The ultimate movie goddess would be celebrating her 93rd birthday today. Of course, Marilyn Monroe, is forever frozen in time as a 36 year old, dying from a (supposed) overdose in August 1962.
I have been obsessed with Marilyn since I saw her picture in a library book my mom had taken out when I was about 7 or 8. She looked like a golden girl, a technicolor queen who just sparkled in both still images and films. All these years on and she is still a source of endless fascination, whether it be because her films stand the test of time (Some Like It Hot and Gentleman Prefer Blondes being particular favourites of mine), the intrigue and conspiracies surrounding her mysterious death, or her endless quotable comments. But I think the reason Marilyn is so relevant when it comes to style is that, even though she died more than 50 years ago, she still looks utterly modern in pretty much every picture.
When you examining Marilyn’s fashion moments, you always include those on film as well as her personal wardrobe. And this is totally understandable, Marilyn often borrowed clothes from the costume department at Twentieth Century Fox for premieres and events, and her early film costumes were often made up of items from her own wardrobe, so the lines between her film goddess style and personal wardrobe were often blurred. On screen Marilyn made fashion headlines that continue to resonate, her white sunray pleated dress that was designed by Travilla, and was blown above her head on the subway grate in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ continues to be an inspiration for designers and the icon of Summer style.
In her personal life Marilyn was just as much an innovator and icon as we now see Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. She was one of the first stars to wear jeans for casual wear, both on screen and off, and she was an early supporter of Pucci and his psychedelic prints that would be a major story in the 1960s. She could turn on the bombshell style with ease, but could also do sleek and sophisticated in Norman Norell little black dresses and simple shift styles.
One of her last shoots was a high fashion one for American Vogue, this was not published until after her death, but shows the direction that Marilyn’s style was moving in. The dark wig and nod to Jackie Kennedy showed she had lost non of her naughtiness though.
If you are interested in Marilyn’s style, the bible is Marilyn in Fashion, I would highly recommend it.