Bert Stern’s famous portrait of Marilyn wearing a black, backless Christian Dior dress – shot for Vogue magazine in July 1962 – is among the iconic fashion images featured in The Dior Collection, a new exhibition beginning a 2-month run at London’s Proud Central on February 7.
Marilyn’s 1962 photo-shoot with Bert Stern for Vogue, in which she wore a black Christian Dior dress, is listed among the legendary fashion house’s top five ‘life-changing moments’ by Justin Gray on Yohomo.
“Can you think of a better combo? Marilyn Monroe … wearing this backless black Dior dress designed by Marc Bohan. The haunting photos, shot by Bert Stern for Vogue, just show the beauty of the fabric clinging to her back allowing the light to dance off her shoulder blades and pull the viewers eye up to her face. The tailoring and the fit of the piece appear as effortless as Marilyn’s beauty, but hide so much complexity in the seaming and the construction. This is one of those perfect moments when an artist and a muse find each other.”
Marilyn may never have won an Oscar, but she continues to make her presence felt at the world’s glitziest awards ceremony. Last night’s broadcast included a new Cadillac commercial, featuring vintage photos of famous faces and their cars – headed up by Marilyn, photographed by Milton Greene in 1954. You can watch the Cadillac ad here, and see more of Marilyn and her cars here.
One of this year’s biggest movies was La La Land, the nostalgic musical which tied with All About Eve and Titanic for the most nominations in Oscar history. All About Eve was a breakthrough role for Marilyn, and she would present soundman Thomas Moulton with an award at the 1951 ceremony (the only time she attended.)
Packed with Old Hollywood references – including this street mural – La La Land was named as best picture by Warren Beatty (who recently shared his memories of Marilyn.) However, it appears he was given the wrong envelope, as it was announced shortly afterward that this year’s winner was, in fact, Moonlight.
Actress Charlize Theron wore a gold lamé dress (and diamond earrings), designed by Christian Dior and strikingly similar to the iconic Travilla gown worn by Marilyn to the Photoplay Awards in 1953. Charlize was once mooted to star in an MM biopic (which was never produced), and appeared alongside a digitally recreated Marilyn – in her original gold lamé – for a J’Adore perfume ad in 2011.
Michelle Williams, nominated as best actress in 2011 for My Week With Marilyn, was up for best supporting actress this year in Manchester By the Sea, losing again to Viola Davis in Fences. As Immortal Marilyn member Phil noticed, Fences – directed by, and starring Denzel Washington – apparently uses the same ‘New York Street’ set from the Twentieth Century Fox lot, as seen in Love Nest some 66 years ago.
“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.
Several 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.'”
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.
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.
Finally, 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.
Women in Dior: Sublime Elegance of a Portrait, opening at the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy on May 5 (through to September 25), features Marilyn – as photographed by Bert Stern in a black Dior dress – among other iconic women who wore Dior, reports the Malay Mail.
“The exhibition focuses on the elegant women who have showcased Dior’s dresses, garments and accessories in style, from 1947 to the present day. Their personality, style and key moments from their lives are explored through a selection of dresses, photographs, letters, paintings and drawings.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a book, also entitled Women in Dior – Sublime Elegance of a Portrait, written by fashion journalist Laurence Benaïm and published by Rizzoli. The book takes a closer look at the famous figures who marked the history of the French fashion house, exploring their tastes, their memories and — of course — their Dior ensembles.”
“That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing.” – Marilyn Monroe, 1962
After recent news of a legal battle between ABG (Authentic Brands Group, the licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate) and a company known as Virtual Marilyn LLC, the Wall Street Journal reveals that ABG are planning to launch their own 3-D, digitised Marilyn. Crass hypocrisy or an exciting new venture? You decide…
“The iconic actress is getting digitally revived by Pulse Evolution, the company that brought to life Michael Jackson this past year at the Billboard Music Awards. They’ve signed a long-term deal with the rights holder to Monroe’s estate Authentic Brand Group(ABG) to develop a commercially viable digital replica of her for commercials, TV shows, films and even a live show.
The partnership was signed at the beginning of October and there’s already a four-year commercial deal in place that ABG CEO Jamie Salter says is with a Fortune 500 cosmetic company worth over $100 million dollars. The two companies plan to split profits 50/50 for revenue she generates through Pulse’s creation.
‘This is a digital asset that’s digitally distributal,’ says Pulse CEO Frank Patterson. ‘Popularly [they’re] being referred to as holograms because people don’t know how to talk about it. We’re talking about the digital likeness of humans. Digital humans are new to us as a society. There’s a lot of spaces where digital humans will become very useful.’
Patterson says these aren’t true holograms and that we’re years off from developing that technology. Instead, they’re a ‘3-D digital object.’
