Fashion Analysis: Marilyn Monroe

Charles Ekert argued that Hollywood has given modern consumerism a distinctive bent. This assertion can be confirmed through starlet Marilyn Monroe who became an icon of fashion during her life as an actress of Hollywood. Monroe demonstrates how film has influenced the consumption of fashion. It is apparently clear that Monroe’s consumption of fashion was influenced by her role in the film industry. In recent film “My Week with Marilyn”, Michelle Williams acts as Marilyn Monroe, and underscored the idea that beauty and fame does not always present a good picture. However, the real Monroe who was at the peak of her career in 1956 was aggressive about fashion and beauty in her role as a sex symbol starlet, although she also graved to be a great actress. This indicates how individuals in the film industry have become key players in modern consumerism, especially in relation to fashion. Monroe’s consumption of fashion was motivated by her role in the film industry. This can be explained through her influence in fashion during her time as a participant in cinema and through Michelle Williams in the film “My Week with Marilyn”.

Marilyn Monroe was a great fashion icon in 1960s. She was born in 1926 and died on August 5, 1962. She was an international sex symbol during her time as a starlet in the old Hollywood (Spoto, 2001). Through her aggressiveness with fashion, she demonstrated a great twist to embrace pop culture. Monroe immensely influenced pop culture through her role in cinemas and aggressiveness with fashion. She attracted masses with her classic movie appeal and glamorous good looks. Her fashion and style made her sensational; attracting and gaining attention from many people across the film industry. Although Marilyn died at a young age, she remains a legend for her influence in fashion and film industry.

For Monroe, fashion and filming were interrelated. Her white dress designed by William Travilla in 1955 remains one of the leading dresses designed at that time. It got attention from the masses, and made her stunning in films and cinemas. Marilyn Monroe wore the dress in a film called “The Seven Year Itch”. It created a sensational and thrilling feeling in the film industry. The dress appeared in the film when Marilyn Monroe exited the Trans-Lux 52nd Street Theatre (Spoto, 2001). As the wind blew the dress up, Monroe’s legs were exposed. Initially, the film was intended to shoot outside Trans-Lux. However, Monroe’s fashion attracted attention and curiosity of hundreds of fans. As a result, the film was scheduled to re-shoot at 20th century fox. This indicated that film influenced the fashion significantly. Hollywood films influenced fashion because the masses were strongly attracted by the fashion of Hollywood starlets including Marilyn Monroe. Fashion Encyclopedia (n.d.) suggests that costume designers in Hollywood had a significant role in determining fashion trends. This explains why film fans were attracted by Monroe’s white dress fashion.

Even today, white dresses are still common in the film industry. For instance, Michelle Williams wears a white dress in the new film “My Week with Marilyn”. Michelle, who acts the part of Monroe in the film, wears a white dress in order to be seen as Monroe. This is a common practice in the pop culture whereby Hollywood actors become role models in the film industry. The fashions of actors and actresses in the film industry have been adopted by film industry fans in American and European film industries. The mode of expression of Hollywood has gained attention by teenagers (ThinkQuest, n.d.). In the pop culture, teenagers are trying to fit into new modes. The re-emergence of Marilyn Monroe through Michelle Williams has aroused an interest in glamorous looks by the masses. The film industry comes up with a new mode, and the masses are ready to adopt them. Fashion is one of these new modes.

It is clear that film industry influences fashion through pop culture. Similarly, the pop culture has improved the significance of fashion in the film industry. In other words, the pop culture affects fashion trends and fashion influences pop culture. This shows that the film industry and fashion are connected by the pop culture. Marilyn Monroe acted at a time when popular culture was a common culture among many fans in the film industry. She acted for a short period but she remains a top legend in the film industry until today. She acted in films such as The Seven Year Itch and How to Marry a Millionaire. She also featured in hits such as “Let’s Make Love and the Misfits”, and “some like it hot”. In all the films and music that Monroe acted, she was a famous fashion icon. She had bodacious curves, flirtatious eyes and full lips.

Since she died, Monroe has been emulated by other celebrities including Michelle Williams. Madona and Christine Aguilera are also some of the modern celebrities who have been transformed into the pop culture by the influence of Monroe. Some of the fashions that have been adopted by the modern celebrities from Monroe include: sexy aura, blonde locks and red lips. Until today, Monroe’s face still apears several items including lunch boxes, t-shirts, posters, key chains and license plates.

