The Marilyn Monroe ivory pleated “Subway” dress by Travilla, the most recognized costume in film history, from The Seven Year Itch.
The Marilyn Monroe Ivory rayon-acetate halter dress with pleated skirt.
Handwritten label “1-27-1-8171 M. Monroe A-734-12.” Worn by Marilyn Monroe as ‘The Girl’ in one of the most iconic images of film history in The Seven Year Itch when she stood above the subway grate and uttered that famous line, “OOOH isn’t it delicious?”
The Seven Year Itch storyline, unlike some of Monroe’s earlier films, held no promise as a costume showcase. It was not a period piece and had no dance routines. Yet this was to become the vehicle for Travilla’s most famous dress design, in bias-cut crepe with a halter top and sunburst pleats.
“So I wondered what could I do with this most beautiful girl that Marilyn was to play to make her look clean, talcum-powdered, and adorable,” Travilla mused. “What would I give her to wear that would blow in the breeze and be fun and pretty? I knew there would be a wind blowing so that would require a skirt.”
The chosen fabric Travilla chose for the Marilyn Monroe dress was an ivory colored rayon-acetate crepe, heavy enough to flow beautifully as Marilyn walked but still light enough to blow up in an interesting way. A fabric very hard if not impossible to get now, the closest is georgette. Travilla never normally used man-made fabric but this posed a challenge with pleating as 100% natural fabric would not hold such stiff pleats, so for all his pleated creations a special fabric had to be made with just a small amount of man-made fiber in it to maintain the structure.
The iconic Marilyn Monroe ivory pleasted subway dress was acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the “pre-sale” when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971. $1,000,000 – $2,000,000
The auction will take place at The Paley Center for Media, 465 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 on June 18th from 12.00pm PDT