At 83, legendary costume designer Bob Mackie — creator of the famous Happy Birthday Mr. President dress for Marilyn Monroe — is still holding nothing.
The brainchild behind many other iconic designs worn by the likes of Carol Burnett, Cher and Judy Garland, he recently doubled his thoughts on Kim Kardashian in this crystal-encrusted gown that Monroe famously wore when she sang to President John F. Kennedy Madison Square Garden in 1962.
“When I heard she was going to wear it, I was like, ‘Oh, no one should be wearing that dress,'” he said city Country in a story published July 15. “It should be in a museum.”
In May, Kardashian sent the internet ablaze when she walked the carpet at the Met Gala in the iconic dress, awarded by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. At the time, Mackie said he thought it was a “big mistake” for the reality star to wear the outfit.
“[Marilyn] was a goddess,” he said Weekly entertainment in May. “A mad goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody takes photos like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for you. Nobody else should be seen in this dress.”
Weeks after the Met Gala, the reality star angered fashion historians and collectors when it was revealed she may have “permanently altered” the dress. Fellow collector ChadMichael Morrisette was among the first to criticize Kardashian and Ripley’s in a post shared on Instagram in the aftermath.
At the time, Morrisette told Yahoo Life that he was shocked to hear Kardashian was allowed to wear the dress. (Both Kardashian and Ripley’s Believe It or Not claim the dress was not damaged.)
“It’s not just a dress. It’s an iconic costume, it’s an iconic dress,” Morrisette told Yahoo Life. “Not only is it the most expensive dress ever sold at auction, it’s really a kind of representation of a time period… So it was really shocking to see that Ripley’s would allow anyone to wear the dress.”
Of course, Monroe’s dress holds a special place in Mackie’s heart, as it was one of his first commissions as a young designer, working with legendary costume designer Edith Head at Paramount and French haute couturier Jean Louis at 20th Century Fox.
“I remember it clearly,” Mackie recalled City Country. “Marilyn called Jean Louis herself and said, ‘I want you to make one of those see-through dresses like you always do.’ He was very famous for it [actress and cabaret singer] Marlene Dietrich’s clothes you could see through on stage. They were pretty sexy but everything was covered.”
At that point, pencil and paper in hand, the designer was illustrating one of the most iconic dresses in American history.
“Jean Louis wouldn’t tell me what it was for,” Mackie explained. “About a week later there were pictures in the newspaper of Marilyn singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and it was on the news and stuff.”
Now, 60 years later, Monroe’s dress is still making headlines.
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