We all know Marilyn Monroe, her face is instantly recognizable, we acknowledge her tremendous beauty and everyone agrees that she is a Hollywood cinematic legend. That being said, not many people realize the gigantic impact she had on the fashion industry as a whole.
In today’s overtly sexualized world, it’s hard for us to imagine a time when sex wasn’t synonymous with popular culture. It might seem like a grand statement, but all of that is mostly because of Marilyn Monroe and her enormously lasting impact.
She invented the bombshell! In the 1950’s when her career exploded, her image was viewed as repulsive and offensive by many. Her little outfits, her breathy voice and blatant sexuality were seen as very improper.
Monroe used it to her advantage, knowing full well that it would set her apart and get her more work. Little did she know it would totally transform american culture. Marilyn Monroe single-handedly made it OK to be sexually attractive. Her image has since become an icon of femininity and sexuality.
She embraced her curvaceous figure, highlighted her assets and minimized her flaws. In using her body as a tool, she mixed sex and fashion yielding tremendous results.
”She knew exactly how to get the effect she wanted with black jersey, fine silk-crepe or a solid nimbus of skintight sequins’‘ according to Meredith Etherington-Smith, ex-editor of Paris Vogue. She worked closely with some of the costume designers from her films to create looks for herself off-camera. She found little known designers and propelled them to fame by wearing their designs (Ferragamo, Gucci, Oleg Cassini, Emilio Pucci, etc.) She even stole ideas from other milieus and used them to her advantage, such as wearing a thong under a dress to eliminate panty-lines, after having seen the garments at a burlesque show.
She was a fashion visionary who brought body-conscious clothing to the masses. We owe her much more than we think, her influence is gargantuan!
You can read more about Marilyn’s influence on fashion in the fascinating book Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe, by Christopher Nickens & George Zeno.