Travis Banton (1894-1958) American
Travis Banton worked briefly in New York before arriving in Hollywood in 1924. Once in the city, he made his name by designing the wedding gown that actress Mary Pickford wore to marry Douglas Fairbanks. He was promoted to head designer in 1927 after working as an assistant designer to Paramount head designer Howard Greer. During his time at Paramount he designed for more than 160 movies. While there, he created the costumes for the difficult Claudette Colbert in the 1934 version of Cleopatra, devising ways to hide her perceived figure flaws of a thick waist and a short neck.
In 1956, he designed eighteen costumes for the lead actress (both Constance Bennett and Rosalind Russell played the title role) in the stage production of Auntie Mame. Fellow designer Orry-Kelly would costume the fabulous 1958 film version. Banton also designed clothes for Dinah Shore’s personal and television appearances.
Remembered for the “Paramount look,” Banton produced clothes of high quality with his superb use of fabrics, workmanship and fit. Usually cut on the bias, his clothes were elegant and understated.
His films: Shanghai Express (1932) with Marlene Dietrich, Devil and the Deep with Tallulah Bankhead (1932), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Made for Each Other (1939) with Carole Lombard, and Cover Girl (1944) with Rita Hayworth.
His style, innovations, and influence on fashion:
- He held a crucial role in the evolution of the Marlene Dietrich image, designing her costumes in a true creative collaboration with the actress.
- Banton began using crepe, satin, and silk chiffon when talking pictures arrived because the previously used taffeta and stiff moiré were too noisy for the new medium.
- Movie fittings for the wardrobe-heavy films of the period would sometimes last up to 120 hours per film for an actor.
- He dressed actress Carole Lombard for both her film and personal wardrobe
- Despite his talent and popularity, Banton’s career was frequently hampered by his drinking problems. He would later be replaced by his assistant Edith Head.
Sources: The World’s Most Influential Fashion Designers (2010) Noel Palomo-Lovinski.