Monroe’s iconic fashion is not only seen in the type of clothes and hairstyles that she keeps, but also seen in her looks. As a sex symbol in films, she is famous for hertkiller curves and highly seductive character. She wore a white halter dress in the film “The Seven Year Itch” which demonstrated an iconic fashion symbol that perfectly fitted her curves. The most unique aspect of Monroe’s iconic fashion is her own-signature look. This look is still recognized and emulated by the pop culture until today. The look was a combination of blonde curls, dramatic eyelashes, red lipstick and high-arched brows (Urbanity Chic, 2011). This classic and unique look is and will forever be referred to as “the Monroe Style”.

The sensational look of Marilyn Monroe received both applauses and criticisms. Her tight fitting clothes were accepted and adopted by some people. Some people criticized the clothing style of the starlet because her clothes were daring and revealed most parts of her body. In “My Week with Marilyn”, Michelle Williams tends to put across the idea that fame and fashion do not portray a good image. The international sex symbol idea was catapulted by her sex appeal and ditzy blonde. Monroe is still recognized in film industry for her fashion. In 1999, she was recognized among the top ten greatest female stars in the 100 stars list history of American Film Industry. Urbanic City (2011) argues that Marilyn Monroe’s stardom was due to her sexy clothes and blonde character. Obviously, Hollywood has evolved since her death. However, her legend relives in Hollywood from generation to generation through her fashion.

The fact that Marilyn Monroe has attracted both criticisms and support from many people even five decades after her death suggests that her aggression for fashion influenced the film industry significantly. Film makers, actors and actresses still follow her fashion and style. She is still vocal and visible in the film industry and her fashion still lives in her fans’ memories until today. This proposition is supported by New York Times (n.d.); fashion keeps repeating film industry. Fashion Encyclopedia also proposes that dresses worn films are often copied by retailers. This observation has been proven by Marilyn Monroe’s white dress of 1955 which was copied by retailers several years after it was used in the film industry (Spoto, 2001). It is always common to encounter a woman who purchases low-priced copy dresses of celebrities in a department store. Monroe’s fashion lived and still lives for a long period because her dresses are still copied in department stores and retailers. In cinemas and films, we still see women dressed in Monroe’s fashion.

One of the most controversial issues in Monroe’s fashion was a scandal of March 1952 when two nude photos of somebody resembling her were featured on calendars. Monroe agreed that she posed for the photos in 1949 because she was desperately in need of money for her rent. Later, the nude photos appeared in Playboy in 1953 as the sexiest image. The nude photo showed Marilyn with an upraised, stretching on velvet. The image made the new playboy magazine a success in 1950s (Spoto, 2001). Thereafter, she appeared in several other magazines including Life Magazine. Since then, magazines have endlessly used nude and sexy images of women as marketing tools. Therefore, Monroe became one of the pioneering characters in the film industry to promote the success of theatre and arts.

Marilyn Monroe did not end her starlet career in 1950s. In 1960s, the actress was still a star in the film industry. She participated in the filming of “Something’s Got to Give” in 1962. This was to be her third film among the four films that were included in her contract with 20th Century Fox which included four films. The director of the film was George Cukor. Monroe starred in the film alongside Cyd Charisse and Dean Martin (Nickens & Zeno, 2012). However, Monroe appeared in only 12 out of the possible 35 appearances in the film. As a result, she was dismissed and a law suit was filed against her by 20th Century Fox. She later engaged in high-profile publicity including several nude photographs. The nude photos were later published after her death and were referred to as, “The Last Sitting”. The fact that Monroe landed on high-profile publicities even after she was dismissed and sued by 20th Century Fox indicates that her influence in the film industry was just immense. This is highly attributed to her fashion and style. She never feared to take nude photos, and she wore sexy clothes. This fashion attracted the public and she got attention from many people. This indicates that fashion has a great influence on film industry.

After the death of Monroe, she still lived on in the lives of many people. The film industry kept her alive through her fashion. Her photographs were used throughout United States, and her heir sued photographers who used Monroe’s photographs to establish their publicity rights. New-York’s judge ruled that the publicity rights of the actress ceased when she died (Nickens & Zeno, 2012). Even with the ceasing of her publicity, Monroe’s fashion lived on. In 1992, the founder of Playboy Magazine bought Marilyn Monroe’s crypt because Monroe had graced her first photograph to Playboy magazine. This indicates that even to his grave she still influenced people from the film industry.

