Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Marilyn Monroe's Iconic JFK Birthday Dress is on the Auction Block

Watch a promo of the largest Marilyn Monroe auction ever to take place. 

When I think of famous dresses, I immediately see the sparkly, backless, flesh-colored, figure-hugging Jean Louis gown Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to JFK.  Decades before Kim Kardashian's bare-all style, Britney Spears' nude bodysuits or the recent red carpet see-through dress trend, Marilyn's practically-nude-but-dipped-in-rhinestones dress made the crowd at Madison Square Garden swoon.   When she stepped out under the lights, she shimmered like a goddess who had descended from the stars.  It's such an iconic fashion moment:

Happy birthday, Mr. President...

Next month, that very dress will go on the auction block at Julien's as part of a huge collection of Marilyn Monroe's personal belongings.  The auction is also offering many other articles of Marilyn's clothing, including shoes, watches, jewelry and even the gorgeous black lace dress from Some Like it Hot.  Many pieces of Marilyn's artwork and original drafts of poetry will also be included.  (Oh, how I'd love to see all of those things.)

But getting back to the shimmering nude dress... 

Think the latest Valentino gowns are expensive?  When Marilyn's JFK dress last sold at Christie's in 1999, it fetched a whopping $1.267 million.  It was the most money ever paid for a single item of personal clothing.

You can't see it in this photo, but I, too, am covered in sparkles.

The closest I ever came to wearing such a dress was when my husband and I renewed our vows a few years ago for our 11th anniversary.  I just had to have a twinkly, nude-colored, Marilyn-style wiggle dress for a Vegas wedding ceremony.

One of the things I love most about fashion is how an article of clothing can allow us to step into a different part of ourselves.  While I usually run around in jeans -- as my IG account proves -- the dress I chose for the ceremony allowed me to flesh out my inner screen goddess.  It's not as scandalous as Marilyn's JFK gown, but come on, people ... I was renewing my wedding vows!  Plus, I couldn't help but remember Marilyn's own line:

"Your clothes should be tight enough to show you're a woman, but loose enough to show you're a lady."

It's actually a funny quote when you realize she had to literally be sewn into that JFK birthday dress.

If you absolutely, positively must have a close-to-the-original replica of Marilyn's dress, I found a handmade version at Etsy by Steph Peterson (aka Deconstructress) that is truly gorgeous:

You know  you want this.

While there are hundreds of books claiming to reveal the real Marilyn Monroe (and I've read many of them) my favorite book is a collection of her writing called My Story.  Beneath the shimmery, rhinestone-studded surface was a complex, thoughtful, intellectual, political and deeply poetic woman.

For details about the history of the dress, as well as information about the upcoming Julien's auction, take a look at the video below.

Learn about the creation of Marilyn Monroe's JFK birthday dress.

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum to start a conversation!

Video via Darren Julien.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images