The famous white disco suit that John Travolta’s character Tony Manero sported during one of the Bee Gees-scored “Saturday Night Fever” dance sequences may not make it to L.A. MOCA’s hotly anticipated disco retrospective, but it will take the floor at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s forthcoming and no doubt also very intellectually rigorous exhibition of famous movie outfits “Hollywood Costume.”
The classic get-up is being loaned to the London institution by a lifelong fan of the late-disco era blockbuster, who recently told the Guardian: “I was nine years old when Saturday Night Fever came out and before seeing the film I had already fallen in love with the legendary soundtrack.” So enamored was the young man with the soothing sounds of the Gibb brothers and company that when the opportunity to purchase Travolta’s legendary outfit — sometime after it sold for triple its high estimate at at Christie’s sale in 1995, for $145,000 — he succumbed to his Saturday Night Fever.
“When I saw the suit on sale, I wanted to buy it because of what it represented to me personally,” the London-based owner explained. Though he’s not a collector, he chose to remain anonymous.
Another fan, late American film critic Gene Siskel, first purchased the costume at a 1978 charity auction for $2,000, having listed the film as one of his favorites. The suit was originally purchased from a store in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn where the Tony Manero lived. At the V&A it will hit the dance floor with other iconic costumes including Darth Vader’s black cyborg threads from “Star Wars,” Holly Golightly’s elegant black dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and Jack Sparrow’s shabby chic nautical marauder getup from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.
“Hollywood Costume” runs from October 20, 2012-January 27, 2013.
— Benjamin Sutton