As the Hollywood style icon is revived on the silver screen once again, we look back at her most memorable dresses

Marilyn Monroe is more alive than ever before. The Hollywood icon is returning to the silver screen, this time through a portrayal by Ana de Armas in the upcoming Netflix film, Blonde.

Adapted from the Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of the same name, the movie follows a fictionalised retelling of Monroe’s life and her transformation from the shy Norma Jeane Baker into one of the world’s biggest movie stars. From the trailer, it looks like we’ll also get to see some of her most memorable outfits come to life once again.

Monroe is as much a style icon as she was a spellbinding actress, so it’s not surprising that her wardrobe of glamorous dresses continue to inspire fashion today. Pop sensation Billie Eilish paid tribute to the Some Like It Hot star when she hosted the Met Gala in 2021, and Kim Kardashian has stirred up much controversy for wearing—and damaging—Monroe’s Jean Louis gown to the red carpet this year.

Read more: Met Gala 2022: Kim Kardashian's 'Marilyn Monroe' Dress. . .Yay or Nay?

Fashion designer Bob Mackie, who made the original sketch for the latter dress, remarked, “It was designed for her. Nobody else should be seen in that dress.” Perhaps not, but we surely wouldn’t mind seeing de Armas in a recreation of the gown as she sings “Happy Birthday, Mr President” in Blonde.

Below, we highlight more of Marilyn Monroe’s historic outfits that we hope to see on screen.

‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ Dress

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: William Travilla / Public Domain

Monroe’s timeless musical number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) needs no introduction. The song, and by extension the pink strapless satin gown she wore, came to represent empowerment through one’s sexual agency. It didn’t matter that the dress, created by Hollywood costume designer William Travilla, was lined with black felt to keep it from being too provocative for the film censors. Monroe, in opera gloves and diamonds, still managed to exude glamour and sex appeal—and little wonder that it has been reimagined endlessly by women like ‘Material Girl’ Madonna, Margot Robbie, and Kylie Jenner.

Read more: Wizard of Oz, Vertigo, Casablanca, And More: 13 Old Hollywood Movies To Rewatch ASAP

Gold Lamé Gown

Tatler Asia
American actress, singer, model and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Above Photo: Getty Images

Unlike the previous dress, this Travilla design did not pass Hollywood’s censors, and Monroe is only shown wearing it briefly in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Nonetheless, it has enjoyed an enduring legacy. The exquisite design was made from a circle of shining, gold lamé fabric, and featured sunburst pleating throughout, making Monroe look like a glowing goddess. Many other Hollywood stars would go on to wear versions of the dress, including Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield and Ginger Rogers—but nobody has pulled it off better.

In case you missed it: Get Your Hands on Marilyn Monroe's Cookbook, Now Up for Auction

‘The Seven Year Itch’ Dress

Tatler Asia
Film star Marilyn Monroe poses over a Manhattan subway grate as the wind blows her white dress up. Photographers capture the moment on camera, which takes place on September 16, 1954, during the filming of Seven Year Itch. Reportedly, Monroe's husband Joe DiMaggio was displeased at the attention his wife received from the crowds.
Above Photo: Getty Images

Travilla was responsible for many of Monroe’s dresses, but none are more famous than the white halterneck dress she wears in the 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch. Crafted from georgette crepe, the dress took on a significant role in the film when wind from a subway grate sends it fluttering up, revealing Monroe’s bare legs—and creating an image for the ages. The “silly little dress,” as Travilla later called it, embodied the delicate blend of innocence and seduction that Monroe mastered, and has since become synonymous with the star herself.

Hot Pink Wiggle Dress

Monroe had another pink frock of note: the wiggle dress that she wears in Niagara. Featuring a cutout right under the bust, the satin dress would certainly not look out of place today. Costume designers Charles Le Maire and Dorothy Jeakins created it to capture the allure of the 1953 film’s anti-heroine, embellishing it with a bow and a flashy fuchsia shade that, like Monroe, was impossible to ignore.

Golden Globes Dress

Tatler Asia
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 5: Actress Marilyn Monroe attends the Golden Globe Awards where she won the "Henrietta" award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 5, 1962 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Above Photo: Getty Images

Although Norman Norell is not a name many may know today, the fashion designer was a favourite of Monroe’s. “The American Balenciaga”, as he was dubbed for his use of couture techniques, was best known for his Mermaid evening gowns, which came completely covered in sequins. (Fun fact: one of them appears in Euphoria, worn by Alexa Demie.) Monroe attended the 1962 Golden Globes in a glittering green one to receive the Henrietta Award for World Film Favorite Female. The gown has since been procured by Kim Kardashian, who wore (and possibly altered) it after the Met Gala this year.

Wedding Dress

Monroe enlisted Norell to design a gown for her wedding to playwright Arthur Miller in 1956. The figure-hugging dress featured a square neckline, an empire waist, a ruched bust and short, sheer sleeves that matched Monroe’s tulle veil. In short, it was sweet and simple, allowing the bride’s radiance to shine through. Norell earned his second Coty Award (the predecessor to the CFDA Award) for it, and although Monroe’s marriage would sour, the dress left a beautiful memory.

Oscar Dress

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: The Academy / Facebook

Believe it or not, Monroe was not a regular at the Academy Awards. The actress only attended the Oscars in 1951, when she presented the award for Best Sound Mixing to Thomas P. Moulton. Her single appearance, however, was a memorable one, largely thanks to the black tulle gown she had borrowed from the 20th Century Fox wardrobe. The off-shoulder ballgown was undoubtedly inspired by Dior’s New Look, which was trending at the time. And it was originally made by Hollywood costume designer Renié for the film The House on Telegraph Hill, but Monroe made it her own by accessorising it with a white fur stole and Cartier jewellery. A blonde Billie Eilish, evoking Monroe, took to the 2021 Met Gala in an Oscar de la Renta gown meant to resemble that very dress.

Tatler Asia
© 2023 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.