When Kim Kardashian decided to wear Marilyn Monroe's iconic naked dress to the Met Gala earlier this month, she faced a whole lot of criticism over her choice to take such a historically significant garment out for a night. But perhaps none was as sharply worded as that from Bob Mackie, one of the original designers of the dress.
Mackie is the legendary costume designer responsible for drawing the original sketch for the 1962 gown when he was just 23 years old and working as an assistant to fashion designer Jean Louis, who was responsible for actually constructing the garment out of silk soufflé — a highly flammable fabric that gives the dress its nude illusion effect.
When asked about the reality star's decision to revive one of his most famous creations on the red carpet, Mackie told Entertainment Weekly, “I thought it was a big mistake. [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.”
In fact, the dress wasn't just designed for Monroe, but was actually dyed to match her exact skin tone and was sewn onto her body prior to her infamous performance of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at Madison Square Garden.
Mackie's thoughts echo concerns from some historians who claimed that even just the act of Kardashian putting the dress on her body was enough to cause damage to its future preservation and structural integrity. TCM host Alicia Malone also explained to the outlet that “there are all the issues with the actual preservation of the dress and things like oxygen can affect a dress. 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.”
Of course, Mackie's complaint might have as much to do with the celebrity wearing it as her choice in attire as he doesn't seem to be particularly impressed with the Kardashians as a whole. The famed designer previously told Page Six in 2021, “The Kardashians are very attractive and some are downright beautiful, but they’re just famous for being famous. You know, they made a lot of money, so I guess there’s something to say about that. A couple of them really have copied Cher’s clothes just line for line, beat for beat, which is interesting. It’s like, whatever. I did those [designs] so many years ago that I don’t worry about them being copied or anything. It’s kind of a compliment, really.”
This story originally appeared in Vanity Fair.
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