Marilyn Monroe's pink dress

Marilyn Monroe's pink dress
Designer William Travilla
Year 1953 (1953)
Type Pink dress
Material Satin

Marilyn Monroe wore a shocking pink dress in the 1953 film Gentleman Prefer Blondes, directed by Howard Hawks.[1] The dress was created by costume designer William Travilla and was used in one of the most famous scenes of the film, which subsequently became the subject of numerous imitations, significantly from Madonna in the music video for her song "Material Girl".[2]


When the costume designer William Travilla, known simply as Travilla, began working with Marilyn Monroe, he had already won an Oscar for his work in Adventures of Don Juan in 1948. Travilla designed the clothes of the actress in eight films, and later claimed to have had a brief affair with Monroe.[3] In 1953 Travilla designed the costumes for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes including the shocking pink dress worn by Monroe in the role of the character of Lorelei Lee in the famous sequence in which the actress sings the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", the choreography accompanied by several suitors in dinner clothes.

The dress was auctioned on 11 June 2010, with an estimated price of between $150,000 and $250,000 and described as "the most important film costume to ever come to auction".[4] At the end the dress sold for $310,000. However, according to some people, the dress sold at auction was not the original one worn by Marilyn Monroe. Some have claimed that the dress worn by the actress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was lined inside with felt, to remain rigid during the choreography, not the one sold at auction.[5] William Travilla, quoted in Dressing Marilyn by Andrew Hansford, stated that "Apart from the two side seams, the dress was folded into shape rather like cardboard. Any other girl would have looked like she was wearing cardboard, but on screen I swear you would have thought Marilyn had on a pale, thin piece of silk. Her body was so fabulous it still came through." [6]


The satin dress, designed by William Travilla, is a strapless, floor-length shocking pink dress with straight neckline, with uncovered arms and broad shoulders and side slits.[7] The dress is decorated with a big bow on the back and a thin strap, both in the same shade of her dress. The dress was complemented by a pair of long gloves to match almost to the shoulders and many jewels, diamonds, according to the subject of the song that the actress sings. The dress is satin and is a shade of pink often identified as "shocking pink".

Over the years the pink dress has become an icon of fashion and film, and like her white dress is often imitated and parodied. One of the most famous of all is the one represented by the singer Madonna in the Material Girl video.[8] The singer later admitted to hating the dress as it was difficult to wear during the movement. In 1990, Ayesha Walker (known as Lorelei Lei after the character) walked down the aisle in Healing Church in Chatham wearing a replica of the pink dress.[9]

In a segment entitled "Material Girl" in the 1997 Playboy Video, Playboy's Voluptuous Vixens, SaRenna Lee capitalized on her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe by appearing in a pink dress designed for her zaftig shape.

Mexican entertainers Thalia and Aida Pierce each wore similar shocking pink dresses. Thalia wore a replica of this dress while performing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in Spain in 1991, and Pierce wore a similar pink dress in a 2001 episode of Humor es...los comediantes as a tribute to Monroe (2001 would have been Monroe's 75th birthday).

In the computer game The Sims: Superstar expansion pack published in 2003, the player can see the character of Marilyn Monroe, dressed in the same famous shocking pink dress. It was also produced as a Mattel Barbie doll with Barbie wearing Monroe's pink dress.[10]

In 2008, Paris Hilton paid tribute to the actress wearing a magenta satin strapless dress similar to that of Marilyn Monroe at the preview of the movie The Hottie and the Nottie. In reference to Monroe, Paris Hilton had said in 2006: "There is nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has its own icon blonde - like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana - and right now, I'm that icon." [11]

In 2015, a suit worn by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, auctioned for $690,000 was compared with Marilyn Monroe's pink dress.[12]

In the third episode of the second season of the American television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch wears a blue version of the dress while singing "The Math of Love Triangles."[13]


  1. "Willam Travilla biography". Film Reference. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  2. "Marilyn Monroe's 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' dress up for auction". The Telegraph. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  3. "She was the easiest person I ever worked with". Loving Marilyn. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  4. "Marilyn Monroe's Pink Satin 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' Dress to Be Auctioned". 4 May 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  5. "Marilyn Monroe Pink Gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Sells at Auction for $310,000.00, But Was It The One?". The Marilyn Monroe Collection. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  6. 'Dressing Marilyn' by Andrew Hansford, published by Goodman
  7. Meyers, Jeffrey (25 January 2010). The genius and the goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. University of Illinois Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-252-03544-9. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  8. Mansour, David (1 June 2005). From Abba to Zoom: a pop culture encyclopedia of the late 20th century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-7407-5118-9. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  9. Weekly World News. Weekly World News. 23 October 1990. p. 6. ISSN 0199-574X. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  10. O'Brien, Karen (6 November 2006). Toys & Prices 2007. Krause Publications. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-89689-333-7. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  11. "Blonde ambition: Paris Hilton pays homage to bombshell Marilyn Monroe". The Daily Mail. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  12. Modi’s suit beats Marilyn Monroe’s pink dress with $690,000 sale, Rakteem Katakey, Bloomberg, February 20, 2015
  13. Villarreal, Yvonne. "The midnight bath behind the making of 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's' big Marilyn Monroe parody".
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