This weekend marked an extremely important date in entertainment history – the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. It seems shocking that it’s been a half century already since the Hollywood star departed this earth – her fame is not in the slightest diminished, and if anything her tragic death at the age of 36 has only increased her legendary intrigue.
Of all the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, she is one of the few who is just as readily recognisable to young people of today as she is to those who came of age during her film heyday. In fact, her very image has entered our cultural consciousness – the heavy-lashed eyes, full red lips, pale skin and perfectly coiffed platinum hair have achieved iconic status in the worlds of fashion and film. It’s an image decidedly associated with the actress and immortalised by Andy Warhol in his colourful print depiction of Monroe, and even when imitated by stars of today is still linked back to her. Think Gwen Stefani’s red lips and pale curls, or Madonna’s imitation of the star throughout her Blonde Ambition tour – check out the Material Girl video for an example:
Monroe clearly possessed a great talent and ambition, but was often thwarted by her own vulnerability and a tendency not to be taken seriously. The mysterious circumstances of her death still form the basis of numerous conspiracy theories, while her complicated personal life and intense unhappiness in later years have made her the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation. But controversy aside, it is Marilyn’s inimitable persona that has contributed most to her endless fascination – that distinctive blend of unbridled, voluptuous sensuality mixed with incongruous little-girl naivety that became her trademark. As much as the popularity of this persona made it difficult for Monroe to escape its narrow typecasting, it did add considerably to her allure.
Even the celebrities of today are eager to capture some trace of that appeal. Many big-name actresses (and lesser stars) have portrayed or posed as Monroe, and others have admitted to a personal obsession with their hero. Megan Fox famously had Monroe’s face tattooed on her forearm, although she subsequently got it removed to avoid attracting the same kind of negative energy that affected Monroe. Lindsay Lohan named her fashion line, 6126, after the star’s birthday, while Mariah Carey went one step further by naming her child Monroe. Most tragically, Anna Nicole Smith modelled her looks and her life on that of her hero, but sadly ended up following a similar path, also dying in her late thirties of a drugs overdose.
Audiences nowadays are in no danger of forgetting Monroe, it seems – she has been the subject of multiple films, plays, books and other portrayals over the years. Most recently, Michelle Williams garnered an Oscar nomination for her depiction of the conflicted star in My Week with Marilyn (2011). The film sparked a revival of interest in Monroe’s classic yet sexy style, with figure-flattering shapes that accented her curves.
Interested in capturing a bit of Marilyn’s Monroe’s style yourself? We’ve put together some outfit suggestions based on the star’s glamorous looks: