When Kim Kardashian made the decision to don Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress to the Met Gala red carpet last month, it ruffled more than a few feathers.
Now, a Monroe collector is claiming that the dress has sustained “permanent damage” as a result, and frustrations have been renewed.
Kardashian wore the gown to the Met Gala last month – she and boyfriend Pete Davidson were among the last to walk the red carpet and Kardashian shocked onlookers when she stepped out in the iconic dress Monroe wore to serenade John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday in 1962.
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Scott Fortner, a collector who works to authenticate and verify Monroe memorabilia, shared photos of the dress taken last week that appear to show stretched and buckling fabric, along with missing crystals or ones “left hanging by a thread.”
“So much for keeping ‘the integrity of the dress and the preservation.’ @ripleysbelieveitornot , was it worth it?” he wrote.
The dress, which has belonged to Ripley’s Believe It or Not since they bought it at auction in 2016 for US$4.8 million, was only worn for a short time by Kardashian, who changed into a replica dress after walking the red carpet.
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Ripley’s defended their decision in a post to Instagram in May.
“Great care was taken to preserve this piece of pop culture history. With input from garment conservationists, appraisers, and archivists, the garment’s condition was top priority,” the museum wrote at the time.
Pop Crave shared side-by-side photos that give more context to the alleged damage.
Controversy has surrounded Kardashian’s decision to wear the dress, as conservators and socialites took to social media at the time to express their disappointment.
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Sarah Scarturro, the former head of the Met’s fashion conservation department, took to Instagram at the time to blast those involved.
“I had to pause before I posted this because I am so angry. #kimkardashian wearing Marilyn’s historic and iconic dress is unethical,” she wrote.
“Now fashion conservators, collection managers, and curators are going to suffer under pressure from fancy powerful rich people who think they should be able to wear objects in costume collections since after all ‘it’s just a dress’ rather than irreplaceable fragile material culture.”
Bob Mackie, the designer responsible for the original sketches of the dress, told Entertainment Weekly back in May that the dress “was designed for (Marilyn Monroe). Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”
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Even the International Council of Museums (ICOM) weighed in, posting in a statement that “historic garments should not be worn by anybody, public or private figures.”
“Prevention is better than cure. Wrong treatment will destroy an object forever,” ICOM wrote in May.
To make matters worse, Kardashian admitted that she did not fit into the dress at the first fitting and went on a crash diet to lose 16 pounds over the course of three weeks. She had to carry a fur stole on the red carpet as the dress would not close completely in the back.
In a followup post, The Marilyn Monroe Collection Instagram shared a video of Monroe’s dress taken before Kardashian wore it, responding to those doubting how much damage had actually been done.
“To anyone who may be questioning the actual condition of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress prior to being purchased by @ripleysbelieveitornot or implying that low quality photos of the dress were shared to somehow make the newly discovered damage to the dress seem worse than it actually is, this is 4K video that I took of the gown while it was on display at @juliens_auctions in November of 2016,” the account captioned its post. “Without question, the damage is significant.”
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