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Vintage or Vulgar? Met Gala Madness and the Power of Marilyn Monroe’s Dress

Marilyn Monroe wearing the iconic Happy Birthday Mr President dress

I was stunned reading on Sky News that, “Kim Kardashian showed just how powerful she is,”  by turning up at New York’s Met Gala in the $5 million dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang Happy Birthday to President John F Kennedy in 1962. 

Sky added that this was “one of pop culture’s most iconic moments.” 

Or was it just copying a true legend? 

I’m trying to get my head around even mentioning one of the Kardashian clan when my main focus is on slow fashion. But I would like to comment on the vintage Marilyn dress and express a different view to the one in the mainstream press. 

The sort of over-the-top-vulgar dresses seen at the Met Gala are evidence the event has little to do with fashion and is mainly a vehicle for celebrity PR stunts like the one pulled off by la Kardashian. It’s a shame this formal occasion and the dresses worn rarely promote environmental responsibility, or the advantages of wearing pre-loved clothing, preferring to honour an excess of money and a lack of taste. However, perhaps influenced by the atrocities of war, the ‘Gilded Glamour’ theme was shunned by many, who chose to wear black. 

The historic gown borrowed by the reality star was apparently flown with minders from its temperature controlled vault at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando, Florida to Kim’s home in California, before presumably travelling back with her to New York. On a private jet? How many air miles is that? Then, after wearing it to arrive at the Gala, according to some sources, she changed into a newly made replica. 

There is nothing individual about Kim’s choice of dress, except that it was probably the most valuable item of clothing on the red carpet. It's debatable whether the dress suited Kardashian’s newly slimmed down figure, or her skin tone. The original dress was more alluring on Monroe’s natural-looking, less supported and gently rounded body.

Marilyn Monroe was a woman with vulnerabilities, who spun out of control. The Kardashian family is a money making media machine, and Kim is in full command of her financial muscle. It’s sad this “power” is used to drag women back to being objectified as sex symbols. Marilyn Monroe had a rare and magnetic talent, and she craved to be respected as a serious actress. But can women be taken seriously if they are reduced purely to their appearance? Could Kim’s “power” be re-directed to more responsible and worthwhile causes than simply drawing attention to her latest makeover?

How do you feel about Kim being given the opportunity to wear a dress of such provenance? Is this an example of wearing vintage, or is it just plain vulgar?

Let me know what you think.

Will you?

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