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Why Marilyn Monroe's bedazzled gown is 'iconic'? Know the story behind actress’ “Happy Birthday” dress

In 1962, the sheer, sparkling gown fascinated and scandalised America. We know who wore it, but who created it, and where is it now? Who designed it, and where is it now?
 

Why Marilyn Monroe's bedazzled gown is iconic know the story behind actress Happy Birthday dress RBA
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Bangalore, First Published Jun 14, 2022, 12:03 PM IST

In May 1962, the exceptional performance of a well-known tune transformed a song that had been performed countless times into a historic occasion. Marilyn Monroe's breathy, seductive, sensual rendition of "Happy Birthday" at a function for former President John F. Kennedy is still the most renowned rendition of the song—and arguably the most famous rendition of any song ever!

Monroe's performance was so memorable that the jaw-dropping classic dress she wore became a collector's item that has sold for millions of dollars. Recently, Kim Kardashian wore it to the 2022 Met Gala, the famous gown is back in the spotlight—but how much do we truly know about it? Let us know the history of the iconic garment.

Also Read: Kim Kardashian allegedly damaged Marilyn Monroe's iconic dress?

When did Marilyn Monroe perform "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" for the first time?
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe performed "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at JFK and the Democratic National Committee fundraiser. She walked onto the stage, shed her white fur coat to unveil her stunning marquisette gown, and gave her renowned performance. The event occurred 10 days before Kennedy's 45th birthday, at Madison Square Garden, New York. 

Marilyn Monroe 's gown
The gown was translucent (sheer) and body-hugging, with glittering beads sprinkled throughout, as shown in the photo. According to Worn on This Day: The Clothes That Made History, the picture doesn't reflect that the dress had almost 2,500 rhinestones. Monroe reportedly had to be sewn into the dress because it was tight. 

It was custom-crafted by French costumier Jean Louis and based on a design by a teenage Bob Mackie. It was inspired by theatrical costumes Louis had fashioned for Marlene Dietrich and her Las Vegas cabaret performance in the 1950s and 1960s. Also, many fashion graduates helped in creating this gown back then. 

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Bob Mackie continues to create famous pieces and earn accolades to this day. According to Vintage News, she also opted to wear nothing below it so that the fit would be perfect, purposefully courting the "scandalous" conversation that would inevitably surround the dress and her performance. What a way to get off on the right foot! Mackie worked for Jean Louis, a well-known designer who finished the artwork.

Marilyn Monroe's gown cost:
The price of the gown now. Marilyn Monroe paid $1,440 for it, which is almost $13,700. Sure, that's a bit expensive. However, following Monroe's performance, the dress's worth surged. According to The Vintage News, it sold for $1.26 million in a 1999 auction, over double the projected price. However, that's nothing compared to the $4.8 million spent on it by Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in 2016, making it one of the most expensive pieces of pop-culture memorabilia ever. It is still on display at Ripley's Hollywood Boulevard Museum.

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