What She Said: Marilyn and Chanel No. 5

Marilyn by Bob Beerman, 1953

Over at Garage Magazine, Tatum Dooley traces the origins of Marilyn’s famous quote regarding her favourite perfume…

“When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, ‘I only wear Chanel No. 5.’

The quote originates from a retelling by Monroe to Life Magazine in April 1952. The question wasn’t posed by Life; instead Monroe offered it up as a anecdote: “Once this fellow says, “Marilyn, what do you wear to bed?’ So I said I only wear Chanel No. 5.”‘

A bastardized version often tidily conflates Monroe as both speakers: ‘What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.’

Monroe is the subject of the second advertisement in a multi-part campaign, titled ‘Inside Chanel,’ levied by the brand. The ad, at just over two minutes, makes Monroe a posthumous face of the venerable perfume. ‘We may never know when she said the phrase for the first time,’ the video states about Monroe’s famous reference to the perfume, going on to cite all the times they have proof it happened: April 7th, 1952, in Life Magazine. October 1953, at a photoshoot for Modern Screen. April 1970, Marie Claire.

‘°5, because it’s the truth… and yet, I don’t want to say nude. But it’s the truth!’

But…it’s the truth lingers on the screen.”

ABG’s Jamie Salter On Marketing Marilyn

Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic Brands Group (ABG), has talked about how Marilyn helped to build his business empire, in an interview with Forbes magazine.

“For Marilyn Monroe, Salter purchased 80% of the Monroe estate in 2012 for a reported $20 million to $30 million before slashing its 300 licensing deals—from T-shirts to refrigerator magnets—down to 80. Then he built the business back up, purchasing the other 20% of the estate and increasing the number of licenses to the sweet spot of 100, focusing on venerable brands that Monroe actually used in life—like Chanel No. 5.

‘You can sell X amount of Marilyn Monroe fragrance at a mass-market retailer, or you can do a deal with Chanel No. 5,’ Salter says. ‘A No. 5 deal doesn’t pay as well, but I think that’s important for the brand because it gives a halo effect. And the truth of the matter is, she wore Chanel No. 5.’

He [initially] went after the Marilyn Monroe business and received a no. But eventually Anna Strasberg, the widow of Monroe’s acting coach Lee Strasberg (to whom she’d left her estate), came back and agreed to a deal to sell 80%. (And three years after Salter bought into Monroe, Strasberg sold him the rest of the business.)

Monroe’s business became so successful in the years following Salter’s arrival that he ended up paying the same amount for the last 20% than he had for the first 80%. He wouldn’t reveal precise numbers, but industry insiders were nevertheless impressed.”

Marilyn and Joe in Japan

Over at Japan Today, Patrick Parr looks back at the newlywed Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s eventful trip to the Far East in 1954, where he attended a baseball junket and she entertained US troops in Korea. (They’re photographed here with the manager of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, where they stayed during their visit.)

“For Monroe, this was now her life when visiting other countries. As she puts it in her abbreviated as-told-to Ben Hecht autobiography, My Story: ‘My travels have always been of the same kind. No matter where I’ve gone or why I’ve gone there, it ends up that I never see anything. Becoming a movie star is living on a merry-go-round… you don’t see natives or new scenery. You see chiefly the same press agent, the same sort of interviewers and the same picture layouts of yourself… ‘

Before heading out to support the troops in South Korea, Monroe first visited soldiers who had been fighting over in Korea and were now recuperating in Japanese hospitals. Always under heavy security detail, on Feb 11 she visited the Iwakuni City military base south of Hiroshima and then on the Feb 14 traveled to Osaka. She also visited a Tokyo medical center for wounded soldiers.

At the time, she was being treated by Tokujiro Namikoshi, the ‘founder of modern shiatsu,’ for ‘chronic endometriosis,’ a painful condition that can affect the female reproductive system. During this downtime, Monroe always had on hand her favorite perfume.  According to writer Pauline Torin, back in 2009 a bottle of Monroe’s Chanel No. 5 was found sewn into a pillowcase by a housekeeper and dated ‘Feb. 5 1954.’

When Monroe returned to Japan, she came down with the flu and remained mainly in the Imperial Hotel. She and DiMaggio did eat in Ginza once, at Irene’s Hungaria Restaurant, an ‘elegant’ place to dine. One of the cooks there, Yoshimasa Saito, remembered the couple coming in for a bite in a May 2006 interview with Judit Kawaguchi for The Japan Times: ‘Mon-chan, as we called her, was more beautiful in person than on film. I only got a glimpse of her because I was busy cooking.'”

Marilyn at Julien’s: Style and Beauty

Marilyn in costume for 'The Prince and the Showgirl'
Marilyn in costume for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’

“Marilyn Monroe famously sang ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,’” Sheila Gibson Stoodley writes for Robb Report, “but collectors of her memorabilia disagree. Seven of the 10 most-expensive Marilyn Monroe items sold at auction are dresses—mainly costumes that the late star wore in her films. The few that she donned outside of the studio earn their high sums thanks to period photographs that prove Monroe wore them.” And over at his MM Collection Blog, Scott Fortner – who helped to catalogue this week’s auction at Julien’s – takes a closer look at the ‘I’m Through With Love‘ dress from Some Like It Hot, and the ‘After You Get What You Want‘ dress from There’s No Business Like Show Business. Both costumes are from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, and will go under the hammer tomorrow.

4B0C4B67-95B1-4697-9B6F-7F99625E3A20-16590-000008CBD9507BCC_tmpSeveral other items which contributed to Marilyn’s glamorous look are also among the lots. From her modelling days onward, Marilyn often wore her own clothing in photo shoots. These brown leather sandals date back to a 1950 session with photographer Earl Leaf, shot at the Hollywood home of her agent, Johnny Hyde.

