Fashion on Film

Stylist magazine includes Marilyn’s white halter-neck dress from The Seven Year Itch in its list of 45 iconic movie styles. Personally, I love her cutaway dress from Niagara. Designed by Dorothy Jeakins, Marilyn wore it to several public events in 1952. What’s your favourite Marilyn movie look?

Year of the Dress

“I have a feeling some records are going to be broken with this gown,” artist Liz Grammaticas posted to her blog on the eve of the Debbie Reynolds auction. She was, of course, referring to the immortal white halter-dress that blew up as Marilyn stood over a subway grating in The Seven Year Itch (1955.)

And Liz was right, of course – the dress sold for £2.8 million, along with many other Monroe-related items as Melinda reported on The Mmm Blog.

The Guardian reported on the history of Marilyn’s dress, quoting its now deceased designer, Travilla: “I wondered what could I do with this most beautiful girl that Marilyn was to play to make her look clean, talcum-powdered, and adorable.”

Over at Bloomberg, Virginia Postrel noted that, contrary to myth, MM was definitely not a plus-size: “In fact, the average waist measurement of the four Monroe dresses was a mere 22 inches, according to Lisa Urban, the Hollywood consultant who dressed the mannequins and took measurements for me. Even Monroe’s bust was a modest 34 inches.”

However, Scott Fortner – who attended the auction – asked on his blog, ‘Was it the dress?’ As many fans will know, designers often made up to five versions of any costume. After liaising with Andrew Hansford, curator of the Travilla Estate, Scott recorded his findings in another post, ‘Say YES to the dress’. It is a well-researched article, pointing out differences between the dress worn in the outdoor photo shoot, and the version used in the later, studio-staged scene.

On a sombre note, many have lamented the dissembling of one of the world’s most spectacular collections of Hollywood memorabilia. None more so than Debbie Reynolds herself, who tried for many years to open a museum.

Finally, who bought the dress? Nothing has been confirmed, but Jane Fonda posted on her blog last week, “A Canadian consortium that has all of Marilyn Monroe’s estate and possessions bought her white Seven Year Itch dress for many millions.”

If Jane is correct, hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see of the world’s most iconic dress.

Lara Stone as ‘The Girl’ for Red Nose Day

Model Lara Stone imitates Marilyn’s famous pose from The Seven Year Itch to launch this year’s Red Nose Day appeal for Comic Relief.

“I had so much fun being Marilyn Monroe for the day and recreating the iconic shot with a Red Nose twist. It was an honour to be asked to take part.”

This year’s Red Nose Day telethon will be broadcast on BBC1, March 18.

Elle Fanning: Growing Up With Marilyn

Elle Fanning, 12 year-old sister of actress Dakota, stars with Stephen Dorff in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, set in one of her idol Marilyn Monroe’s Hollywood haunts – the Chateau Marmont Hotel. (Marilyn spent time there while filming Bus Stop in 1956.)

“I’d been there before for some interviews and photo shoots, but I hadn’t spent that much time there. Now, I feel like I know it so well. When I first got there, I was like, ‘Am I walking where Marilyn Monroe walked?'”

This month Elle tells Interview magazine about her lifelong admiration for MM:

“INTERVIEW: Is there anyone you’d really like to work with? Who was your favourite actor growing up?

ELLE: My favorite actress is Marilyn Monroe.

INTERVIEW: She’s gonna be tricky to work with.

ELLE: Yeah. [laughs]

INTERVIEW: Have you ever seen any of Marilyn Monroe’s films? Or do you just like her look?

ELLE: Yeah, I mean, of course-I love her look and everything. But I’ve seen The Seven Year Itch [1955] and I loved that. I watched that all the time when I was little. I liked the dress. I was her for Halloween when I was 7. I did the makeup and the mole and I did all the poses with blowing kisses and all that …”

Dressed as Marilyn for Halloween ’05, aged 7

Debbie Reynolds to Sell Collection

Debbie Reynolds, star of classic movies including Singing in the Rain (1952), is to put her collection of Hollywood memorabilia, worth about $5 million, on auction, after failing to find a buyer.

Miss Reynolds, 78, owns several Monroe-related items, including the famous white dress designed by Travilla for The Seven Year Itch (1955.)

‘Most people collect for themselves … but she collected for the public,’ Reynold’s son, Todd Fisher, told Knoxville News. ‘She collected for all of us. She collected for the American people to preserve the history of their industry.’

On his Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog today, Scott Fortner asks, ‘Will the Seven Year Itch subway scene dress come up for auction? If so, will it outsell the “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, which sold for $1.3 million in 1999?’