bone-colored travel tote and pumps." An over sized visor with sweeping amber-tinted curved lens helped to promote the "Sun" theme the airline was now marketing itself as."
Lime. Looks much better on a mannequin.
The dreaded visor and uniforms in lemon and lime.
While some attendants didn't mind the outfits and their colors, others felt that they looked like tropical fruits as they wandered the streets of London after National inaugurated service in 1970. And many hated the fact that the visor would not remain in place due to certain hairstyles. 


But of all the airlines, Ohio Arts choose National and Travilla's designs to appear on their lunchboxes. One in mint condition can be worth upwards of two hundred dollars. Mine has a few scratches so through the magic of Photoshop I made it look almost new.

Yves St. Laurent's designs were chosen by National over Travilla's in 1972 and most of the stewardesses strongly disliked the chocolate brown coat with black tiger stripes with matching hat, often referring to it as their "hooker coat."

Seriously? Tiger print to represent the "Sunshine State?"
With airlines now going with more European designers to compliment their International travel, and sick of the way women were "dressing in denim and any old thing." California-born Travilla decided it might be time to take a break from the industry and he soon moved to the tiny village of Malegna just off the coast of Spain for almost five years.

Wonder if he flew?

Pieces from my collection -

Over the course of doing my online research, I would always find examples of Travilla's designs for sale on ebay, esty, or vintage clothing sites.  I really did try to resist the temptation, I couldn't, so I'd like to share a few pieces from my personal collection gathered over the past few years. I love Travilla's designs from the 1950s and 1960s, the majority of my collection, but some later pieces have slipped in for some reason or another.


A late 1950s evening dress of peach/salmon silk skirt. Black floral lace overlay with scalloped hem. Black velvet sleeveless butterfly front top.



Late 1960s black party dress. Black silk collar and lapel. Pleated skirt with "screen-door-mesh" see-through top and sleeves. Black belt with large bow on front 




Though many film designers such as Adrian had private labels or small shops in Hollywood, it was Travilla who mastered the art of promoting his label through the medium of film and television. To promote1964's "Signpost to Murder" starring Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman,  for a series of promotional "Murder in Fashion" charity events, MGM shipped Woodward's wardrobe to Alexandria Virginia where it was seen by two thousand social, style and civic leaders during a showing of Travilla's latest collection. These two garments are examples from that collection.The first is a jade green day dress in a knit material with translucent decoletage and pleats at the sleeves and waistline. Second is an evening jacket with lace overlay. Wide lapel collar and large pearlized buttons.



Travilla's partner William "Bill" Sarris, was also a designer aside from the business end, having graduated from Woodbury as well. This is one of two pieces I've managed to find from his label. Circa 1965 it looks like it could be worn by a very fashion forward nun.



1965 evening gown of yellow crepe with cascading rows of fabric. Love the flowing cape-let. Newspaper photo located during online research. Need to locate a vintage belt as the original is missing.




With the skirt of the dress matching the gown above, I'm guessing 1964/5 for this two-piece ensemble ofcoffee  tweed fabric with decorative bows on the jacket collar and hem and dress.



1965 Nubby 2-piece suit with floral pattern. Pink blouse with tie-scarf. Unfortunately, I don't have the hat or gloves to go with it. Yet.



Late 1960s rose colored evening gown with overlay sheath of net with rhinestones. Similar in style but reversed with the stones on the overlay instead of gown to the one in a sketch for singer Connie Francis and her Las Vegas stage show.



1968 White dress with lace overlay and small pink flowers attached. I found the dress through a high-end online store, so I'm not sure it's the same one featured in the photographs from the Archives. But this is the retail version similar to one worn by actress Diahann Carroll on a variety special. The lower photo is of the gown in Travilla's Fall 1968 fashion show for the press, held on the "Hello Dolly" set at Fox Studios and hosted by Miss Carroll.



This is my favorite piece in the collection. It epitomizes the 1960s for me. Ladies day coat with a  bold geometric design in bright yellow, blue and white. Constructed from raw linen with hand sewn stitching. The most amazing thing is that all of the mitered corners of the striped design match up perfectly. Lined in solid yellow raw silk. Fabric covered buttons.


I literally freaked when I found the photo and then youtube footage of Carroll wearing this coat on an episode of Julia. Unfortunately there are at least two as a photo later located shows a small triangle of white on the right shoulder mine doesn't have (red circle). Sketch found in the archives shortly thereafter.



Heavy silk gown with empire waistline probably 1968/69. Heavy orange and gold beading on bodice, and upper sleeves. Purchased on ebay from a museum that was cleaning out it's collection. Later found the photo of actress Julie Sommars wearing it in the Archives. It's one of several versions of a dress designed for Diahann Carroll worn both on "Julia" and a Perry Como Christmas Special.


Mariyn-inspired 1970s gown worn by Gladys Knight on the cover of her "Midnight Train to Georgia" alcum cover. Purchased at auction from Knight Estate.



Late 1970s coral pink sheath. A perfect example of the "California Couture" Travilla was known for. Hankerchief hem sleeves with open shoulder ties.



1970s hostess party gown. At the price offered, even though I'm not fond of it, I couldn't not give it a home. I felt better when I later found the sketch.

MORE TO COME...