Talie Folsom | A&E Editor
May 5, 2022
As the 2022 Met Gala red carpet filled with gems, long dress trains, and intricate ensembles from the world’s best designers, archival vintage history also appeared courtesy of Kim Kardashian. Following the theme “Gilded Glamour,” Kim wore a stunning skin tight gown with over 6,000 hand-sewn crystals, previously worn by the beloved Marilyn Monroe during her infamous “Happy Birthday” serenade to President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
On May 19, 1962, the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe made its world premiere. The night she sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK, many things were talked about. The dress, the way she sang the song, and the scandalous essence she brought after taking off her coat to sing. The moment she took off her coat the audience gasped at the sight of the dress. Kim Kardashian understood not only the beauty and elegance of the dress, but the scandal around it. To rekindle the drama of the night Marilyn wore the dress, Kim furthered her look by copying Monroe’s platinum hair and large diamond earrings.
This gown was intended to be skin-tight; Marilyn Monroe actually needed to be sewn into the dress. When Kim Kardashian became fixed on wearing the dress for the Met, she tried on a replica, which fit her. She then acquired the original, expecting it to fit like the replica.
Unfortunately, when trying on the real thing, it did not fit. This did not stop Kim’s desire to wear the historical piece. With drive in the singular direction of fitting into the dress, Kim lost sixteen pounds in the three weeks before the Met Gala.
“I heard that in order to fit in [Marilyn Monroe’s] dress, [Kim] worked out on the treadmill and cut out all sugar and carbs from her diet,” senior Michaela Pometto said. “I think it’s very cool how devoted she was.”
Monroe purchased the “illusion gown,” which was created by the French costume designer Jean-Louis, for $1,440 (about $13,700 today) in the 60s. It has since become the most expensive dress in history, selling to Ripley’s Museum for $4.8 million. The dress was flown to California, transported by guards, and exclusively handled with gloves. The dedication to preserving the dress was no joke.
Rumors swirled 48 hours before Kim wore the dress, leading to a jaw-dropping reveal on the carpet. This was history being worn on the carpet surrounded with bodyguards to protect the condition of the dress. The pressure of preserving the dress was so intense that Kim Kardashian decided to only wear the real dress on the red carpet before switching to a replica for the rest of the evening.
“Many people argue that it was disrespectful for her to wear the dress,” senior Sophia Keefe said. “I think that the way she took care of the dress was very respectful. She only wore it for a short amount of time, wore less makeup, and did not eat or drink in it. It really showed how much she cared.”
How would Marilyn feel about the dress being worn? This is the question being asked around the media. Some critics of Kim’s choice speculate that Marilyn would have wanted to be the only one to wear the one-of-a-kind dress, and that Kim’s decision to make it her own for a night was disrespectful. On the other hand, people argue that Monroe would have appreciated her name resurfacing in today’s society and the continued honor of her legacy. Of course, we will never know Monroe’s thoughts, but the dress’ presence at the Met Gala definitely evoked drama once again, sixty years later.
The 2022 Met Gala seemed to be an overall success, and it was extra special with a dress of American history. Ripley’s will debut a new display of the gown at the Hollywood Museum on Memorial Day Weekend. Living close to Los Angeles will surely come in handy for SCHS Monroe fans who want to see the iconic dress in person. Given the chance, it should be fascinating to make the drive to LA to check it out!