The Secrets Of Marilyn Monroe’s Dress That Kim Kardashian Wore

Sixty years after Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in Madison Square Garden, her iconic nude dress is back in the spotlight.

Kim Kardashian, 41, took the dress for a spin at last night’s Met Gala, making her the only person aside from Marilyn to ever wear the dress.

The skin-tight mesh dress, which features more than 6,000 hand-sewn crystals, was part of Monroe’s estate until Anna Strasberg hired Christie’s to sell it in 1999, according to the Daily Mail.

The dress Marilyn Monroe wore while singing "Happy birthday, Mr. President" to U.S. President John F. Kennedy in May 1962 is on display in a glass case at Julien's Auction House on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Ripley believe it or not! The Florida museum bought the dress at a Julien’s Auctions event in 2016 for $4.8 million.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Ripley believe it or not! The Florida museum bought the dress at a Julien’s Auctions event in 2016 for $4.8 million. After taxes and fees, the dress was valued at over $5 million, making it “the most expensive dress in the world” ever sold at auction, Ripley’s told The Post.

The dazzling dress is now valued at over $10 million.

Kim Kardashian attends the 2022 Met Gala celebration "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City.
Kim Kardashian attends the 2022 Met Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City.
Gotham/Getty Images

When Monroe asked costume designer Jean Louis to make a dress for her, she said to him, “I want you to design a truly historical dress, a dazzling dress that is one of a kind, a dress that only Marilyn Monroe could wear. According to Ripley’s.

Bob Mackie drew the original sketch as his first job out of college.

The unlined dress made it impossible for Monroe to wear underwear. The nude color matched her skin tone perfectly, with the crystals strategically placed to cover her.

Actress Marilyn Monroe sings "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on his upcoming 45th birthday.
Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on his 45th birthday.
Bettmann Archive

It was reported that the dress was so tight that Monroe was sewn into the dress seconds before her curtain call. Kim Kardashian admitted she went on a diet to lose 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into the Met Gala dress.

The famous dress survived at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! until the reality star showed up at her Orlando, Fla. headquarters in late April.

Kardashian, a Monroe fan herself, was determined to wear the classic dress.

“The idea really came to me after the gala last September. I figured what would I have done with the American theme if it wasn’t the Balenciaga look? What’s the most American thing you can think of? And that’s Marilyn Monroe,” Kardashian told Vogue.

American actress Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy (left) and John F. Kennedy, New York, New York, May 19, 1962.
Marilyn Monroe stands between Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962 at a party following a Democratic fundraiser at Madison Square Garden in honor of JFK’s birthday, where Monroe famously sang “Happy Birthday.”
Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Of course, Ripley’s was not without hesitation in complying with the request.

Monroe’s performance in the dress is one of the most notable moments of her career, so much has gone into protecting the dress and preserving it in its original form.

Kardashian and the Ripley’s team spoke to clothing protectors, appraisers, archivists and insurers for advice on how to achieve the Met Gala look.

It was agreed that no alterations should be made to the dress to keep it in its current state, prompting Kardashian’s frightening diet.

Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday at the Democratic rally celebrating President John F. Kennedy's birthday.
Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday at the Democratic rally celebrating President John F. Kennedy’s birthday.
Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

“This is Marilyn Monroe’s dress. It’s sixty years old. I had this idea to put it on and try it on,” Kardashian said on the Met red carpet.

“They came with armed guards and gloves. I tried it on and it didn’t fit me. I had to lose 16 pounds,” she added.

Kardashian also dyed her hair platinum blonde to channel the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” singer.

“It was like preparing for a role,” Kardashian told Vogue guest host La La Anthony.

Since preserving the dress was a top priority, Kardashian only wore the original dress for the red carpet. She later turned into a replica.

Although the “Happy Birthday” performance in 1962 sparked rumors of an affair between Monroe and President Kennedy, the real scandal was the dress itself. Its barely-there form was “designed to shock,” and Monroe “tricked organizers into saying she was wearing a high-necked demure dress,” Ripley’s said.

The Ripley’s Exhibits and Archives team believes this dress to be “the most iconic piece of clothing in 20th-century culture” and will feature it on Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hollywood for a limited time starting Memorial Day weekend.

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