Kim Kardashian Shouldn’t Have Worn a Marilyn Monroe Dress to the Met Gala, Say Fashion Experts

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Cindy Ord/MG22/Getty Photos

At Monday night’s Gilded Glamor-themed Met Gala, Kim Kardashian (and her lover Pete Davidson) swooped down on the red carpet to deliver the most talked-about look of the night. Kardashian arrived in Marilyn Monroe’s infamous original “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, the skin-tight, almost see-through gown she wore to serenade John F. Kennedy, her supposed lover, in 1962.

In an interview with FashionKardashian explained that she borrowed the dress from Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Orlando, which in turn had acquired the creation from Julien’s Auctions in 2016 for $4.8 million; the dress, originally sketched by Bob Mackie and later designed by Jean-Louis, is the most expensive ever sold at auction. In a press release, Ripley described the dress as “very heavy”: more than 6,000 crystals adorn it, making the garment weigh around six pounds.

After the Gala, anger began to surface among the fashion archivist community: several curators of fragile garments, including the former Chief Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, expressed outrage that Kardashian had even stepped down. take the original gown out of storage and use it, which may damage the garment.

Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe to the 2022 Met Gala, and the wardrobe drama didn’t end there

“When I was director of the Costume Institute’s conservation lab, I had to turn down requests from people (including Anna Wintour) for models and celebrities to wear irreplaceable items from the collection,” curator Sarah Scaturro wrote in an Instagram caption.

A Met representative said the museum had no comment. The Daily Beast has contacted Scaturro, Condé Nast and Wintour for comment.

Scaturro’s critique has been republished by Marjolein Koek, Curator of Textiles at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and Madelief Hohé, Curator of Fashion at the Kunstmuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands. (The Daily Beast has contacted Koek and Hohé for comment.)

“In my opinion, [Kim wearing the dress] It wasn’t a good idea,” fashion historian Keren Ben-Horin told The Daily Beast. “It raises a lot of questions about ethics. Sarah makes very important points that this is a unique historical garment that should not leave the museum. For conservators, there are many things that they consider before even taking any steps to restore the dress. Sometimes they can even leave sweat stains, because it’s part of the integrity of the dress.”

Scaturro said that because Kardashian’s request to wear Monroe’s dress was granted, other “stylish, powerful rich people” would now likely be inspired to pressure conservatives to lend them “equally irreplaceable” outfits.

After the Daily Beast reached out to Scaturro for comment, the curator changed her Instagram account settings to private.

“Wearing historical clothing damages it,” Scaturro continued in his caption. “Final point. A 60-year-old embellished silk dress is going to have problems, weak spots. And Kim is certainly putting on products, lotions, creams, perfumes, body makeup, etc., all of which will damage him even more.”

“Once a dress like that is put on the body, the body sweats, there’s makeup,” Ben-Horin said. “You could see that when Kim Kardashian walked up the stairs, she had a hard time taking big steps. The dress could have easily been stained or torn, and I think it was an unethical choice on her part to let the dress leave the museum.”

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<p>Actress Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.</p>
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Actress Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.

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“I have not seen the comments on Instagram that [Scaturro] wrote, but one of our missions is to educate and bring different and wonderful exhibits, people, places and things that are truly intriguing to the world,” Amanda Joiner, vice president of licensing and publishing for Ripley Entertainment, told The Daily Beast. “We felt like this was a way to bring something that is 60 years old and very iconic to a new generation.”

On Tuesday, the Daily Beast caught up with Joiner, who oversaw Kardashian’s Marilyn Met Gala project, by phone as she sat in a Monroe dress in a speedster van in Manhattan alongside “a ton of security.”

After receiving Kardashian’s request to wear the dress a couple of months ago, “we had to make some decisions as to whether we were willing to let Kim borrow the dress or not,” Joiner said. “We did two different tests with her. The first was in Los Angeles in April and then the second later in April to see if the dress would fit or not. The biggest challenge that we had is that we really wanted to make sure that we maintain the integrity of the dress and preservation, because it’s 60 years old and we feel like it’s such an iconic fashion piece, both from a historical perspective, but also from a pop culture perspective. ”.

No one but Marilyn Monroe had worn the dress before, Joiner said, so allowing Kardashian to try out the look required a lot of preparation.

“Basically we had a lot of conversations with Kim and her team and put a lot of requirements together with the safety and handling of the dress,” Joiner said. “The dress was never just with Kim. It was always with a representative of Ripley. We always made sure that any time we felt like the dress was in danger of ripping or we felt uncomfortable about anything, we always had the ability to say we weren’t going to go through with this.”

During one of Kardashian’s attempts to try on the dress, which Ripley usually keeps in a dark, humidity- and temperature-controlled vault, she discovered that Monroe’s tailored look didn’t quite fit. Determined to make it work, Kardashian went on a strict diet and claimed that she lost 16 pounds in 3 weeks.

The strict measures to protect the dress, which could not be altered, did not end there. On the night of the gala, Kardashian was dressed by a gloved conservationist from Ripley’s, and she only wore hers during her red carpet appearance before quickly changing. For the rest of the night she wore a replica and had three in total on hand in case she needed them.

“I am extremely respectful of the dress and what it means to American history,” Kardashian said. Fashion. “I would never want to sit on it or eat on it or risk damaging it and I won’t wear the kind of body makeup I usually wear. Everything had to be timed specifically and I had to practice going up the stairs.”

It’s common practice for celebrities to wear dark archival couture garments or vintage gowns to red carpet events, but because Monroe’s gown is undeniably famous, the stakes were high at the Met Gala.

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<p>The dress that Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang "Happy Birthday Mr President" to US President John F. Kennedy in May 1962, is displayed in a glass enclosure at Julien’s Auction House in Los Angeles, California on November 17, 2016, prior to its auction.</p>
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<div class="imagen en línea__credit">FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images</div>
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The dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to the President of the United States at its auction.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

“The fabric is very, very thin and the stones are personally hand-sewn into the dress,” Joiner said. To transport the dress from Ripley’s in Orlando to Calabasas for fittings, Joiner and his team flew in a private plane sent by Kardashian.

“When we transport the dress, the dress is always in its dress form,” Joiner said. (A dress form is essentially a mannequin that only has a torso with no head or limbs.) There is also file paper in the box, and then the box doesn’t even go under the loading part. He’s on the plane with us.”

Ripley’s will then return the dress to the vault in Orlando until Memorial Day weekend, when it is scheduled to go on display at Ripley’s in Hollywood. Even taking every possible precaution, the onus of protecting the dress falls on Ripley, which Ben-Horin believes they failed to do.

“Once a dress enters the collection of a museum, in the same way that you would not leave [Kardashian] go with him Mona Lisa, I think it’s the same thing,” Ben-Horin said. “We can’t expect people to understand conservation issues, but I think it’s the role of the museum itself to set very clear guidelines and codes of ethics on how pieces can leave the museum.”

In other words, even if Kardashian’s desire to respect the dress and its historical value is truly genuine, her vision should never have been allowed to come to life.

“We all have a fantasy of using something from a museum,” Ben-Horin said. “That’s what makes fashion shows so successful. But you can’t, and it’s up to the museum to educate people why they can’t do that.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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