Kim Kardashian’s decision to wear Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ dress to the Met Gala in May is again under scrutiny, with many netizens including a Monroe historian suggesting she damaged the dress .
Kardashian borrowed the dress from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, which bought it at an auction in 2016 for $4.8 million. Designed by Jean Louis, the dress was originally worn by Monroe while raising funds for President John F. Kennedy’s birthday in 1962. The dress is “now valued at over $10 million”, according to Ripley’s.
On Wednesday, Scott Fortner, a Monroe historian who oversees the Marilyn Monroe Collection, which collects the actor’s personal possessions and archives, shared several photos on Instagram that appear to show the condition of the dress before and after the Met Gala. .
“Without a doubt, the damage is extensive,” Fortner wrote in a post, noting that there are “crystals missing, and some left hanging by a thread” in the following image. The image was sent to her by ChadMichael Morrisette, who snapped it while it was on display at Ripley’s Hollywood on June 12.
Fortner did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Morrisette confirmed to NBC News that he took the photo at Ripley’s Museum in Hollywood on Sunday and sent it to Fortner.
“On both sides of the zipper, the fabric was completely frayed like shredded chicken,” said Morrisette, a visual artist and costume expert who said he helped exhibit the dress for the 2016 auction at which Ripley had bought it.
There was also visible stress and missing sequins in the back of the dress, according to Morrisette, who called the damage he saw “shocking”.
“I’ve seen this dress over the years and worked with it myself, and knew immediately there was irreparable damage.”
A spokesperson for Ripley’s did not respond to request for comment or to verify that this is an up-to-date image of the dress. The Ripley’s Hollywood website states that visitors have access to “Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia” but does not specify what is on display. An employee of the Hollywood site confirmed by phone that the dress was currently there, but referred NBC News to the public relations team for further information and comment.
Images shared by Fortner appearing to show damage to the dress drew criticism on social media this week, with some reigniting their disapproval of Kardashian’s fashion choice. A Kardashian spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“The reason it’s so upsetting that Kim Kardashian ruined Marilyn Monroe’s dress isn’t really about the dress,” one person said. tweeted tuesday. “It’s that Marilyn was such a smart and kind woman who was used, abused and exploited all her life and even in death she is still so despised”
Others posted pictures of other unrelated famous clothes, like Björk’s swan dress, joking that it was “another Kim Kardashian ruined dress.”
Ripley said in a blog post after the Met Gala that there were hesitations that Kardashian wore the dress initially, given that it had “rarely been separated from its dress form, let alone worn by anyone. ‘one other than Monroe’.
“Great care has been taken to preserve this piece of history,” the museum wrote. “With input from garment curators, appraisers, archivists and insurance, the Ripleys and Kim knew they could make this unique opportunity a reality. Agreeing that the condition of the garment was the top priority, it was agreed that no modification was to be made to the dress.”
The museum also said that because preserving the historic dress was “the highest priority,” Kardashian only wore the original dress for her carpet appearance.
Kardashian told Vogue that she only wore “the original dress for a few minutes” and put on the dress herself in a special dressing room at the foot of the Met Gala steps, with the help from a Ripley environmentalist. On the red carpet, she told Vogue that she lost 16 pounds to fit into the dress. “It was such a challenge, it felt like a role. I was determined to fit it.
…the best way to prevent damage to a historical collection is to not wear it.
-Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art
Sarah Scaturro, a former conservator at the Met’s Costume Institute, said “there were unavoidable risks in wearing historic clothing like Monroe’s dress – no matter how many preventative measures were in place”.
Scaturro, now chief curator of Eric and Jane Nord at the Cleveland Museum of Art, said she saw images of the alleged damage to the dress online, but did not examine it herself. even in person.
In general, she says, “Historical clothing is fragile, especially embellished silk like Monroe’s in particular, and the best way to preserve an object is to prevent damage, and the best way to prevent damage that occurs. found in a historical collection is not to wear this.”
It’s important to protect these garments from environmental changes such as sunlight, humidity and temperature because of their fragile fibers, she said.
Scaturro said she hopes celebrities and fashion archivists will think more carefully about how they use historical clothing in their custody in the future.
“Historical clothing is fragile, and wearing it involves risk. The risks are very real, and damage can occur that is irreversible,” Scaturro said. “You can repair the damage, but it will still be damaged.”