Fashion

Marilyn Monroe's Dress Designer Says Kim Kardashian Wearing It Was A 'Big Mistake'

Bob Mackie is not happy.

By Lucy Cocoran
When Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe's iconic 'Happy Birthday Mr President' dress to the Met Gala, people had thoughts. From her comments on having to lose several kilos in order to fit into it, to having the dress removed from its preservation place in Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum, the reality-star had to jump through several hoops to pull it off.
Now, the designer of Marilyn's dress, Bob Mackie has spoken about it, and it seems he's not happy. Mackie, who worked as a fashion assistant to Jean Louis early in his career, has called Kim's Met Gala look "a big mistake" in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"[Marilyn] was a goddess. A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her," he argued. "Nobody else should be seen in that dress," he told the outlet.
The designer initially drew the dress in 1962 for Jean Louis, who created the timeless masterpiece for Monroe to sing Happy Birthday to the then-president John F. Kennedy for his 45th Birthday. Monroe tragically died just three months later.
Mackie's concerns echo those of several other historians, who believe that removing the dress from storage would damage its structural integrity. Having designed the dress especially for Marilyn, he likely never expected to see another person wearing it.
Television host Alicia Malone, spoke with Mackie for an upcoming series titled, Follow the Thread which documents the link between film and fashion. Malone voiced similar concerns about Kim's decision to wear the historic gown, saying:
"There are all the issues with the actual preservation of the dress and things like oxygen can affect a dress. Usually, these outfits are kept very much in controlled environments and we see that with the Met. The Costume Institute is so careful about how they are handling these historic items. So, it was quite alarming that she was able to wear it. I personally wish she wore a replica instead of the real thing."
That being said, Malone did note that there are striking similarities between Marilyn and Kim, citing their savviness with publicity as a linking trait.
"You can draw many parallels between Marilyn Monroe and Kim Kardashian in the way that they're both very publicity savvy," she said. "Of course, this was very much a publicity stunt that worked for Kim Kardashian. Marilyn Monroe was someone who also loved to create sensation, as she did with that naked dress. Also, they are women who have changed the ideal beauty of the moment. Marilyn Monroe, when she came in her curves became very popular during the 1950s. And we see a lot of young women vying to look like Kim Kardashian. For better or worse, she's changed the ideal body shape for women."
It raises questions about a woman's 'ideal body type' and how our perceptions have changed over the years. Monroe, who was well-known for her beauty, was desperate to be seen as something more. Rather then being praised for how she looked, she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress in Hollywood, which is something she struggled with throughout her entire career. Kim Kardashian has similarly risen to fame for her looks, but rather than shy away from it, she's decided to lean into the public fascination with her body. This clash in ideology has people wondering if Kim was the right person to slip into the dress (and as a result, life) of someone who was so different to her in that regard.
Speaking about the decision to have Kim wear the dress, Malone finished by musing on how her Met Gala look has undeniably changed the course of history.
"I don't know what Kim Kardashian sees in Marilyn herself or how much she knows about her history. But definitely now, Kim will be tied to that dress as Marilyn is — so it'll be the Marilyn Monroe dress that Kim Kardashian also wore to the Met Gala."
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  • undefined: Lucy Cocoran