Designing Valley of the Dolls

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann, Mark Robson’s 1967 melodrama Valley of the Dolls offers a campy look at the glamour and excess of sixties showbiz. Among its many enduring pleasures is the sensational clothing worn by its stars, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, and Barbara Parkins, playing a trio of friends who navigate the pressures of a debauched entertainment industry while draped in luxurious fabrics and mink stoles. Thanks to costume designs by Travilla, who remains best known for Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white dress in The Seven Year Itch, the Valley wardrobes serve not just as displays of the era’s fashion trends, but also as visual symbols that distinguish each protagonist’s personality and attitude.

For a program on our edition of the film, out next week on Blu-ray and DVD (along with its notorious nonsequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), writer Amy Fine Collins discusses the importance of Travilla’s costumes and how they reflect the pop culture of the time. In the clip below, Collins takes a closer look at the modern touch that defines Sharon Tate’s style in the film.

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