If unnecessary were an event, Kim Kardashian receiving redundant backlash for wearing Marylin Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr. President dress would be the first thing that comes to mind.
Earlier this spring, the theme of the Met Gala was Gilded Glamour. Referring to the transformative era within American history, the Gilded Age was a time in America when industrialization and the economy were growing at a rapid rate between the years 1870-1900. More on this can be read on Black Pepper Magazine.
Every first Monday in May, New York’s Metropolitan, also known as the Met, hosts an evening filled with the past year’s A-list and up-in-coming celebrities. It gives fashion houses an excuse to dress the it-boys-and-girls in beautiful garments.
The Met, run by Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, is one of New York’s most glamorous nights. It’s to no surprise that you would see one of the most iconic families within pop culture show up to the event.
Kim Kardashian, her sisters and “momager”, Kris Jenner, are no strangers to the Met. Kim Kardashian made her Met Gala debut in 2013 with her now ex-husband, Kanye West, after beating the allegations of supposedly being banned from the Met. She showed up to the event pregnant wearing a floral Givenchy dress. Since then, Kim has appeared at every Met Gala since 2013 representing the Kardashian name.
Kim is no stranger to controversy, as you all may know, but why was her look from the 2022 “Gilded Glamor” Met Gala so distasteful?
If you’re unaware of Old Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, you must live under a rock. So, here’s a quick history lesson. Marilyn Monroe was THEE it-girl before there were it-girls. From being a world-renowned sex symbol, her “Flying Dress” photoshoot and her iconic blonde curly pageboy haircut, Marilyn Monroe is a staple within American culture and Hollywood History. She was a pioneer of woman’s sexual revolution within media. Marilyn Monroe is an icon and Hollywood legend.
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn entered New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Lauren Le Vine of Vanity Fair stated, “When she took the stage at Madison Square Garden, she removed her white ermine coat to reveal a backless flesh-colored Jean Louis dress dripping with rhinestones in a rosette motif she’d been sewn into it at the last minute.” Marilyn’s odd choice of fashion for this charity event disguised as John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday party was one for the books. At the time, wearing a skin-tight sheer dress in public was not acceptable. So you can imagine the audience’s surprise when she took off her coat to reveal the iconic garment. It was the original naked dress. It was a provocative mockery of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, who were suspected of having had an affair throughout Kennedy’s term.
Monroe would have greatly appreciated Kim’s rise to stardom. Furthermore, it is no surprise why Kim chose to wear Monroe’s dress to this year’s Met Gala.
Nonetheless, how do these two sex symbols from two completely different decades within Hollywood history relate?
When Kim stepped foot on the Met’s red carpet, social media blew up raving about her dress. Kim Kardashian made the bold decision to wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday Mr. President” pairing it similarly to the late old Hollywood actress by wearing a white fur shawl. She also bleached her hair platinum blonde and wore it in a slick back for the event but the physical modifications didn’t end there.
Kim Kardashian tried on a replica of the Monroe dress before putting on the actual garment. The replica fit perfectly. However, to her surprise, when she tried on the actual dress, it was way too tight.
In any other situation, she would have been able to get the dress altered. It was untouchable as it was a one-of-a-kind dress that was shaped by Marilyn Monroe herself.
This caused Kim to take on a strict diet to fit into the dress, taking eating measures that would leave other people with serious long-term health problems.
There were two different reactions people gave to this incident. On one end, what Kim did could be taken seriously. On the other end, what she did can be concluded as downright stupid.
If we analyze the event, Kim took these measures to wear a dress of a late celebrity, just to have to take the dress off minutes after walking the Met carpet and put on the same replica that she was able to fit into perfectly the first time. Then, to be bashed on social media and criticized for wearing such an impactful and staple piece within American history. Not to mention, one would say that she indirectly influenced and contributed to the harsh reality of diet culture by taking these bizarre measures.
If we take what happened with a grain of salt, we could simply say that Kim’s entire process to wear the dress was one of the most idiotic processes to have been documented.
Kim wore a similarly styled dress to the same event two years earlier at the “Camp: Notes on Fashion” themed Met Gala. She wore a skin-tight body con dress with crystals hanging from it to give off a “wet” look. Truly, my favorite look out of Kim Kardashian’s entire Met Gala catalog. She wore a skin tight dress designed by Mugler with crystal beads to resemble a “dripping wet” look. Mugler actually cam out of a 17 year hiatus to create this look for Kim, making the look even more iconic.
On top of her looking the same at this year’s Met, the way she styled the dress was a genuine distaste for the iconic 1960s look.
I could imagine her team thought it would be better to go with something more minimalist with her makeup and hair, allowing the dress to truly be the main attraction. Kim chose to go basic to a theme that is about showing off your wealth in extravagant ways. One of those ways is through hair and makeup, but Kim chose to do the opposite of what was thematically advised, which was honestly a disservice to the theme.
I also believe that Kim Kardashian could have taken this moment to showcase her brand. Her brand, Skims, is known for selling pieces like the one she wore. Skims pride’s itself on it’s minimalistic shapewear attire. I believe that Kim could have used this chance to show the versatility of her brand. She could have partnered with another big designer house associated with the Met, allowing her to create a look that could have been more on the theme, less controversial and also ensuring her seat at the Met Gala this year.
Although there is a correlation between Marilyn Monroe and Kim Kardashian as they are both iconic figures within pop culture. This “Ode to Old Hollywood” look was nothing short of a joke and could have easily been avoided. I would advise Kim to do better next time but we all know that’s not going to happen.