Marilyn Monroe’s costume designer says it was a ‘big mistake’ to let Kim Kardashian wear her iconic dress to the Met Gala

The Kardashians rarely go anywhere without making headlines, and such was the case when Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe’s iconic glitzy gown to the recent Met Gala event – and her outfit choice caused more than just one controversy. Firstly, there was the backlash against Kim’s “dangerous” comments about how she had to go on an extreme diet in order to lose 16lbs in just three weeks to fit into the one-of-a-kind dress, then there was the commentary around whether the reality star – or anyone for that matter – should have been allowed to wear such a historical piece. 

And now the man behind the dress himself, legendary designer Bob Mackie, has entered the chat with his own thoughts about the outfit choice (which was pulled out of the archives to fit the ‘gilded glamour’ dress code for the prestigious event). The dress was originally donned by Monroe when she sang a legendary breathy rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song to then-president John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday, just months before her own untimely death, and Mackie isn’t too pleased about the Kardashian being allowed to wear it. 

“I thought it was a big mistake,” Mackie told Entertainment Weekly, while previewing the new Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM) fashion on film series Follow the Thread. “[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.”

The designer, who was just 23-years-old when he sketched the gown for the Hollywood star, also went on to echo historians’ concerns that wearing the gown would have undoubtably damaged it as it had to be adjusted to fit Kim during several fittings. And TCM host, Alicia Malone, who was in conversation with Mackie as part of the programme, agreed: “There are all the issues with the actual preservation of the dress and things like oxygen can affect a dress,” she explains. “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.”

Kim though, was keen to stress on the night that every care had been taken to ensure the structural integrity of the dress remained intact, working alongside Ripley’s museum, which houses the dress, to preserve the piece of pop culture by carefully transporting it with gloves and ensuring she only wore the dress for a limited period of time on the red carpet. She didn’t actually change into the dress until she was ready to stroll the red carpet, she explained at the time, before changing into a replica dress for the rest of the event. 

However, despite his concerns, the dress’ original designer did also draw some parallels between the ill-fated Some Like It Hot actor and Kim Kardashian, saying that they were both “very publicity savvy”: “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,” he concluded. 

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