William Travilla

Often fashion icons reach such a pinnacle of success, such heights of importance, that their name embodies a certain mystique or outfit that becomes synonymous with their vision of dress. Such an icon is William Travilla, otherwise known to fans and posterity simple as Travilla.

A man with inauspicious beginnings, William Travilla grew up in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of cinema, being born in 1920. Being raised in such a climate undoubtedly influenced the young man to the point that he entered the freshly painted world of Hollywood at the ripe age of twenty-two.

His early work was done on uninspired B-list films that flew under the radar. Regardless of his rough start, William Travilla eventually worked his way up to stardom by designing the costumes for the Errol Flynn classic, Adventures of Don Juan. This swashbuckling romp earned Travilla an Oscar for his outstanding attention to detail and flourish.

With the highest accolade Hollywood could present to him handed over at the shockingly young age of twenty-nine, Travilla continued forward with his career by designing costumes for classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Viva Zapata.

However, the height of Travilla’s career, already an illustrious one, had yet to be achieved until he met starlet Marilyn Monroe. The two struck up a friendship in 1952 after he designed Monroe’s costumes for Don’t Bother to Knock and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Travilla began to design outfits for the up and comer that would resonate with popular culture for decades.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is the iconic Marilyn Monroe outfit from The Seven Year Itch. This gorgeous item featured Monroe at her most audacious. Wearing a simple white cocktail dress, Monroe astounded audience, and her co-star, by standing above a subway grate and allowing the rushing air to lift up her dress. Such an image is ingrained in popular culture and perceptions of Monroe usually pivot on that one utterly unforgettable scene.

Moving forward, Travilla continued to work, designing costumes for a number of films and transitioning into television, winning accolades for his work on the television special The Scarlett O’Hara War” and the television show Dallas.
Although Travilla passed in 1990, he lived a wondrous life filled with moments that have earned him a spot as one of the greatest costume designers of all time.

80s Themed Party

Remember the good old days of bold color, big dreams and even bigger hair? The ’80s are back, and theme parties that invoke this rad era are all the rage; so why not throw your own?  Read on for tips on how you can host your own simple yet totally awesome ’80s party!

It doesn’t matter where you throw your ’80s party, but how you throw it. The operative word here is loud, people!  First, loud colors: make sure you have crepe paper streamers, party supplies and napkins in every shade of neon from shocking pink to tennis ball yellow.  For more lighthearted decorating inspiration, pick up some cheesy old posters of ’80s TV and movie stars. Think Tom Cruise, Heather Locklear, any of the Coreys. Lace paper doilies on top of neon tablecloths can give your buffet table that layered look that’s somehow trashy and endearing at the same time. Throw in a couple of Rubik’s cube centerpieces and black-and-white checkered napkins, and you’re in business. Turn the lights down low, prom-in-the-high-school-gym style. If your budget allows, spring for some neon lighting, lava lamps, or other colored lights – even if you’re just dancin’ in the dark.

OK, so you’ve got the décor down for the venue. What about for the people? Inspire your guests to go as far out as they can with their costumes, hair and makeup.  The best way to do this is to set the tone with a snazzy invitation that features some real ’80s photos of yourself and some of the invitees, the more embarrassing the better. Flesh it out with photos of movie stars and singers in all their teased-haired, Aqua-Netted glory. And when it comes to your own hair and makeup, don’t hold back on your ’80s costumes and accessories. Think bold neons, stretch lace tights, slashed sweatshirts a la Flashdance, smudged eyeliner, and superstars.  C’mon, get into the groove! Head out to your local thrift store and pick up some spare neon clothes to have on hand for guests who feel underdressed. Grab a few pairs of cheap novelty sunglasses and lay them out for guests to pick up and sport at random. The zanier your thrift-store finds, the better, because everyone has more fun and feels more comfortable when they all look equally ridiculous.

Good music can make all the difference in setting the vibe for your totally rad ’80s theme party, so crank it up! Music from the ’80s varied widely, from hair bands to new wave to pop and everything in between.  Some of the more dance floor-friendly ’80s artists include The Cure, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Madonna, Tina Turner, Wham! and Boy George. Mixing genres of ’80s music throughout the night is fine and even adds to the fun, but you may want to prepare several playlists in advance so you don’t end up with back-to-back Debbie Gibson and Guns N’ Roses. When in doubt, and if you have the cash, hire a professional DJ to sort it out for you. Put some classic ’80s MTV videos on in the background, without the sound so as not to interfere with your dance-floor music. And speaking of moving to the groove, there’s nothing like a game of Twister to bring your guests closer to one another. Once they’re all warmed up and intertwined on the floor, have a dance-off to the funkiest 80’s-pop you can find. Everyone can clap for their favorite dancers.  Make sure you have some cheesy awards on hand. How about some vintage trophies from the bygone times of Little League and spelling bees? Get creative with it. And if all of this sounds overwhelming, chill out! Remember, girls just wanna have fun.