One of the notable films that kept the fashion of Marilyn Monroe alive was “My Week with Marilyn. This film shows how Marilyn still influences fashion in today’s film industry. In the film, Michelle Williams who acted as Monroe demonstrated how Monroe looked like in her sequined dress, how her looks made her sexy, and how her expression was airy. However, the film also unfolds another Marilyn Monroe who is not sure of herself. She wants to be a great actress, but she doubts herself and questions her ability to measure up to the required standards of natural talent in the film industry (Fox, 2011). This film brings the image of Monroe of 1952 who were necessitated by problems to use her fashion to earn a living in the film industry. Monroe’s fashion has therefore influenced the film industry until today.

My week With Marilyn is a story about Marilyn Monroe’s London trip. This film involves Monroe’s attempt to get through the film of Sir Laurence Olivier, “The Prince and the Showgirl”, as a famous actress, and the relationship that she developed with Collin Clark (Fox, 2011). Collin Clerk was a film student.

Some characters in the film including Olivier and Milton Greene wondered why Marilyn chose to spend time with a young man likes Collin barely in her twenties and with no experience in show business. Greene tells Clark that there is nothing special about Marilyn. He told him, “she breaks hearts and she will break yours too.” Indeed, she broke Clark’s heart; but Clark was a man to be relied on (Fox, 2011). He had a youthful innocence and sincere concern for the wellbeing of Marilyn. As the relationship between Monroe and Clark progressed against all odds, Clark got a chance to meet the real Marilyn. This woman was completely different from the one on the stage. This one was a starlet born of a mother in an insane asylum and unidentified father. Her childhood was affected by the abandonment, and she carried the remorse into adulthood.

Marilyn’s view and position regarding fashion was somehow influenced by her desire to become a great actress. In 1956, she told Olivier that she was not just a common sex symbol who provides smiles and golden performances. She was determined to her technique, accuracy of lines, and precision of movement (Fox, 2012). This ambition left her frustrated. She took more time to endure her problems through patience.

Williams told Clark that people always saw as Monroe, and when they realize that she was not her they would run away. Williams underscored the frustration of Monroe trying to become someone else, while people have developed an image of glamour and lusty mystery in her (Fox, 2012). In the film, Monroe and Clark met a crowd of enlightened fans. Monroe asks Clark whether she should be her or not. Finally, she chooses to be herself because the best way to show a struggle with fame and identity was to provide a scene in which the best character, performance and imitation is of yourself.

Generally “My Week with Marilyn” was a production of Clark, which demonstrated his experience with Marilyn Monroe and the woman she had met, Marilyn. This story created several decades after the death of Marilyn Monroe shows that Monroe’s story was not just about her trademark dress, but many issues of identity and fame. However, the theme of fashion in the film industry is underscored in both Marilyn Monroe’s films and Clark’s “My Week with Marilyn.” The new film seemingly resurrected Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams who plays her part in this film has similar dresses as those worn by Marilyn in 1950s. Therefore, fashion still has a strong link with film industry.

In conclusion, it is clear that fashion has a great influence in film industry. The culture of fashion is also determined by the film industry as people choose to wear clothes that appear in films and cinemas. Celebrities in film industry like Marilyn Monroe dictate the trend of fashion. As celebrities change their fashion to suit their environments and filming themed, the culture of fashion generally changes in the society. For example, the pop culture allows people to develop new fashion whenever they experience it in the film industry. The influence of fashion in the film industry is also still common today as people copy what celebrities wear in the film industry.


References list

Fashion Encyclopedia (n.d.). Hollywood Influences Fashion. Accessed January 26, 2014 from   

Fox, D. (2012). Review: My Week with Marilyn. Accessed January 26, 2014 from   

New York Times (n.d.). Fashion and Styles: Films Influence on Fashion, hen and now. Accessed January 25, 2014 from

Nickens, C., & Zeno, G. (2012). Marilyn in fashion: The enduring influence of Marilyn Monroe.    Philadelphia: Running Press Book Pub.

Spoto, D. (2001). Marilyn Monroe: the biography. Cooper Square Press.

ThinkQuest (n.d.). How Pop Culture Affects Teens: Fashion. Accessed January 26, 2014 from   

Urban City (2011). Fashion Icon: Marilyn Monroe. Accessed January 26, 2014 from   

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