Fashion standards may be about to change thanks to reality TV celebrity, Kim Kardashian, who dared to wear an old designer piece first worn by iconic American actress Marilyn Monroe.
After Kanye West’s ex-wife appeared at this year’s MET Gala wearing the same dress Marilyn Monroe wore in 1962 to sing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to then-President John F. Kennedy, the outrage was such that the International Council of Museums (ICOM) had to make a statement regarding the use of historical pieces.
After internal deliberations, the ICOM members reached a drastic conclusion: “Historic garments should not be worn by anybody, public or private figures.”
Kim Kardashian’s sin
ICOM has a Museum Code of Ethics which, by its own definition, “sets minimum professional standards and encourages the recognition of values shared” by museums. After Kim Kardashian used the valuable Monroe piece, valued at about $5 million, the Code’s rules were slightly modified.
“These guidelines indicate that in order to take good care of a piece, it should be handled as little as possible; it should be not washed or cleaned by anyone except a trained conservator, it must be handled with cotton gloves and without any perfume, skincare or make up on, and jewelry should not be worn to avoid catching on any loose threads,” reads the ICOM statement.
They also indicate that historic garments should be handled only by trained personnel, and the conditions of humidity, lighting, and temperature should be in accordance with the regulations, designed for the preservation of the pieces according to the material and age.
“Although the dress belongs to a private collection, the heritage must be understood as belonging to humanity, regardless of which institution has custody of the property,” ICOM continues in the missive. “As museum professionals, we strongly recommend all museums to avoid lending historic garments to be worn, as they are artifacts of the material culture of its time, and they must be kept preserved for future generations.”
Monroe’s historic garment was custom-designed for her by French creator Jean Louis, who sewed the dress on the actress’ silhouette to fit her figure as closely as possible and chose the color that most closely matched her skin to give a sense of nudity.
The dress was made of silk soufflé, a material that is no longer available on the market, so ICOM considers it “irreplaceable.”