Bob Mackie Says Letting Kim Kardashian Wear Marilyn Monroe’s Dress Was “a Big Mistake”

When Kim Kardashian decided to wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic naked dress to the Met Gala earlier this month, she faced a whole lot of criticism over her choice to take such a historically significant garment out for a night. But perhaps none was as sharply worded as that from Bob Mackie, one of the original designers of the dress.

Mackie is the legendary costume designer responsible for drawing the original sketch for the 1962 gown when he was just 23 years old and working as an assistant to fashion designer Jean Louis, who was responsible for actually constructing the garment out of silk soufflé — a highly flammable fabric that gives the dress its nude illusion effect. 

When asked about the reality star’s decision to revive one of his most famous creations on the red carpet, Mackie told Entertainment Weekly, “I thought it was a big mistake. [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.” 

In fact, the dress wasn’t just designed for Monroe, but was actually dyed to match her exact skin tone and was sewn onto her body prior to her infamous performance of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at Madison Square Garden.

Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress is displayed at the Christie’s Auction House in Beverly Hills, California, in 1999.Scott Nelson/AFP via Getty Images

Mackie’s thoughts echo concerns from some historians who claimed that even just the act of Kardashian putting the dress on her body was enough to cause damage to its future preservation and structural integrity. TCM host Alicia Malone also explained to the outlet that “there are all the issues with the actual preservation of the dress and things like oxygen can affect a dress. Usually, these outfits are kept very much in controlled environments and we see that with the Met. The Costume Institute is so careful about how they are handling these historic items. So, it was quite alarming that she was able to wear it. I personally wish she wore a replica instead of the real thing.”

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