Marilyn Monroe's lasting style legacy

More than any other star, Marilyn Monroe is remembered for what she wore.

From Bella Hadid, to Rihanna and Beyonce - Marilyn Monroe's style legacy has continued to be a source of red carpet inspiration for leading ladies. 

From the sheer gown she wore for JFK’s 45th birthday gala, to the glittering red showgirl number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe's show-stopping, history-making movie costume and red carpet style continue to move the world today.

Marilyn understood the potent power of clothing – she was a trailblazer, and in her short life, she completely revolutionised the female image.

Her style has undoubtedly served as inspiration for some of the most breathtaking red carpet moments in recent years.

In honour of one of the 20th century’s greatest icons, and her influential, charged style – we’ve pinpointed a few recent red carpet looks torn from the pages of Marilyn’s style history.

The happy birthday JFK dress

The dress Marilyn Monroe wore to JFK’s 45th birthday celebrations in May 1952 may be one of the most famous dresses ever to exist. Made of one layer of very sheer, figure-hugging silk, and layered with thousands of tiny rhinestone crystals – Marilyn appeared near-nude on stage to croon Happy Birthday Mr President, covered only in a layer of glittering diamonds.

A tonne of fresh versions of that seminal fashion moment have cropped up on recent red carpets. Perhaps the best to date is Rihanna’s take for the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards by up-and-coming it-designer Adam Selman.

Beyonce and Kim Kardashian’s beaded Givenchy gowns for the Met Gala in 2015 are honourable mentions.

The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes red showgirl dress

In the 1953 classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn was billed under the more widely known 1940s sex symbol, Jane Russel. Though, in the opening scene of the film, a platinum blonde Marilyn stole the show in her floor length red sequin gown, which featured a controversial thigh-high split.

Sequined or sultry, red dresses for the red carpet continue to demand attention and power – like Bella Hadid’s jaw-dropping Alexandre Vauthier gown at Cannes in 2016, which has served to cement her as one of the most recognised models in the world.

There was also Beyonce’s glory run at the Grammy’s last year while pregnant with twins in a glittering Peter Dundas gown, and Thandie Newton in a scarlet Commes des Garcons number at the Met Gala in 2017, following the absolute success of HBO’s West World.

The gold dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Cut from a single circle of gold lame fabric with sunburst pleats, Marilyn had to be sewn into the iconic gilded dress. The scene in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that features the dress was eventually cut by censors, as it was deemed to revealing and proactive for the general public.

Marilyn loved the dress, and pitched to wear it to the 1953 Photoplay Awards. She was named Most Popular Female Star - Hollywood royalty in glowing gold.

Since then, gold lame has become a show-stopping device for a number of red carpet moments. Anne Hathaway’s statuesque Ralph Lauren hooded gown at the 2015 Met Gala was a powerful fashion moment for the actress.

Beyonce's Ellie Saab dress at the 2007 Golden Globes echoes Marilyn's original, as does Margot Robbie's Tom Ford Gown at the 2016 Oscars, and Rose Byrne's ruffled Ralph Lauren at the Met Gala in 2016. 

Learn more about the lasting legacy of Marilyn Monroe's iconic style in August on Lifestyle YOU.

Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime premieres on Lifestyle YOU on Tuesday 1 August at 9.30pm.

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