They called it! Kim Kardashian really damaged that cult Marilyn Monroe dress

A woman stands on the red carpet and poses in a glittering dress and white fur scab

(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Shocking news for no one: the historical Marilyn Monroe dress worn by reality star Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala last month shows signs of damage and, conservatives say, the reality star will now be involved in the dress story.

Pictures before and after posted on Instagram this week show a new wear of clothes, which Monroe wore in 1962 to sing the sensual song “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.

The images, released by private collector Marilyn Monroe, show the 60-year-old cult piece looking worn with sequins, torn buckles on the back, wrinkled and pulled stitches after the “Kardashians” star wore it on an annual fashion affair. .

Kardashian’s decision at the time was criticized by fashion historians and textile conservatorsas well as the original designer of the dress, Bob Mackie, whose fears in this regard have been confirmed.

“Every one of us in the museum community and the world of conservation knew it was going to happen as soon as we saw that dress being worn,” said Kevin Jones, curator of the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. In a telephone interview with The Times on Tuesday.

The Marilyn Monroe collection, which considers itself the largest private collection of Monroe’s personal property archive, posted pictures of the dress on Instagram while it was on display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Hollywood. There, visitors could see the piece for themselves – and the damage done to their clothes.

“So much about preserving ‘dress integrity and preservation’, @ripleysbelieveitornot, did it pay off?” it was written in the descriptions of the photos, and many weighed the damage in the comments. The photos seem to show the dress before it was on display in 2016.

Representatives of Kardashian and Ripley’s did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ requests for comment.

Textile conservatives and fashion historians have said that the dress, which has not been worn since Monroe slipped into it, is too fragile to withstand wearing it again. They feared that Kardashian had returned the mission of historical costume collections and the science of conservation with a stunt.

“[Marilyn] she was a goddess. Crazy goddess, but goddess. She was fantastic. Nobody takes photos like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her, ”designer Mackie said in an interview last month Entertainment Weekly. “No one else should be seen in that dress.”

The historic Jean Louis dress – sketched by young Mackie and made to order for the star of the “Some Like It Hot” series – is made from a gentle souffle that has become weaker and more fragile over the years. The dress is also embroidered with heavy beads that drop onto the fabric as time goes on.

Black and white photo of a blue woman surrounded by several men

In this May 19, 1962 photo, actress Marilyn Monroe appears in the legendary dress she wore while singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy during a reception in New York City. (Cecil Stoughton / photos of the White House / Presidential Library and John F. Kennedy Museum / Associated Press)

A recent walk on the red carpet and steep steps of the Metropolitan Museum further accelerated the aging process of the dress, confirming the fears of Kardashian’s critics.

“Unfortunately, this is no surprise to me or anyone else in the museum world!” fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, author of “Worn to the Present: Clothes That Made History,” wrote in an email to The Times on Tuesday.

“The dress of that era and those fragile materials will inevitably be damaged if worn. Sequins fall off historic dresses if you just breathe on them,” Chrisman-Campbell said.

Curator Jones also said that he was not surprised by the damage he saw in the photos, but that he was “sad”.

“There was never a chance that anyone could wear the dress and it wasn’t damaged. Even after all the phrases about caution and [Kardashian] don’t wear body makeup – damage will happen, “Jones said.” This is a 60-year-old dress covered in crystals that are really heavy. It is also barely stable enough to be mounted on a custom [dress] shape according to Marilyn’s measurements, let alone someone’s body. “

Monroe’s dress has been described as “the original nude dress.” The “Seven-Year Itch” star had to be sewn into a piece before her 1962 performance at the Madison Square Garden fundraiser held months before her death.

Jones said that the dress “was never intended to be walked up like that”, noting that Monroe was sewn into the dress when she arrived at the event, sang her song and posed for photos. And then she took off her dress.

“This was a stunt dress. It was supposed to be shocking. It was supposed to be provocative. It was supposed to be cheeky. And it wasn’t supposed to work in it,” Jones said.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a private, for-profit “attraction company,” bought the dress in 2016 for nearly $ 5 million and said the dress is believed to be valued at more than $ 10 million around the time Kardashian wore it.

The organization initially denied Kardashian, 41, permission to wear the dress to the Met Gala because it didn’t suit her. After losing about £ 16, Ripley admitted and said: “Great care has been taken to preserve this piece of history.”

Mackie, who designed the dress, said Kardashian publicly wearing it was a “big mistake”.

In addition to the equipment, the founder of Skims and Monroe superfan wore a dress only for part of the gala on the red carpet. She paired it with fur theft to disguise that the last zipper was only partially buttoned, and then later changed to a replica, leading many to wonder why she even had to wear the original.

Kardashian then flew her private plane over the dress from New York to California so Ripley’s could exhibit it at its Hollywood location for Remembrance Day weekend. She also visited him there on May 26. Despite the displeasure over Jean Louis’s dress, Kardashian – apparently styled as a modern Monroe who will try to preserve your appearance – proudly worn another historic Monroe dress a few days later.

The beauty mogul said that in search of Jean Louis’ “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, she not only came across the dress Monroe wore to the 1962 Golden Globes, but also learned that the Monroe Golden Globe winner was a friend. floral designer Jeff Leatham.

“I saw all this as a sign of the way all the stars were aligned. It will forever be one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to channel my inner Marilyn in this way, on such a special night, ”Kardashian wrote. Instagram after wearing those two dresses.

“That era has passed, and yet it is a dress that has survived to remind us of that time and bring us back,” Jones said. “Now we have to go ahead with Kim Kardashian as part of that dress – for what reason? There is no respect for damaging cultural icons – whether it’s a dress, whether it’s a document or a building – because the damage can never be repaired and that’s now something that future historians, future conservators, future viewers will see. And that’s something that didn’t have to happen. “

It is unclear whether the controversy over the dresses will be touched upon in the documentary series “The Kardashians” on Hulu. Representatives of the streaming service did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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