May 19 marks the 60th anniversary of the night Marilyn Monroe took the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to sing a sultry “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to JFK.
Did viewers in New York, or the millions watching the televised gala at home, even notice Marilyn’s breathy voice as she serenaded President Kennedy about his approaching 45th birthday? Or were they too transfixed by the shimmering flesh-colored dress that gave the impression of being naked on stage?
Kim Kardashian’s success in gaining access to the iconic silk gauze gown — which Marilyn dubbed her “skin-and-pearls” dress — to wear in a stunning moment at the Met Gala this week was a real fashion scoop.
And it was an Irishman who made it all possible – or at least played a central role in the events. Originally from Athlone, Co. Roscommon, Martin Nolan is now a co-owner of Julien’s Auctions, based in Los Angeles. He helped source the dress after Kim said she would love to wear it.
“It was Kim Kardashian’s brilliant idea to wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress to this year’s Met Gala,” said Nolan, speaking from London this week.
“And she contacted us because we are the company that sold the dress in 2016 for $4.81 million.
“We contacted Ripley’s, who bought the dress and assured them that Kim would be extra careful.”
He believes Kim brought “a new glory” to the Marilyn dress by wearing it 60 years later.
“I think Kim’s choice was brilliant because it was a celebration of American fashion and she worked really hard to make sure she could fit into this dress and wear it the way she did.”
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The background of the dress is fascinating, he says.
“The sketch for Marilyn’s dress was done by Bob Mackie. Jean Louis designed it and Elizabeth Courtney of the Western Costume Company made it in six weeks. There were matching shoes. Marilyn paid for the dress herself. She was 36 years old and paid $1,440. I saw the receipt.”
Tabloid rumors swirled about how Kim fitted into the dress that Marilyn reportedly had to be sewn into.
Kardashian didn’t fit in after a test run when guards arrived with the dress and she had to wear gloves to try it on. Kardashian tells Fashion Wanting to cry, she asked for a strict three-week diet that also included wearing a sauna suit twice a day, walking on a treadmill, cutting out sugar and all carbs, and eating vegetables and protein.
It worked – and the second time I tried on the robe, which previous owner Marty Zweig had kept for years in an air-conditioned display case in his penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New York, it fit like a glove.
When she arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Monday night in her robe, Kardashian told Vogue that a conservationist from Ripley’s wearing white gloves helped her into the dress. She only wore the dress for minutes, posing at the bottom of the stairs before morphing into a replica.
It was quick and fast, just like the 90 seconds Marilyn Monroe had on stage singing for President Kennedy.
Kardashian bleached her hair for the total Monroe look and partied with boyfriend Pete Davidson after the Met Gala.
The strict diet she had embarked on went out the window as they ate pizza and donuts.
Monroe’s iconic dress is no stranger to Irish fashionistas, having been brought here on a private plane in October 2016 and exhibited for a week at The Museum of Style at Newbridge Silverware in Kildare, accompanied by a specially made mannequin.
Maintaining key pieces of film history is a detailed process. Pauline Doyle, curator of the Museum of Style, says they have “a designated archive room where the temperature is controlled, around 10C and 95 percent of our garments are in flat, acid-free cardboard and wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, away from the light.” . When on display, the lighting must not exceed 50 lux.”
Doyle says the pieces on display are rotated or “rested” after about six months to give them a break. “They are placed in the acid-free boxes and then taken out again. Every time an article of clothing is touched, we have to wear white cotton gloves,” she said.
“One of our key pieces would be that of Grace Kelly High society Dress she wore in her very last film. We had some requests to loan it to museums and we loaned Lady Diana Spencer’s engagement blouse to an exhibition at Kensington Palace.
“It is a pleasure to work with these garments. They’re all so unique and it’s also a bit surreal at times to handle a piece of clothing and know who was the last person who wore it.”
Whether you’re for or against giving iconic dresses a second day in the sun, one thing’s for sure – when the Monroe dress returns to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! In Orlando, Fla., door-to-door sales were set to boom after the shimmering dress shot to worldwide fame after being worn on both ends of Manhattan on just two nights, 60 years apart.
Three recycled dresses given new life
Zahara Jolie Pitt
It’s not often that recycled dresses from the Oscars evoke that “ahh” moment, but that’s exactly what happened when Angelina Jolie’s eldest daughter, Zahara, wore her mother’s silver, beaded Elie Saab dress to the 2014 premiere of eternal last October.
Zahara’s initiative was proof, as if we needed it, that beautiful red carpet gowns shouldn’t be given up just for one-wear.
In fact, the whole clan has dabbled in vintage mixing, and Shiloh decided to upcycle, cutting off half the hem of a tan dress her mother wore to present a prize to French beekeepers. Top marks for the Jolie Pitt crew for inspiring fashion sustainability.
Not a fashion mum, Madonna has a lavish wardrobe, but the fuchsia satin strapless gown in her 1984 material girl video was a rental dress originally made for the film Goodbye Norma Jean.
The dress was rented by the Palace Costume and Prop Company for use in the music video and was in turn a replica of the carnation pink dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she performed the song Diamonds are a girl’s best friend in the 1953 film Gentlemen prefer blondes.
Princess Beatrice has gotten such bad fashion press over the years. Who can forget the “toilet seat” hat she wore to Kate and William’s royal wedding in 2011.
However, when it came to her own wedding last year, her decision to shop in her grandmother’s closet and borrow one of her Norman Hartnell beaded dresses was one of the finest examples of royal coven fashion in decades.
Peau De Soie’s taffeta and organza gown, trimmed in duchess satin and set with diamonds, was redesigned by Angela Kelly and Stewart Parvin, the Queen’s trusted tailors, to flatter the princess.
https://www.independent.ie/style/fashion/kim-kardashians-marilyn-moment-and-the-irishman-who-made-it-happen-41615493.html Kim Kardashian’s Marilyn moment and the Irishman who made it possible