Marilyn Monroe’s Dress Designer Slams Kim Kardashian For Wearing Her Dress To Met Gala

Bob Mackie, Dr. Justine De Young, John F. Kennedy, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian, Marilyn Monroe, Reality TV, Scott Fortner, The Kardashians

Looking back on the 2022 Met Gala looks, there’s one iconic Americana dress that took the world and certainly the fashion history world by storm. That’s none other than the nude colored, crystal dripped, soufflé gauze Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday Mr. president” gown, borrowed from Ripley’s Believe It or Not and worn by Kim Kardashian.

Soon it will be the dress’s iconic moment’s birthday as It was May 19th 1962 when America’s forever sweetheart Marilyn wore it to sing ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ to a surely grinning President John F Kennedy. Marilyn would sadly die less than a few months later and while we stan Kimmy all day, mouths dropped to the floor seeing this dress being used for a night out like it was your average heirloom hand me down- Met Gala or not!

The outfit choice seemed to have fashion history enthusiasts, dress historians, Marilyn fans and conservators alike gasping from their living rooms. Discussions on social media quickly turned to the ethical considerations of Kim wearing such a historically significant garment, and who was to blame for this escapade?

People reports the costume designer, Bob Mackie is now speaking up about the dresses momentary revival and he’s not mincing words. “Nobody else should be seen in that dress”, the iconic costumer designer stated simply. Now 82 years old, it was Bob who originally sketched the famous dress for Jean Louis, fashioning it exclusively for Marilyn’s body.

“I thought it was a big mistake. [Marilyn] was a goddess. A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that.” He explained, “And it was done for her. It was designed for her.”

Kim told Vogue she lost 16lbs in 3 weeks in order to fit into the dress. “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein. I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.” She reportedly also only wore the real dress for the steps of the Met, before changing into a replica.

Kim seemed to have good albeit misguided intentions, explaining “I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won’t be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do.” She added, “Everything had to be specifically timed and I had to practice walking up the stairs.”

Having planned this for a while, she explained, “The idea really came to me after the gala in September last year. I thought to myself, what would I have done for the American theme if it had not been the Balenciaga look? What’s the most American thing you can think of? And that’s Marilyn Monroe.”

Despite the precautions, many worried about what wearing the dress could do to the material integrity of the gown. “Irresponsible and unnecessary”, Dr. Justine De Young, professor of fashion history called it. “She can- and did- commission a replica which would be indistinguishable from the original.” Dr Young explained to People in a statement. “Such an iconic piece of American history should not be put at risk of damage just for an ego-boost and photo-op.”

If you’re wondering how the dress came to be. Scott Fortner, a Marilyn historian and collector, tells the tale. “When Marilyn knew she’d be performing at President John F. Kennedy’s birthday gala she contacted Louis and said, ‘I want you to design a truly historical dress, a dazzling dress that’s one of a kind.’  She asked that it be a dress that, ‘only Marilyn Monroe could wear’.

“Marilyn stood nude as the fabric for the dress was literally sculpted to her body to precisely match every curve.” The fabric he explained, “was layered strategically so she wouldn’t need to wear undergarments.” He added, “In this case, Kim Kardashian’s measurements are somewhat different from Marilyn’s. It’s logically assumed the fabric and seams were stressed.” Aside from the measurement issue, age is a growing concern as the dress is 60 years old and materials disintegrate over time.

Looking onwards, we can be grateful to Kim wearing Marilyn’s dress for the magic it was to see it living for one more night, and for the awareness it will ultimately bring to safeguarding and respecting our cultural and historic treasures.


[Photo Credit: Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage]

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