Why Kim Kardashian should not have worn Marilyn Monroe’s dress to the Met Gala
If you haven’t heard by now, Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ dress to the Met Gala. Monroe wore this custom-made dress in May of 1962 when she sang her rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy at a fundraising gala. The gorgeous, rhinestone covered, nude, sheer dress has become one of the most memorable artifacts of fashion history. It has also become the most expensive dress ever sold at an auction to date, selling for over $4.8 million dollars in 2016. It was acquired into Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, where it clearly belongs in order to ensure maximum preservation.
On May 2nd, 2022, Kim Kardashian hit the Met Gala red carpet in the dress. Yes, THE dress. Inevitably, Kim broke the internet with such a statement. I can’t deny that she looked stunning in the dress, and it is very cohesive with her own brand, Skims. However, upon doing further research, I reaffirmed my initial reaction: she shouldn’t have worn the dress.
First off, the dress wasn’t even on theme. The 2022 Met Gala theme was the second part of “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” which was “Gilded Glamour.” It was meant to embody the Gilded Age of New York: a time between 1870-1890 where the cultural landscape of New York changed forever. Therefore, I am struggling to draw a connection between the theme and the 1960s dress. The dress, however historic, does not represent the era that the theme was meant to touch on, as it was made more than 70 years later. It doesn’t contain any aspects of late 1800s fashion either, which is usually characterized by corsets, large layered shirts, and structural aspects. On another note, it is completely unoriginal. She did not take an idea and make it her own, contrasting Kendall Jenner's incredible ode to Audrey Hepburn at the 2021 Met Gala (shown below).
As I was researching, one of the suggested questions on Google was, “How did Kim Kardashian fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress?” The short answer: she lost 16 pounds in a matter of 3 weeks leading up to the event. Being as the dress was custom made for Marilyn, and taking into account the physical differences between her and Kim K, it was inevitable that the dress would not fit. It also could not be altered, due to its fragility and preservation concerns. So Kim resorted to going on a strict, no carb, no sugar diet consisting of clean veggies and protein along with wearing a sauna suit twice a day and running on the treadmill, in order to lose the weight. Losing such a drastic amount of weight is incredibly unsustainable and unhealthy. Since she is such a large public figure, it also casts a narrative that we should fit into clothes rather than the clothes fitting us. Her behavior will be of influence to her audience and has the potential to perpetuate eating disorders.
As I mentioned, Kim Kardashian could not alter the dress. In addition, the dress is extremely fragile and must be taken proper care of in order to ensure its longevity. A group of fashion conservators came together to comment on the event and revealed some shocking information. First off, the dress is made of a delicate fabric called souffle. It is easily stretched and becomes brittle over time. The dress is hand embroidered with thousands of rhinestones which weigh down the dress. So, the combination with the original, old thread and sheer gravity, it is expected that the jewels may fall off or be diminished in some way. It is also worth noting that sweat, makeup, or hair products could also degrade the dress. Sweating may create stains. Makeup may accidentally find its way onto a sleeve or the neckline. Even particles of hair spray could damage the fabric. Needless to say, Kim’s wearing of the dress will damage it, no matter how many “conservation measures” are taken. She knew this too, as she only wore the dress for a couple minutes while walking up the Met steps and taking pictures. She then changed into a replica of it for the remainder of the event.
Finally, she should have never worn the dress because it is not her artifact of history. Marilyn Monroe changed pop culture, fashion, and the entertainment entertainment industries forever. It is only right to keep her legacy alive with such a famous and memorable outfit. The dress is hers and hers only, and to wear it shows ignorance to her dignity. Much like Marilyn, Kim Kardashian has also made amazing contributions to fashion and twenty-first century culture. But that doesn’t give her a right to outshine or build her brand off of Monroe. Marilyn was a pioneer of her time, that memory should not be forgotten. Kim Kardashian is a mega star, and by wearing the dress, her name will forever be tied to Marilyn’s and this important event in history.