Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra in 'Cleopatra' Designed by Travis Banton


1930's inspired Egyptian gown of green silk slipper satin, bias-cut full-length gown ornamented with self-pleated fabric at torso ending in an extremely long train and ten-foot self-satin panels attached at bust. The garment has two cloth labels one hand inscribed [CLAUDETTE COLBERT] and the other inscribed [995-AU3].




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Additional Notes

There seems to be some controversy on what the problem was between Claudette Colbert and the costumes designed for the film “Cleopatra,” but there are enough reports that indicate that things did not go well. Cecil B. De Mille, who directed the film and had his own staff at Paramount, had costumes made for Colbert but, as shooting began, she refused to wear them. Travis Banton, who was the head costume designer at Paramount was called in to design a whole new wardrobe to appease the actress. Colbert was known for her incredible body, but she also had very specific ideas on what her flaws were. She requested that Banton expose as much of her chest as possible to detract from what she felt was her thick waist and short neck. It is reported that after rejecting many of his initial designs, she pricked her finger and “x’d” out the designs with her own blood and said that she would cut her wrists if any more bad designs came through. But, working day and night, Banton did come up with designs that appeased the star and costumes were being created overnight for the scenes the next day. Very dramatic stuff and probably the story has been elaborated on over the years.

The designs that were created by Banton played more of an homage to the Deco period of the thirties than they did to the actual historical costumes of Egyptian times, but to a large extent, these looks have created an image in the minds of people of what they must have looked like. No undergarments or underpinnings were created and the usually bias cut creations clung to Colbert’s body and left nothing to the imagination.



“Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra in 'Cleopatra' Designed by Travis Banton,” Film Costume Collection, accessed June 18, 2024,

Item Relations

Item: Images of Claudette Colbert in 'Cleopatra' Still images from film This Item