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Unlike her cinematic alter-ego Lorelei Lee, Marilyn wasn’t really a material girl. These earrings, worn to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch, were made from simulated diamonds.

Green lace blouse, from 'Bus Stop'
Green lace blouse, from ‘Bus Stop’

Marilyn’s movie costumes were made in duplicates, with her name next to the Fox logo on a sewn-in label. This green lace bodice from Bus Stop was won in a contest by a lucky reader of the British fan magazine, Picture Show.

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These red satin platform shoes – designed by Annello & Davide – were born by Marilyn to the London premiere of Arthur Miller’s controversial play, A View From the Bridge.

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John Moore’s pencil sketches for the form-fitting mermaid gown worn by Marilyn to the premiere of The Prince and the Showgirl are also on offer.

Marilyn’s personal diet plan and skincare regime are available in full.

“A two-page, typed plan titled ‘Calorie Restricted Diet/ 1000 Calories/ 100 Grams Protein’ prepared for Monroe by Dr. Leon Krohn. The pages are undated, but some of the approved foods and meal plans are in line with the notations found in Monroe’s hand in the back of one of her notebooks from 1958. The diet put forth presents sound health advice even by today’s standards, recommending the restriction of sugar, fats and carbohydrates to whole wheat and ‘one small white potato boiled baked or riced’ as a substitution for one slice of bread.

Five sets of instructions, eight pages, from the Erno Laszlo Institute written out for Marilyn Monroe Miller, dated June 5, 6, 11, and 12, 1958, and July 3, 1958, outlining her constantly changing skincare regime in great detail. The instructions not only divide skincare into ‘Morning,’ ‘Evening if dressing,’ and ‘Evening before retiring,’ but also there are instructions on what not to eat: ‘Not one piece of any kind of nuts, olives, chocolate, clams and oysters.’ There are also separate instructions for California and ‘Instructions for Makeup While Making Films.'”

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These white leather shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo are just one of several pairs that she owned. (The spiked heels were 3 inches high, and the size was 7.5B.)

In the spring of 1958, Marilyn made plans to appear at the Cannes Film Festival. Simone Noir sent her an invitation to visit Christian Dior in Paris. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled, but a separate invoice shows that Marilyn bought a dress and coat by Dior from a Park Avenue boutique.

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That Christmas, Marilyn’s longtime hairdresser, Agnes Flanagan, gave her a bottle of her favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5, purchased from I. Magnin in Beverly Hills.

04CE929F-E2C5-4041-B63B-5942E77CBE29-16590-000008F3381F1DE9_tmpFinally, a costume sketch by Bob Mackie for Something’s Got to Give. Based on a Jean Louis design, the red skirt suit with a swing jacket trimmed in leopard print, and matching hat, was intended as an ‘Outfit Worn on Day Off/Also in Courtroom Sequence.’ However, the ensemble was not worn by Marilyn during wardrobe tests, or any surviving footage from the ill-fated movie.

When Marge Met Marilyn

Everyone’s favourite cartoon mom, Marge Simpson, has a Marilyn moment in this illustration by artist AleXsandro Palombo for Vogue, in a series of classic fashion recreations celebrating 25 years of The Simpsons:

“‘There is a Marge Simpson in every woman and with this tribute I wanted to ignite the magic that is in every women; the strength, femininity, elegance, eroticism and beauty,’ Palombo told us. ‘I made a strict and careful selection of what, in my opinion, has really influenced the style of the last 100 years. Each of these dresses really changed the course of the history of costume, giving a new aesthetic vision that has anticipated major changes in our society. We may not consider these clothes as art, but the aesthetic vision that they emanate has played an important role in giving strength to the path of emancipation of women since 1900. In many cases it’s the dress that has transformed a woman into an icon, but in many others, it’s the personality of the women that has enlightened the dress.'”

UPDATE: Here’s another famous MM pose, based on Ed Feingersh’s 1955 photo of Marilyn dabbing on her favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5…

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Marilyn’s Chanel Moment

Chanel have uploaded a rather nice video about Marilyn, including audio from her 1960 interview with George Belmont of Marie-Claire magazine in which she explains her answer to the question, ‘What do you wear to bed?’

Of course, it was Chanel No 5 – possibly the most lucrative free publicity a perfumier ever had. The source of the original quip remains obscure, though it dates back as early as 1953 when she posed for photographer Bob Beerman.

You can watch Chanel’s video here.

Julien’s Auctions

Julien’s Auctions are offering property from the personal and professional life of Marilyn Monroe to be auctioned on June 26th and 27th at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, Las Vegas.

A collection of items from the estate of Dr Ralph Greenson, Monroe’s psychiatrist in the last two years of her life, are featured, including a therapy couch from Greenson’s Beverly Hills office, and a chest X-Ray of his famous patient from the early 1950s.

(Some Monroe fans, myself included, may find this more than a little morbid…)

Also on offer are handwritten correspondence between Marilyn and Dr Greenson’s daughter, Joan, then a teenager; and a pink Pucci blouse given by Marilyn to Joan: additionally, there is a chair from Marilyn’s home, a Chanel No. 5 bottle owned by the star, an early portrait by David Conover, and snaps taken by servicemen during Monroe’s 1954 trip to Korea.

An interesting sidenote: items from the personal estate of Anna Nicole Smith are also up for auction. Smith, a glamour model and tabloid favourite until her tragic death in 2007, was an ardent Monroe fan and even lived in the star’s last home for a while.

For those unable to attend the auction in person, bids will also be taken online (in real time) and by telephone. Alternatively, interested parties can order a full ‘Hollywood Legends’ catalogue for the rather grand price of $100.

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