After days of internet uproar over whether Kim Kardashian’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress was destroyed by her wearing it to the Met Gala earlier this year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not stepped in to debunk the claim.
The firm, which bought the famed gown several years ago, said on Thursday that a report made on its condition in early 2017 showed comparable deterioration to what was noticed when Kardashian wore it.
“A number of the seams are torn and worn,” according to the report. Given how delicate the material is, this is unsurprising. In addition to other damage, there is puckering at the back from the hooks and eyes.”
“The garment was in the same condition it started in from the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim stepped into the dress, to the top, where it was returned,” Ripley’s executive Amanda Joiner, vice president of publishing and licensing, added in a statement.
Kardashian’s publicist declined to comment on the matter.
The theory that Kardashian ruined the gown — which Monroe wore while serenading President John F. Kennedy with a birthday song 60 years ago — stems from ChadMichael Morrisette, a collector who photographed the gown earlier this week at the Ripley’s location in Los Angeles after spotting what he thought was new damage to the garment. He shared the photos with another collector, @marilynmonroecollection, who used the hashtag #beforeandafter to back Morrisette’s claim on Instagram.
“Was it worth it?” asks the Instagram caption, referring to Ripley’s Aquarium.
The Met Gala returns to the ‘Gilded’ era in these austere times.
Textil conservators and fashion historians were outraged by the company’s choice to loan Kardashian the gown for the May 2 event benefiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which they saw as hazardous and disrespectful to the garment’s legendary nature. After this year’s Met Gala, fashion designer Bob Mackie, who designed the drawing for the 1962 Jean Louis gown while working as an assistant to the Hollywood costumer, told Entertainment Weekly that he thought Kardashian’s wearing the gown on the red carpet was a “huge mistake.”
Monroe was a “divine,” according to Mackie. “She’s a crazed goddess, but she’s a goddess.” She was incredible. Nobody takes pictures like that. It was also done for her. It was made specifically for her. That clothing should not be seen on anyone else.”
Monroe’s custom dress was sold at auction twice, according to Vogue: once in 1999 for more than a million dollars as part of her estate sale with Christie’s, and again in 2016 for $4.8 million at a Julien’s Auctions event and was purchased by Ripley’s. The outfit is kept in “a shadowy vault that’s regulated at the perfect 68 degrees and 40-50 percent humidity,” according to the magazine. To try it on, Kardashian said she “had to wear gloves.”
According to Kardashian, the dress was too tiny in some places, so she went on a hard diet afterward to make it fit in time for the Met Gala. According to Vogue, she only wore the dress for the red carpet, putting it on in a makeshift dressing room near the bottom of the stairs and changing into a replica after walking up the stairs. Kardashian was helped with the process by a Ripley’s conservationist who was wearing gloves.
“I’m really mindful of the outfit and what it signifies to American history,” Kardashian told Vogue.