Sorry, Kim — Marilyn Monroe's Iconic Dress Should Have Never Been Worn Again

Taylor Sakellis
marilyn monroe in 1962 singing happy birthday to JFK
Getty Images | Bettmann

In the days and weeks following the Met Gala, it seems all anyone can talk about is Kim Kardashian's dress. Once worn by Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe while performing at President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday celebration in 1962, the dress sat untouched for nearly 60 years.

Sadly for many historians and Marilyn fans alike, the dress was given to Kim Kardashian to wear to the Met Gala earlier this month.

Not only was the dress not on theme, but its use upset a lot of people. Many have spoken out about Kim's decision to wear the gown and have explained why a seemingly simple choice proved to be a big mistake.

One of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic moments happened in the spring of 1962.

Even those who don't consider themselves historians or a Marilyn Monroe fans are most likely aware of the blonde bombshell's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday" for President John F. Kennedy.

It's an iconic pop culture moment. It was the only version of Happy Birthday that ever mattered.

Part of what made that moment so jaw-dropping was Marilyn's gauzy gown.

marilyn monroe singing happy birthday to JFK

Based on a design by a young Bob Mackie and custom-made by French costumier Jean Louis, the sparkly frock was inspired by stage costumes Jean had made for Marlene Dietrich and her Las Vegas cabaret in the '50s.

The electrifying moment that she rids herself of her fur cover-up and flicks the microphone right before singing to the President was one of the most memorable moments in American history.

The gown was rumored to be so tight Marilyn couldn't wear anything underneath and had to be physically sewn into it before the performance. If you watch the video closely, you'll notice Marilyn can't really walk properly in the gown and had pretty restricted leg movements.

marilyn monroe in 1962 singing happy birthday to JFK
Getty Images | Brettman

It's almost like the gown was made just for her...

The hand-sewn crystals were enough to catch the eye of everyone in the audience at Madison Square Garden that night. The dress was sold for a whopping $1.26 MILLION in 1999 to New York-based Gotta Have It! Collectibles.

In 2016, the dress exchanged hands and went to Ripley's Believe It Or Not for a STAGGERING $4.8 million.

The dress's new home was the Orlando-based museum, which also featured the original Bob Mackie sketch as part of the display.

All was well in the world until fans noticed something very familiar about Kim's 2022 Met Gala look.

Showing up with boyfriend Pete Davidson, Kim was wearing Marilyn's 60-year-old dress. She was the second person to ever wear the dress.

kim kardashian met gala red carpet marilyn monroe dress
Giphy | E!

While many of Kim's fans thought she looked great (which to be fair, she totally did) others were quick to point out how wrong it was for someone to be wearing such an iconic garment.

Kim told Vogue how she prepared to wear Marilyn's custom dress which required her to lose 16 pounds in three weeks, which turned into an entirely different conversation on social media.

"I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein," she explained.

"I didn't starve myself, but I was so strict."

Thankfully, Kim only wore the gown for a matter of moments to walk the red carpet, changing out of it and into an exact replica before entering the gala portion of the night.

She went on to say she understands the garment's importance to American history and would never want to offend anyone.

kim kardashian met gala red carpet in marilyn monroe's dress
Getty Images | Sean Zanni

"I'm extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history," she explained.

"I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won't be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do," Kim said.

"Everything had to be specifically timed and I had to practice walking up the stairs."

One of the first to speak about the look was professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Dr. Justine De Young.

Speaking with People, Dr. Young said the look was "irresponsible and unnecessary."

"She can –– and did –– commission a replica which would be indistinguishable from the original," Dr. Young explained.

kim kardashian and pete davidson met red carpet
Giphy | E!

"Such an iconic piece of American history should not be put at risk of damage just for an ego-boost and photo-op."

Also speaking with People was Marilyn historian Scott Fortner, who insisted Marilyn would not be happy with someone copying her look.

"When Marilyn knew she'd be performing at President John F. Kennedy's birthday gala she contacted Louis and said, 'I want you to design a truly historical dress, a dazzling dress that's one of a kind.' She asked that it be a dress that, 'only Marilyn Monroe could wear,' " he said.

"Marilyn stood nude as the fabric for the dress was literally sculpted to her body to precisely match every curve. The fabric, which is a flesh-colored soufflé gauze imported from France, was layered strategically so she wouldn't need to wear undergarments," he continued.

It's no secret that Marilyn's life was filled with struggle.

marilyn monroe waving out her window

From growing up in poverty with parents who weren't able to properly care for her to being sexually exploited by Hollywood, Marilyn was a gentle soul who didn't get the respect and praise she deserved for what an intelligent and compassionate person she was. She battled mental health issues, toxic marriages, and exploitation before her untimely death on August 4th, 1962.

In contrast, Kim Kardashian grew up wealthy with both parents present in her life.

The only similarity she and Marilyn share are their statuses as sex symbols.

To be clear, I'm not here to insult Kim Kardashian. Regardless of how you feel about the Kardashian family, there is no denying their impact on pop culture and their relevancy in modern society.

The truth is no one should have worn this piece of fashion and cultural history, no matter who they are!

Many historians have spoken out about Ripley's decision to let Kim wear the iconic dress. Most recently, dress designer Bob Mackie spoke out about it, and spoiler alert, he wasn't too impressed.

The 82-year-old told Entertainment Weekly that Kim wearing the dress was a big mistake — huge!

"[Marilyn] was a goddess. A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous," he said.

marilyn monroe singing happy birthday mr president

"Nobody photographs like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her," Bob argued. "Nobody else should be seen in that dress."

Well, there you have it folks!