Friends, by now you've all probably heard about the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood costume and memorabilia auction that happened last weekend. The big news: Marilyn Monroe's infamous "subway dress" went for $4.6 million.
For that price it should have sleeves.
(NOTE: you can download a PDF of the auction catalog here, and I highly recommend you do. It was an amazing collection and beautifully documented in this catalog.)
Ten years ago I saw the soon-to-be auctioned Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collection on display at Christies and saw the famous Jean Louis "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" barely-there gown. That one fetched $1,150,000, which seems like a bargain by comparison. And it was beaded.
As you know, I am a huge old movie fan and melt at the sight of costumes from classic films. I've blogged about the Diana Vreeland costume exhibit I saw in the Seventies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a child, as well as some of my favorite movie gowns.
Debbie amassed her collection over more than forty years, with a dream of founding a Hollywood memorabilia museum that never quite happened.
The whole thing makes me sad, for Debbie and for us Americans. What larger cultural contribution has America made than "the movies" a.k.a., Hollywood? As I said to someone yesterday, with all the billionaires we now have in this country, couldn't somebody cough up, say, $100 million to keep Debbie's collection intact and viewable by the public? The fact that a dress associated with a famous star could fetch millions reflects the huge, lasting interest in Hollywood history.
Wise readers, your thoughts, please.
Why is this (Marilyn) dress so valuable, other than that we've seen that image upteen times till it's embedded in our DNA? Is it really all that? Have you ever seen The Seven-Year Itch (the movie the dress is from)? It has not aged well, to put it mildly.
Also, do you think these costumes belong in one place -- i.e., a museum -- or is it only fair that they go to those who have the most interest in owning them and perhaps chopping them up into quilting squares and throw pillows?
Is it important, given that the costumes can be seen, as they were intended to be seen, in the films themselves?
I'd love to hear what you think.
I'm going to be gone the rest of this week as I'll be taking care of my mother who gets out of rehab after her hip replacement today. My mother doesn't have a computer -- she tried to master one about five years ago and failed -- nor does she have DSL or any other type of Internet service. Her neighborhood, moreover, though just a (long) subway ride from where I live, is a wi-fi black hole. I will be thoroughly disconnected -- pray for me. I hope to return to daily blogging next week.
BTW, please feel free to read other blogs during my absence. It's healthy and can only strengthen our relationship, in the long run.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!