The Big Apple Circus and What Makes it So Special

It’s a little bit Ringling Bros, a little bit Cirque du Soleil and a little bit ghetto – but it’s all heart. The magical appeal of the Big Apple Circus is undeniable and it is infectious. Performing in the style of a European one-ring circus, the act revolves primarily around human performers, rather than the elephants, bears or lions that you might expect. It becomes apparent immediately that this is a return to a simpler and far more intimate circus performance than the gaudy and over-produced big top shows we remember.

The Big Apple Circus has been performing their unique interpretation of this traditional form of entertainment for more than 30 years. It all started with two friends who decided to juggle and entertain their way across Europe in the 1970’s. Paul Binder and Michael Christensen had formed a friendship as street performers in the San Francisco Mime Troupe and decided to take their two-man show on the road – to France. Living off of what they earned by juggling some pretty strange and different objects, the two were successful in earning their travelling money.

Their break came when they were noticed and asked to perform on a French television show. From that performance, they were offered a chance to join the inaugural tour of the Nouveau Cirque de Paris – and jumped at the opportunity. Both, it seemed, had always wanted to join the circus. Coming from very different backgrounds and opposite ends of the country, Binder and Christensen nonetheless discovered a bond that would lead them to found their own circus back in the United States.

On returning to the US, they began to develop their plan for a European style one-ring circus, centered in New York City. They formed a non-profit organization and began raising capital through donations, gifts and grants. In July of 1977, the Big Apple Circus gave its first performance in Battery Park, at the lower end of Manhattan. That first season, more than 45,000 people saw the performances and the little circus was considered a big success!

Although the themes that the Big Apple Circus chooses to perform vary from season to season, the style of the show has remained true to its roots. When watching a performance of this magical troupe of entertainers, you can expect to see clowns and contortionists, trapeze artists and jugglers, horse trainers and acrobats, and so much more. A classical circus feel, with the intimacy of being mere feet away from the performances, this is a show like no other.

Since its founding, the Big Apple Circus has entertained millions, and left smiles on the faces of all of them. But the founders had still another intention when they created this special organization – to benefit those in need. Through outreach programs, special events and foundation grants, they are dedicated to giving back to the communities in which they perform. Big Apple Circus does shows at children’s centers and hospitals, schools, community centers and in under-served areas where circus performances are not the norm. Its founders are still very active in the operation and performances of the circus and are still devoted to bringing joy to the faces and hearts of all who watch their shows. Bring on the clowns!

Book Report Costumes

School Report Costumes – Dress Like a Famous Character from History

Ah, the joy and light-hearted fun of giving your school class report. I’m sure we all remember just how excited we were to stand up in front of the class and deliver that well-crafted and researched history lesson to all of our peers. The rapt attention and supportive looks of our classmates gave us the confidence to…. Ok, we’re not kidding anyone. Class reports can be a nerve-wracking experience at best; and socially stigmatizing at worst. But they don’t have to be!

How much more fun would it be to deliver that history lesson dressed in the costume of your famous subject? Abe Lincoln and George Washington can be brought to life and deliver their stories in person. And what 5th grader can resist an opportunity to dress up when it isn’t even Halloween? Yep, there’s something magical about taking on the role of a famous person from history and delivering your class report in their words. Here are some favorite historical figures and how you can make them come to life.

Benjamin Franklin is one of the best known and most widely loved figures in early American history. As prolific an inventor as Ben Franklin was, he actually only had one year of formal schooling before becoming an apprentice printer. He learned quickly and went on to publish many of his writings, including Poor Richard’s Almanac. Some of his famous quotes are: “A penny saved is a penny earned” and, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

George Washington, our country’s first president is another favorite American in history. Famously known for his admission to chopping down a cherry tree, “I cannot tell a lie”, this event never actually took place. What is true however, is Washington’s commitment to fairness, justice and liberty for his countrymen. He was of course, our first president – and the only one ever elected unanimously.

Betsy Ross is best known as the woman who sewed the first American flag, when our country declared independence from England in 1776. While this story about Betsy Ross is probably not entirely true, she was a flag maker, a patriot and very involved in supporting the American Revolution. Born in 1752, she was a fourth-generation American – her great-grandfather having arrived in America in 1681.

Abraham Lincoln was the president during our country’s civil war. Lincoln is well-known for writing the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery, and also the Gettysburg Address. He was the 16th president and is still the tallest, at 6 feet 4 inches. He never attended college or university, but was very well-read and considered an intellectual. Among his many quotes is, “Whatever you choose to be, be a good one”.

There are many historical figures to choose when giving your school report, and all of them can be made more fun by dressing up as the famous person. Try to find quotes and speeches that are less well-known, to give your classmates a new and interesting look at the character you’ve chosen. Most of all have fun with your subject, and don’t be afraid to take on the voice and style of your character from the history books. You might even find something you have in common with them!