As the story goes, in 1979, Paramount Pictures auctioned the famous white suit. When film critic Gene Siskel won it with the highest bid, Mr. Travolta inscribed the interior lining of the suit: “To Gene, so here’s to a classic, your friend, John Travolta.” But after Siskel died in 1995, the suit was auctioned off at Christie’s, and its whereabouts were thereafter unknown—until this year.
After a media launch for “Hollywood Costume,” Keith Lodwick, the show’s assistant curator, got a call from the owner of the suit. The person wished to remain anonymous, but agreed to loan the single-breasted suit replete with matching waistcoat, flared trousers with 28-inch waist and Siskel inscription.
Patrizia Von Bandenstein, who designed the suit, had this to say about it, in a statement:
When choosing what goes in to such a major dance costume, I paid attention to the usual factors of cut, “danceability” and maintenance and I thought about the character of Tony Manero. I reasoned that Tony’s position in his traditional Italian-American family (overshadowed by his brother the seminarian, and undervalued for his compassion and dancing abilities) is in extreme contrast to his dominant position in the neighborhood. By virtue of his style, panache, and above all his lithe grace on the dance floor, he is a hero to his local gang, and by extension, to all of us.