Kim Kardashian Wearing Monroe's Iconic Dress To The Met Gala Annoyed Museum Experts

Love her or hate her, no one can deny that Kim Kardashian is considered a fashion icon. The reality star, who made her Met Gala debut in 2013 (via E! Online), has continued to wow and, at times, disappoint fashion critics. Insider reports that at her first Met Gala, a then-pregnant Kardashian wore a floral Givenchy dress that was heavily criticized and made into a meme. However, in the years since she has managed to wear looks that have undoubtedly cemented her status in pop culture. At the 2022 Met Gala, for example, Vogue writes that Kardashian floored everyone by wearing Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday" dress.

Yes, that's right: She wore the actual dress that Monroe donned when she sang "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 at Madison Square Garden. According to The Indian Express, the dress was made by Jean Louis, a French costume designer, and was based on a Bob Mackie design. Monroe reportedly paid $1,440 for the sheer, embellished gown.

Reader's Digest states that the dress was so tight that Monroe had to be sewn into it and decided against wearing underwear. When she walked on stage, the star was wearing a fur coat that she promptly took off. The audience believed she was naked and went wild. The legendary dress, as WESH explains, is now owned by Ripley's Believe it or Not! in Orlando, Florida. A few months ago, Kardashian called Ripley's and asked if she could wear the dress. In a now-controversial decision, they obliged her request.

Kim Kardashian's crash diet for the Met Gala

According to Vogue, Kardashian came up with the idea to wear Monroe's dress at the 2021 Met Gala. The process to fit into it, however, was anything but easy. As the dress resides in a temperature-controlled vault, Kardashian first tried on a replica. That fitting went without a hitch. Kardashian then tried on the actual dress, which did not fit. Buzzfeed reports that this was a problem, as she was prohibited from altering the dress. Kardashian was not deterred and decided to shed some weight for the event. People writes that she ultimately lost 16 pounds in three weeks to wear Monroe's dress.

Kardashian stated that she cut out carbs and sugar from her diet. Instead, she ate protein-packed meals with vegetables. The hard work paid off and she fit into the dress when she tried it on at the final fitting. Kardashian told Vogue that "I wanted to cry tears of joy when it went up." The BBC states that many have blasted the star for her comments regarding her efforts to lose weight. Dr. Justine De young from the Fashion Institute of Technology told People that "Crash-dieting to fit into the original dress is also an unfortunate message to be sending, one more in keeping with ideals of the 1960s than today." Kardashian, per Vogue, also bleached her dark locks to complete the look.

Kim Kardashian only wore the dress for a few minutes

Town & Country reports that Kardashian only wore Monroe's dress to walk the Met Gala red carpet. She then wore a replica for the rest of the event. Vogue explains that Kardashian actually changed into Monroe's dress at the Met Gala with the assistance of a conservationist from Ripley's Believe it or Not! Moreover, she reportedly practiced walking up the stairs beforehand to ensure she didn't damage the dress.

Kardashian didn't want to take any chances, and stated, "I'm extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it" (via Vogue). Many, however, disagree with this sentiment. Buzzfeed writes that Kardashian said the dress fit her perfectly, but a video of her trying on the dress shows otherwise. The garment doesn't zip up all the way and many believe it's the real reason she paired a fur coat with the dress. This has led experts and historians to denounce her decision to wear it.

Dr. De Young told People that it was "irresponsible and unnecessary." Others note that the dress was made to fit Monroe, not Kardashian. Scott Fortner, a Monroe historian, expressed that "It's logically assumed the fabric and seams were stressed" by the reality star. Per Harper's Bazaar, Kardashian later changed into another dress that Monroe wore at the 1962 Golden Globes after the Met Gala.

Historians are outraged that Kardashian wore the dress

Per Town & Country, both historians and fashion conservators are worried that Kardashian wearing Monroe's dress could set a new precedent. Many note that the 60-year-old dress has immense historical and cultural value (via Euronews). Conservators state that garments in this category are always archived, which means that they will never be worn again. Sarah Scaturro, a former conservator at the Met's Costume Institute, stated that "my worry is that colleagues in historic costume collections are now going to be pressured by important people to let them wear garments" (per Town & Country).

Other historians have expressed that Kardashian certainly damaged the dress with her sweat, oil, and makeup. Additionally, her wearing it meant that it left a temperature-controlled vault. In other words, the dress could have easily been damaged beyond repair. Fashion historian Keren Ben-Horin told the Daily Beast that she believed Ripley's made an "unethical choice" by allowing Kardashian to wear it. The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Costume, Fashion, and Textiles agrees, as they condemned Ripley's for lending Kardashian a dress that they believed should be protected.

Some, however, believe that Kardashian wearing Monroe's dress makes perfect sense, as both have endured being over-sexualized throughout their careers, only to become the world's most famous women (per Buzzfeed). Others, like Slate, add that Ripley's is not a museum and therefore has no moral obligation to preserve Monroe's dress.