Thursday, 12 May 2022

It Was Not Hers To Wear! A Rant

It was sixty years ago this month. I remember seeing in on our little black and white TV. Harold Macmillan was the British Prime Minister, and he looked like a grumpy old headmaster - but in the USA, John F Kennedy was the handsome, smiling President, and his wife Jackie seemed so glamorous to this little schoolgirl [we were living up in West Hartlepool, in a little terraced house] I wanted to wear a powder blue coat, and a pillbox hat, and shiny stiletto heels when I grew up...And then we saw JFKs birthday - and Marilyn Monroe, the beautiful film star, sang "Happy Birthday Mr President". The clip has been shown thousands of times since. Within 6 months, Marilyn was dead, and the following year, November 63,  JFK was assassinated. Rumours continue to abound about the nature of their relationship. I was too young to understand then - these were just glamorous people on the other side of the world. But somehow I was mesmerised by that song. And that sparkly, close fitting dress 

I knew that after the performance, the dress was put away - not even washed! and six years ago "Ripley's Believe it or Not" museum in Florida acquired it at auction for $4.8M. It was an iconic piece of fashion history. As someone who likes costume and films and history, I think it is important to preserve clothing which has a story behind it. I also know that when you put on a garment, even briefly, you change it - your sweat and body oils leave residue on the fabric, your movement can strain seams, pull the material in a different way, fingernails can catch on threads...
Precious historical items like these are kept carefully in Museums for this reason - in carefully controlled environments, so future generations can enjoy them. Museums like "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute New York" for example. Museum are expensive to maintain - every year this one holds the MetGala as a fundraiser  to help preserve their artefacts. 
So can somebody explain to me the thinking behind letting Kim Kardashian wear Marilyn's dress last week? The woman was the wrong size and the wrong shape. Footage has been posted on line of her being tugged into the dress - and she had to drape a fur behind her to cover the gap wear the zip would not fasten.
I know nothing about KK other than that appearance is important to her. 

Surely somebody involved in all this had some sort of cognitive dissonance?
Who ever thought it was a good idea to deliberately inflict damage on a significant historical piece of costume in order to raise money for preserving other pieces? 

Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer [who made a number of Princess Di's memorable frocks] was asked about it. She said something like "I'd like to think that our grandchildren studying history will be able to see the video clip, alongside a mannequin in the dress. Letting somebody wear it and damage it was a Very Bad Idea" I tend to agree.


15 comments:

  1. It's bonkers! The Kardashians seem to me to be all about the publicity.

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  2. I have always thought that one of Marilyn Monroe's finest achievements was to sing Happy Birthday to JFK. "...Mr President.." is a full five syllables which is more than usually resorted to when singing Happy Birthday to someone.

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  3. The antics of celebrities these days is frequently beyond the pale. (They probably always have been.) I tend to agree with you, the dress is unique and priceless and deserves more respect. A huge ego trip for KK but a sad day for good manners. She could have well afforded a replica which would have fitted properly, raised money and without causing any damage to the original.

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    1. As I understand it ,she HAD a perfect replica made, in order to make sure that she had lost enough weight to fit into the original. She could have worn that instead

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    2. That makes the whole thing even more bizarre!

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  4. This kind of behaviour speaks volumes about the overblown egos of such people as KK, and their unbelievable sense of entitlement.

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  5. Agree! Don't even get me started on the Kardashian's and the craze for reality television here in the states. I have a hard time understanding the fascination with these type of shows. I tell my husband that I have enough drama in my own life so why would I need to watch someone else's? lol

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  6. I don't know if I'd call that particular dress to be an item of historical significance. Now, the outfit that Mrs. Kennedy wore on the day when her husband was shot, which was splattered with his blood, etc., would be what I'd call an item of historical significance. Those items are stored in the National Archives; her daughter made a deed of gift of them, in 2003, with the stipulation that they will not be available for public viewing for 100 years.

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    1. I do completely agree with you about the significance of Jackie's pink suit, splashed with JFKs blood. And I respect Caroline's decision to gift it to the nation. But I think the iconic Marilyn dress is also a part of the Kennedy story - of lesser importance perhaps, but still deserving to be preserved properly.

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  7. Each to their own, but I find it hard to respect the Kardashians, and that was damage to an historical artefact. Is she going to take a hammer to the Liberty Bell?

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