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Bob Mackie: ‘It was a big mistake’ to let Kim Kardashian wear Marilyn Monroe’s dress

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Bob Mackie: ‘It was a big mistake’ to let Kim Kardashian wear Marilyn Monroe’s dress

Famed designer Bob Mackie says it was a ‘big mistake’ to allow Kim Kardashian to wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Happy Birthday Mr President dress to this year’s Met Gala – six decades after he drew the sketch for the original design. 

The 82-year-old described the decision to allow Kardashian, 41, to model the legendary dress at the star-studded event as ‘alarming’, insisting that ‘nobody else should be seen it’. 

‘I thought it was a big mistake,’ he told Entertainment Weekly. ‘[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.’

Designer Bob Mackie – who drew the original sketch for Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr President dress – says it was a ‘big mistake’ to let Kim Kardashian wear it to the Met Gala 

Mackie, now 82, was just 23 years old and working as an assistant to designer Jean Louis when he drew the first sketch for the dress, which Monroe wore on May 19, 1962 (pictured)

Mackie, now 82, was just 23 years old and working as an assistant to designer Jean Louis when he drew the first sketch for the dress, which Monroe wore on May 19, 1962 (pictured) 

'I thought it was a big mistake,' Mackie (seen in 2020) told EW. '[Marilyn] was a goddess... She was just fabulous... Nobody else should be seen in that dress'

‘I thought it was a big mistake,’ Mackie (seen in 2020) told EW. ‘[Marilyn] was a goddess… She was just fabulous… Nobody else should be seen in that dress’

Kardashian was loaned the historic nude-colored glittering gown by officials at museum chain Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, where the 60-year-old dress has been stored in a temperature-controlled environment since it was bought for a record-breaking $5million in 2016.

Mackie was just 23 years old when he sketched the original design for the dress while working as an assistant to fashion legend Jean Louis, who created the gown especially for Monroe to wear when she performed Happy Birthday for then-President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962. 

This is not the first time that he has spoken out to criticize members of the Kardashian family; in November 2021, the designer – who moved on from his role as Louis’ assistant to become a major fashion player in his own right – hit out at the reality stars for being ‘famous for being famous’. 

He also accused the celebrity siblings of ‘copying’ designs that he created for singer Cher over the years, telling Page Six: ‘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.’

As well as insisting that Monroe was the only person who should ever have worn the dress, Mackie also raised concerns about the damage that could have been done to the legendary gown during the Met Gala – joining a long list of fashion historians and costume experts who have decried the decision to allow the delicate piece to be brought out of its carefully preserved storage. 

One such critic was author Michelle Morgan, who has penned several books about Monroe’s life, blasted the decision to let the glamorous frock be worn again in a red carpet environment, saying it could have damaged the gown with ‘sweat’ and ‘makeup’. 

The designer insisted that 'nobody else should be seen in the dress', pointing out that it was created especially for Monroe to wear when she sang Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy

The designer insisted that 'nobody else should be seen in the dress', pointing out that it was created especially for Monroe to wear when she sang Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy (pictured)

The designer insisted that ‘nobody else should be seen in the dress’, that it was created especially for Monroe to wear when she sang Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy (right)

He also noted there was a real risk of the dress being damaged on the red carpet; Kardashian changed into a replica of the gown before entering the event to avoid it being harmed

He also noted there was a real risk of the dress being damaged on the red carpet; Kardashian changed into a replica of the gown before entering the event to avoid it being harmed

‘I am extremely disappointed to see this 60-year-old, iconic dress being worn in public,’ she told the New York Post shortly after this year’s Met Gala on May 2. 

‘The gown is extremely fragile and has been previously kept in temperature-controlled conditions, but now here it is, not only being worn, but also in a red carpet environment, where anything could have happened to it.’

The dress has been preserved in a temperature-controlled environment since it was purchased by museum chain Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, which purchased the gown for $5 million in 2016

The dress has been preserved in a temperature-controlled environment since it was purchased by museum chain Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, which purchased the gown for $5 million in 2016

Fellow Monroe historian and collector, Scott Fortner, said he was concerned by the dress’ outing because it had been a bespoke design and therefore shouldn’t be worn by anyone else.

Another expert, Dr Justine De Young, agreed that it was a risky decision to wear the dress to such a high profile event.

Speaking to People, the professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York said a copy would have been safer.

Kardashian did in fact have a replica of the dress made, which she changed into before making her way into the actual Met Gala – only wearing the original for her red carpet appearance. 

Speaking to Vogue about her iconic ensemble, Kardashian revealed that she would never risk ‘any damage’ to the gown, and therefore took steps to ensure that she had a back-up option before heading into the event itself. 

‘I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history,’ she said. ‘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.’

Kardashian became the first-ever person to down the gown since it was worn by Monroe in 1962; in the years since, it has been perfectly preserved in a temperature-controlled environment, which is maintained at 68 degrees and has a humidity level of between 40 and 50 per cent at all times. 

Mackie rose from his role as an assistant to Jean Louis to forge his own success as a designer - regularly creating designs for the likes of Lucille Ball and Cher (pictured together in 1985)

Mackie rose from his role as an assistant to Jean Louis to forge his own success as a designer – regularly creating designs for the likes of Lucille Ball and Cher (pictured together in 1985)

In November last year, Mackie hit out at the Kardashians, saying they are 'famous for being famous' and accusing them of 'copying' designs that he has created for Cher (seen in 2021)

In November last year, Mackie hit out at the Kardashians, saying they are ‘famous for being famous’ and accusing them of ‘copying’ designs that he has created for Cher (seen in 2021)

The reality star came under heavy fire after donning the dress to this year’s Met Gala – not only because of the risk of damaging the iconic design, but because she also admitted to losing 16lbs in just three weeks in order to fit in the sparkling piece. 

Mom-of-four Kardashian was accused of ‘promoting extremely unhealthy body standards’ in the wake of the event, having opened up about the intensive weight loss regimen she followed in order to ensure that she would fit into the dress on the night. 

The star said she cried when she realized she didn’t fit into the iconic dress during a first try-on, before revealing that she went on to lose weight just so she could model the dress for mere minutes on the red carpet.

‘I had this idea to put it on and to try it on, and they came with armed guards and gloves. I tried it on and it didn’t fit me, and so I looked at them and said give me like three weeks, and I had to lose 16lbs, down today, to be able to fit this,’ she said during a red carpet livestream.

‘It was such a challenge, it was like a role, I was determined to fit it.’

Kim later told Vogue that she went on a ruthlessly strict diet deadline in order to slim down and wear the dress to the Met, admitting she hadn’t eaten ‘carbs and sugar in three weeks’.

‘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 revealed. ‘I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.’ 

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