The full backstory on how Kim Kardashian was able to borrow the Marilyn Monroe dress

Kim Kardashian once again dominated the fashion spotlight in New York on Monday Met Gala when she appeared in this dressthe true transparent and beaded illusion dress by Jean Louis which Marilyn Monroe famous on May 19, 1962, when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.

As controversy swirls in the days that follow – with sharp criticism from museum curators about the ethics of a collecting institution lending a piece of fashion history to wear on a red carpet – The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the executives of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (who owns the dress) and Julien’s Auctions (who handled its sale and connected Kardashian with Ripley’s) for the full story of the genesis of this 2022 Met Gala. They also touched on the measures they took to make sure the dress was not damaged.

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“We kept quiet for two months, and I found out on Saturday that everything was confirmed,” notes Darren Julien, founder and president/CEO of Los Angeles-based Julien’s Auctions, which sold the dress for the record. setting the price of $4.81 million in 2016. Kardashian and her mother, Kris Jenner, are longtime customers of Julien’s Auctions: In 2019, Kardashian placed the winning bid on a velvet jacket once worn by Michael Jackson, bought as a Christmas present for her daughter. , North, who was six at the time. “It was a fun relationship with Kris and Kim,” added Julien. “They are real fans of the auction process and get really excited when they are the winning bidder.”

So when Kardashian wondered if the current owners of the dress might be receptive to her desire to wear the historic design to the Met Gala, she reached out to Julien in late February to ask him to act as a go-between. “The first reaction from the owner was: ‘We have a replica dress, she could wear it’ and I said: ‘Kim doesn’t do replicas’”, recalls Julien.

“We have people calling all the time asking us to borrow things, and the answer is almost always no,” says Amanda Joiner, vice president of publishing and licensing for Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment. which operates Ripley’s Believe It or Not. ! museums across the United States and was the winning bidder for the Monroe dress in 2016. “We were intrigued to hear what Kim was thinking, but it was never an automatic yes. Many conversations took place once the idea came to us.

Kardashian and her team held several meetings with the Ripley Entertainment team, including John Corcoran, the company’s president. Parameters were strictly established, including the limited amount of time Kardashian would wear the dress – only for her walk on the carpeted steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Monroe’s dress also could not be altered in any way, and body makeup was prohibited. Early in the process, Kardashian also tried on the replica dress, painstakingly created by a seamstress Ripley shortly after the company acquired the historic dress, primarily to gauge whether the reality star would fit into the original.

A look at Monroe's dress in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!  in 2018 - Credit: Liliane Lathan/Getty Images

A sneak peek of Monroe’s dress at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in 2018 – Credit: Liliane Lathan/Getty Images

Liliane Lathan/Getty Images

The replica matched and was actually a bit large. With all the criteria met, Joiner boarded a plane for Los Angeles at the end of March, carrying the dress in her hand with her. “Among the dots [agreed upon in allowing Kardashian to wear the dress] was that a representative from Ripley had to stay with the dress at all times, while Kim also requested that a woman from our team work with her, especially given the private nature of fitting the dress said Joiner.

There was just one problem: the original didn’t match. “The replica dress was measured to be the exact same size, but it’s a newer stretch fabric, and that was probably the difference,” Joiner says, adding that Kardashian was able to put the dress on, although she made the call that “I didn’t feel comfortable with the integrity of being able to walk in the dress or climb the stairs.

That didn’t stop Kardashian, who asked Ripley’s team to give her a few weeks to slim down and fit in with the original. On the Met Gala red carpet, Kardashian told La La Anthony, co-host of vogue‘s Met Gala livestream, that she needed to lose 16 pounds, so she eliminated sugar and carbohydrates for three weeks from her diet to do so.

(This comment sparked backlash among body positivity advocates, including actress Lili Reinhart, who followed her Instagram story decrying celebrities highlighting the sudden weight loss with a tweet from May 4 in which she noted, “I’m speaking up because I don’t see enough people with big platforms speaking out against toxic behavior in our industry.” Kardashian’s trainer, Don-A-Matrix, Talk with TMZ on May 4, defended her client, saying she had lost weight through a balanced diet and exercise. “It’s possible to lose 20 pounds the healthy way,” he said.)

“Kim was very determined,” adds Julien. “I don’t think she had a lot of backups for that night. She really wanted it to be the dress.

On April 23, Kardashian flew to Orlando to determine if her efforts had worked, and this time the dress fitted well, although Joiner and Corcoran also asked Kardashian to climb stairs in the dress to assess its integrity. . “We also needed to talk about it internally,” says Joiner. “We needed to make sure that security was in place, that all of our needs would be met in terms of transporting the dress, and that there would be no wearing of the dress other than the red carpet moment. ” To that end, a tent area adjacent to the red carpet has been set up exclusively as Kardashian’s dressing room. After her walk on the red carpet, Kardashian went from the original to the replica of Ripley, who was waiting backstage, as soon as she was inside the doors of the museum, adds Joiner.

Before changing into a dress at the museum, Kardashian’s hair and makeup were done in a suite at a nearby hotel. To commemorate this moment, Ripley’s decorated her dressing room with a selection of Monroe memorabilia, including the icon’s makeup bag (with her makeup still inside), a poster advertising the 1962 party for Kennedy, and the original dress sketch, created by Bob Mackie , who was working as a draftsman for Jean Louis at the time.

Within hours of Kardashian’s high-powered appearance, Joiner and Julien heard and read the comments about the star wearing the historic piece. “I certainly received emails,” says Julien. Critics include the Cleveland Museum of Art’s chief curator, Sarah Scaturro, formerly curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. “In the 1980s, a group of costume professionals came together to issue a resolution that historical costume should not be worn. So I’m concerned that colleagues in historical costume collections will be pressured by important people to let them wear clothes,” Scaturro told the Los Angeles Time.

Joiner confirms that the post-event reaction among other restaurateurs was anticipated and discussed in advance. “Our priority has always been to protect the integrity of the dress,” she says. “But we also saw it as an opportunity to reach a new generation, to educate a younger audience and [Kim’s] fanbase on a historic moment in fashion, a moment they might not otherwise experience. In this regard, we have done our job.

Julian accepts. “It was on the red carpet for such a short time, and for the legacy of Marilyn Monroe, it’s one of the best things that could have happened,” he says. “Kim will create a new generation of Marilyn Monroe fans from this moment on.”

This Memorial Day weekend, existing and new fans will have the chance to see the original dress in person, when Ripley’s Believe It or Not! will debut a new exhibit of the dress at its Hollywood museum. In addition to artifacts that include Bob Mackie’s sketch and Monroe’s makeup bag, Ripley’s will include in the exhibit both the shawl and the shoes (the Adore Open Toe Platform Mule with a seven-inch heel from California-based Brea Pleaser) that Kardashian wore to the Met Gala.

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