For Pulse and ABG, they’re proceeding with caution, while at the same time trying to monetize her with new technology. ‘There’s only one Marilyn Monroe in the world, and we’re going to be very careful with her,’ Salter says.
Still, while there may be just one Monroe, the possibilities of putting her into a live setting are much different than your typical real-life performer. ‘Unlike a typical show, Marilyn Monroe can be in more than one location at a time,’ Patterson says. ‘Why couldn’t we open a show in Vegas and Seoul at the same time?’
Pulse plans to hire a creative team of writers, directors, and costume designers to flesh out the live show Monroe would undertake. They’re already well underway in developing a show for Elvis Presley, who they secured a deal with in August.
‘We’re taking these assets and applying them to traditional business structures,’ Patterson says. ‘First having them appear in major venue installations – think of a casino appearance with a major, 52-week show commitment. Then rolling them out into touring presentations and special appearances, generating sponsorship and branded-content opportunities.’ He says that it would take about 18 months to roll out a show of this nature, including time to build Monroe’s digital persona. When asked about whether or not venues would be interested in something like that, the response was ‘overwhelmingly positive.’
For ABG, the focus seems to be more about continuing using Monroe’s image for commercial purposes, as she did in a 2011 commercial spot where her likeness was used alongside Charlize Theron for a J’Adore Dior ad. ‘We’re sticking with the best companies in that [fashion] space,’ Salter says. ‘We’ll be very careful when Marilyn Monroe takes a job from a model standpoint. We’re treating her no different than ifBrad Pitt or Lady Gaga was our client.'”
Marilyn had a penchant for the colour white. Like Jean Harlow before her, she decorated her homes in white, and often wore white to accentuate her platinum blonde aura. Her billowing white dress from The Seven Year Itch is the most famous example, but there are many other, off-screen examples as well.
American Dior, by Kate Betts, is a high-gloss look at how the French designer conquered the US market. A photo of Marilyn in an elegant black dress, taken by Bert Stern in 1962, graces the cover. (The dress was recreated by Dior for the recent ‘Picturing Marilyn’ exhibit in New York.)
If thrillers are more to your taste, Edward Wilson’s The Midnight Swimmer, though set in early 1960s England, alludes to Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Marilyn:
‘This novel about what turns into the Cuban Missile Crisis is full of sidelights on the Profumo Affair, the French Connection and precisely why Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK.’
My Week With Marilyn was screened last night at New York’s Milk Gallery, where the ‘Picturing Marilyn’ exhibit is on display this weekend. Celebrities like supermodel Christie Brinkley attended, along with members of the movie’s cast and crew: producer Harvey Weinstein, director Simon Curtis, and actor Dominic Cooper, who plays Milton Greene.
The evening was hosted by Dior, who recreated the black dress that Marilyn wore in one of her last photo sessions, with Bert Stern, for Vogue in 1962. The dress was modelled by Dree Hemingway (daughter of Mariel, and great-grand-daughter of Ernest Hemingway.)
Nearly 80 photos from the event are posted at StyleList, where Brinkley shared her love for Marilyn:
‘The blonde stunner’s hair was styled in Monroe-esque waves, “Somebody said I was channeling Marilyn Monroe tonight and I was extremely flattered,” she confessed. How would she try to get the full look? “Well I think a key element is, first of all, the hair. The second anyone bleaches their hair really blond like that, it’s that Marilyn platinum. And then of course, the eyebrows. The lips. And then there’s just a certain openness and vulnerability that she exudes.” Brinkley continued, “I think Marilyn Monroe had the type of personality that if she gained 20 pounds, she’d still be Marilyn Monroe. A few pounds here or there. So if somebody asked me if I thought she could make it in today’s modeling world, I would say absolutely because she possesses that ‘x’-factor.” And Brinkley should know! The 57-year-old Hamptons resident has been modeling for decades. “I hope that I have that kind of connection with the camera, but Marilyn was just different. The thing about Marilyn is that she’s lasted forever, and I think she is forever.” ‘
A selection of photos from the exhibit are posted at NY Mag.
‘Picturing Marilyn’, an exhibition featuring 62 photos by Andre de Dienes, Richard C. Miller, Bruno Bernard, Philippe Halsman, Sam Shaw, Milton Greene and Bert Stern, will be on display (and up for sale) at New York’s Milk Gallery for two days only (November 10-12.)
The exhibition is featured in fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily. Curator Etheleen Staley comments, “The key to it is that she has been so photographed, and was so photogenic that, in a way, people are drawn to her image even more than her movies.”
Other highlights include a replica of the black dress Marilyn wore for Bert Stern in 1962 (remade by Christian Dior), and a screening of My Week With Marilyn.