After Kim Kardashian Inspired Debate Over Wearing Marilyn Monroe's Dress, Its Designer Bob Mackie Finally Spoke Out

screenshot of Kim Kardashian on Netflix's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
(Image credit: Netflix)

Kim Kardashian dropped jaws when she appeared on the red carpet at the Met Gala wearing Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress worn by the actress when she sang her sultry “Happy birthday, Mr. President,” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. While the Hulu reality star certainly sparked reactions by borrowing the priceless dress from Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, not all of the feedback was good. Now, legendary designer Bob Mackie, who drew the original sketch for the gown, has weighed in, and he’s not pleased either.

Kim Kardashian worked hard for her Met Gala moment, as she revealed that she had to lose 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into the Jean Louis gown. Many fans loved that she was honoring the blonde bombshell Monroe, who died just months after singing to Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. Others, however, did not agree with her decision to wear the actual outfit, as opposed to only the replicas, and that includes Bob Mackie, who told EW:

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.

Bob Mackie was just 23 years old when he designed the statement piece for Marilyn Monroe while he worked as an assistant to Jean Louis. He agreed with historians that Kim Kardashian’s wearing the gown was damaging to its preservation and structural integrity. Relics such as the classic dress are usually kept in very controlled environments, making it risky to expose the gown to the elements, such as light, humidity, makeup, perfume and even oxygen.

Other critics didn’t like the precedent Kim Kardashian’s actions set, and worried that people in the art and conservation community might be pressured to allow other historic garments to be worn.

Kim Kardashian at the 2022 Met Gala

(Image credit: Noam Galai / Contributor)

Marilyn Monroe is the subject of the upcoming biopic Blonde, which stars Ana de Armas as the actress. It is the first Netflix original production to receive a rating of NC-17, though it’s not known yet exactly what content makes it worthy of such a designation, since “some sexual content” is pretty vague. It's presumed that the streaming project won't feature the authentic Monroe dress that Kardashian wore, but it's certainly possible. 

Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala ensemble by far wasn’t her first wardrobe choice to draw attention. Lately she’s been rocking dresses we just don’t understand, which coincidentally share the same nude shade that made Marilyn Monroe’s gown tantalizing back in the 1960s. At least we know how that dress stayed on, unlike Kardashian’s more gravity-defying pieces. The reality star also recently revealed that her 2021 Met Gala dress — a head-to-toe black Balenciaga — got in the way of her and now-boyfriend Pete Davidson exchanging numbers ahead of her guest-hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live

These days you can keep up with the reality star and her whole famous family on their new series The Kardashians, available for streaming with a Hulu subscription. New episodes are released each Thursday. As many shows continue to wrap up their spring seasons, be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what premieres are coming soon to TV and streaming.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.