THE MARILYN EDITION

Marilyn’s mystique
 
Marilyn Monroe was her own creation, a powerful illusion of sex and glamour with a touch of innocence. Decades after her death, and in age when celebrities vie to be uber thin, the voluptuous, womanly Marilyn remains the ultimate screen sex goddess. 
 
Young actresses try to recreate her allure. Even Madonna shot to fame vamping as Marilyn, as she sang Material Girl in a copy of Monroe’s signature pink gown from the show-stopping number Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend.
 
Scholars have tried to analyze Marilyn. There are volumes detailing her transformation from pretty brunette to blonde bombshell. 
 
But no one was more instrumental in helping to develop Marilyn’s signature style than designer William Travilla. He created not only her fabulous gown in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but also the famous white dress that blew up over her hips in The Seven Year Itch, and many sexy red carpet gowns.
 
In Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla, I was fascinated to learn the story behind that famous pink gown. This fabulous book by Andrew Hansford and Karen Homer is full of sketches, photos, and anecdotes about the clothes that were an intrinsic part of Marilyn’s mystique.
 
Would you be surprised to learn that it was designed to conceal Marilyn’s body – not show it off? Look carefully and you will notice that this sexy dress has no cleavage or thigh-high slits. The reason? The movie studio had spent a fortune on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but was not happy that nude photos of their star surfaced as the movie was being made. So, they ordered Travilla to play down Marilyn’s body. The details of this story are true Hollywood drama! 
 
As for the famous blowing white dress, you may be interested to know that copies never look quite right because the original was pleated in a special way, using one of Travilla’s special techniques.
 
Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla is a must-read for all Marilyn fans and die-hard fashionistas.
 
But clothes were not the only weapon in Marilyn’s image arsenal. According to legendary makeup and hair style guru, the late George Masters, Marilyn had amazing body control. Masters credited her with the ability to shine for the camera and seduce it. In his book, The Masters Way to Beauty, he gave directions on how to develop similar “star-like” body control.
 
“You start by pretending that you're naked with forty imaginary cameras shooting you from every possible angle — up, down, front, back, sideways– on your cheekbones, chinbone, nose, neckline, shoulder line, hipline, bosoms, stomach, thighs, arms, and legs, all over, anywhere and everywhere ,” he wrote. “It's a trick you can practice anywhere, even out in public.”
 
So much has been said about Marilyn’s difficulties with men, drugs, and tardiness, that it is easy to forget the discipline that went into “Marilyn’s mystique.” She was not athletic, but she exercised to keep her curves in check. She ran when she was a young starlet and later used free weights. It is no secret that her weight fluctuated and she had to diet, but at the time of her death, Marilyn was positively svelte. She had dieted for her last film, Something Has to Give. During the shoot, she slipped into a swimming pool nude for a scene. In recently-released photos of these moments, she looks stunning.
 
Marilyn took ice baths. She also plunged her face into ice to tighten it, and she spent hours with her skin slathered in various anti-aging creams. She favoured lotions and potions from Hungarian skin guru Erno Laszlo, hormone crème, and products by Anna of Denmark.
 
Marilyn sought out the best makeup men and hair stylists, but she was a beauty expert herself who knew what she wanted. She loved glamour and reveled in her femininity in spite of the insecurities that plagued her. Marilyn worked at being Marilyn, and the results were mesmerizing.
 
If you want to develop your own mystique here are a few notes from MM’s script:
 
Be original
There is only one Marilyn. Too often women are held back by worrying about their friends’s opinions. Develop your own sense of style and be confident. If you need a second opinion, ask an older mentor or professional. Look for someone who is not competing with you on any level or trying to sell you anything.
 
“I used to think as I looked at the Hollywood night, there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star,” MM once said. “But I'm not going to worry about them. I'm dreaming the hardest.”
 
Never stop believing in yourself.
 
Be disciplined
Beauty and glamour require work. So work out, eat healthfully, and be organized. Forget nit-picking yourself to pieces; instead, make the most of your assets. Mystique takes time to cultivate. You need time to get yourself together every day. Get up early enough to leave the house looking fabulous.
 
Set aside time in the evening to renew and care for your face and body. Develop good beauty and exercise routines and stick to them. You will see results. Join a gym or get a trainer. Marilyn preferred private instruction, even when she was a struggling starlet.
 
Dress to look fabulous
Never wear anything that make you look less than great. Marilyn owned very few clothes for many years, but what she did have made her look fabulous. When she died she had closets of flattering designer clothes. She was buried in her favourite lime green Pucci dress. She had three identical copies of it.
 
Be open and inspired
Marilyn never stopped learning. She read reams. Her library included everything from great books to modern psychology. She sought out teacher and trainers to help her improve her craft. Part of Marilyn’s mystique was her open mind and marvelous sense of humor.
 
Darlings, emulating Marilyn Monroe may seem like a tall order. But if you want to cultivate mystique, learn from the best. Marilyn did.
 
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