Bob Mackie, the 82-year-old designer who sketched Marily Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, is NOT happy that Kim Kardashian wore the gown to the Met Gala.
“I thought it was a big mistake,” Mackie told the outlet, in a story published Monday on Turner Classic Movies’ new series Follow the Thread, in which he appears.
“[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,” he argued. “Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”
The legendary costume designer drew the design in 1962 for Jean Louis, who fashioned the frock Monroe famously wore to serenade then-president John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday. Monroe died less than three months later.
In order to fit into the gown, Kardashian, 41, famously lost 16 lbs. in three weeks as the dress — which was first flown to her via private plane from Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Orlando, Florida — originally didn’t fit and couldn’t be altered.
“I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein,” she told Vogue of her strict workout routine. “I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict.”
She wound up only actually wearing the original dress for a matter of minutes, taking pictures with it up the steps of the Met before changing into a lookalike gown (with a little help from boyfriend Pete Davidson).
“I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won’t be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do,” Kardashian said. “Everything had to be specifically timed and I had to practice walking up the stairs.”
Despite her care, many fans criticized Kardashian for wearing the garment. Mackie’s comments follow similar sentiments from historians who say that Kardashian’s Marilyn moment at the Met Ball was a disrespectful to the integrity of the gown and its priceless history.
Dr. Justine De Young, professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told PEOPLE that the look was “irresponsible and unnecessary.”
“She can –– and did –– commission a replica which would be indistinguishable from the original,” Dr. Young noted. “Such an iconic piece of American history should not be put at risk of damage just for an ego-boost and photo-op.”
Monroe historian and collector Scott Fortner also told PEOPLE that the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes star wanted the dress to be totally unique to her.
“When Marilyn knew she’d be performing at President John F. Kennedy’s birthday gala she contacted Louis and said, ‘I want you to design a truly historical dress, a dazzling dress that’s one of a kind.’ She asked that it be a dress that, ‘only Marilyn Monroe could wear,’ ” Fortner said.
“Marilyn stood nude as the fabric for the dress was literally sculpted to her body to precisely match every curve. The fabric, which is a flesh-colored soufflé gauze imported from France, was layered strategically so she wouldn’t need to wear undergarments,” he continued.
Fortner added that Monroe’s dress “fit her perfectly. The gown worn by anyone else will not be a precise fit. In this case, Kim Kardashian’s measurements are somewhat different than Marilyn’s. It’s logically assumed the fabric and seams were stressed.”
The collector, who witnessed Ripley’s buy the dress for $4.81 million in 2016, noted that “the age of the gown” is also an “issue” as Monroe wore it in May 1962, making the garment 60 years old.
Who knew a dress would cause all of this controversy? We haven’t heard this much about a dress since Jennifer Lopez wore, re-wore, and re-re-wore that green Versace dress.