Connie Furr Soloman & Jan Jewett
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Known for creating fantastic spectacles and possessing rare charisma, the magnificent and flamboyant Wladziu Valentino Liberace was a world-renowned star in the entertainment industry for more than four decades, and is particularly celebrated for the outrageous costumes that people remember and most associate with him.
In Liberace Extravaganza!, Liberace's famous sequined, bejeweled, and rhinestone-studded outfits, as well as his extravagant collection of furs and feather capes, are exhibited in book-form for the very first time. Authors Connie Furr Soloman and Jan Jewett are well-established costume designers and have been given exclusive access by the Liberace Museum and Foundation to photograph Liberace's costumes. They will trace the incredible development of them from Liberace's humble beginnings as a young man performing in his brother's hand-me-downs, to his $24,000 suits (more than 10 of which were worn during his 80 minute performances) covered in layers of silk and satin ruffles, Austrian Swarovski crystal rhinestones, and 14k white gold diamond encrusted buttons, to his "electric" costumes, the first ones ever created, that featured four thousand light bulbs and weighed more than twenty-five pounds.
The book will include a foreword from Michael Travis, Liberace's principle designer, interviews with Jim Lapidus and Anna Nateece, two of Liberace's most celebrated designers, and Ray Arnett, Liberace's stage manager. The designers will give first-hand accounts of what it was like to work with the self-proclaimed "Mr. Showmanship." Also featured will be 20 drawings, pulled from the designers' original sketchbooks, that were used to create some of Liberace's most famous costumes.
This unique project is timed to the release of a biopic on Liberace directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson, as well as the premier of a Broadway musical about Liberace. The film is in preproduction with HBO films and the air date has not yet been set. Costumes for the Broadway show will be designed by Bob Mackie, a nine time Emmy Award winning designer who was also nominated for three Academy Awards, has designed for entertainment icons, such as Cher, Judy Garland, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, and Mitzi Gaynor, and was the designer for The Carol Burnett Show and the television adaptation of Gypsy.
This is the only book on the market authorized and endorsed by the Liberace Foundation, whose Liberace Museum, located in Las Vegas, was open for more than thirty-one years and welcomed 450,000 people during its peak years. With the release of our book, the film and the Broadway show, it will be sponsoring a three-year traveling exhibit of the costumes. Specific venues to come.