Kim Kardashian has finally addressed accusations that she damaged Marilyn Monroe's famous "naked" dress when she wore the iconic gown to the Met Gala last month.
"The Kardashians" star, who rendered textile conservators and fashion historians "speechless" upon donning the delicate 1962 gown, said Tuesday on NBC News' "Today" that she did not damage the dress when she wore it for "minutes" for the red-carpet portion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute gala.
Photos showing apparent wear and tear on the historic dress renewed the controversy last week, but Kardashian doubled down on her handling of the "Some Like It Hot" star's glittering garment and the care that owner Ripley's Believe It or Not! took in loaning it to her.
The media-savvy mogul, who had been mum on the bubbling controversy, started off by saying she couldn't believe that people on social media didn't know who Monroe was. That is, apparently, until the reality star represented the iconic midcentury superstar at the gilded glamour-themed affair.
"That was the most shocking thing thing to me and that's why I was so happy to at least have that opportunity and that Ripley's gave me the opportunity to share this moment so that ... it could live on," Kardashian, 41, told co-anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie after they brought it up.
"I respect her [Monroe]. I understand how much this dress means to American history. And with the [gala] theme being American, I thought, 'What is more American than Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to the president of the United States?'" she said.
Monroe's souffle Jean Louis dress, sketched by a young Bob Mackie, has been described as a "stunt" dress and "the original naked dress." The "Seven-Year Itch" star had to be sewn into the piece ahead of her 1962 performance at a Madison Square Garden fundraiser that took place a few months before her death. That's when she sang a breathless "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy, to whom she was romantically linked.
Monroe was the only person who had ever worn the gown. Because of its historical significance, conservators and historians lamented the garment's outing, fearing that Kardashian wearing it would set back preservation efforts. They argued that even microscopic damage could have long-term effects on the garment. (Mackie also told Entertainment Weekly that Kardashian wearing it was "a big mistake.")
Ripley's claimed that it took "great care to preserve this piece of history," despite earlier footage showing the Skims founder not able to pull the dress up on her body during a fitting and before-and-after photos that upset fashion historians anew.
"I mean, it was such a process," Kardashian tried to explain Tuesday. "I had to change. ... I showed up to the red carpet in a robe and slippers. And I put the dress on at the bottom of the carpet. Went up the stairs — I probably had it on for three, four minutes — and then I changed right at the top of the stairs."
Interjected Kotb: "So all of the [controversy], we keep seeing stuff like 'the dress is ruined,' 'the dress is this... .' All of that is not true?"
"No, and I mean, Ripley's, we worked together so well," Kardashian said. "There was handlers in gloves that put it on me."
Ripley's, a privately owned, for-profit attractions company that owns Monroe's gown, also insisted last week that Kardashian "did not cause damage to Marilyn Monroe's famed 'Happy Birthday' dress from 1962" and that Kardashian wore a duplicate gown for the remainder of the event. Ripley's said it did not pay her to wear the dress for the event and Kardashian didn't pay the organization; instead, Kardashian opted to make a donation to charitable organizations on Ripley's behalf.
"I looked at it like a role and I really wanted to wear this dress. Like, it was really important to me," Kardashian added Tuesday, also addressing her dramatic 16-pound weight loss to fit into the gown — another controversy her Met Gala showing yielded.
"And it actually taught me a lot about my lifestyle and my health and since then, afterwards, I continue to eat really healthy. I'm down 21 pounds now. I'm not trying to lose any more weight but I have more energy than ever, I cut out so much sugar, a lot of junk food I was eating, I didn't even realize it ... and I just completely changed my lifestyle."
Kardashian's wide-ranging interview — set to plug her new SKKN by Kim skin care collection — also hit on her split from rapper Kanye West, their children, her sister Khloe Kardashian's struggles, her law career and her own relationship with "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson. She also addressed a controversial quote she recently gave the New York Times about potentially being willing to "eat poop every single day" if it meant she would look younger.
"I think you get to a place where you're at peace with aging — and I'm totally there — but I will do everything I can to make sure I look and feel my best," she clarified Tuesday.
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This story was originally published June 21, 2022 6:02 PM.