Kim Kardashian’s decision to wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 1962 Jean Louis gown for Met Gala had already divided fashion pundits and now fashion designer Bob Mackie, who drew the sketch for the original dress, has weighed in on the topic. Monroe famously sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F Kennedy in the dress. Fashion historians believe that the gown is a part of the movie costume history and should be preserved as such, while Kardashian’s fans have hailed the socialite for her nod to the movie icon.
“I thought it was a big mistake,” Mackie told EW, while previewing the new Turner Classic Movies’ fashion on film series “Follow the Thread”. Mackie drew the sketch for the original gown in his early career working as an assistant to Jean Louis. He was only 23 when he did the sketch for the gown without an inkling about its history making future. “(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. Nobody else should be seen in that dress,” he said.
Mackie also echoed historians’ concerns that wearing the gown was damaging to its preservation and structural integrity. TCM host Alicia Malone, who spoke with Mackie as part of the network’s upcoming “Follow the Thread” also raised similar concerns. “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,” Malone said.
Kardashian, 41, has gone on record to say that she went on a crash diet to lose 16 pounds within three weeks to fit into the 60-year-old dress, which has been on display in Orlando, Florida, at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. She also dyed her hair blonde in a nod to the movie legend. According to a report in People magazine, the dress originally cost USD 12,000 and was reportedly so tight that Monroe, 36, had to be sewn into it prior to her performance for President Kennedy on May 19, 1962 at a Madison Square Garden fundraiser, just three months before her death. Ripley’s purchased the dress from Julien’s Auction in November 2016 for USD 4.81 million, making it one of the most expensive dresses in the world.