In an interview with Today, which aired on Tuesday, June 21, Kardashian, 41, told anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie: “I respect [Marilyn]. I understand how much this dress means to American history and with the [Met] theme being American, I thought what is more American than Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the President of the United States.”
The reality star continued, “It was such a process. I showed up to the red carpet in a robe and slippers and I put the dress on at the bottom of the carpet, went up the stairs … I probably had it on for three minutes, four minutes, and then I changed at the top of the stairs.”
When Kotb, 57, asked Kardashian to address claims the dress was “ruined,” the Skims founder shook her head and said, “No … Ripley’s [and I] worked together so well. There were handlers and gloves that put it on me.”
Kardashian also opened up about her weight loss and the backlash she received after revealing she lost 16 pounds just to fit into the look. “I looked at it like a role, and I really wanted to wear this dress. It was really important to me.”
The beauty mogul continued, expressing that the transformation taught her a lot about her lifestyle. “Since then, I’ve continued to eat really healthy. I’m down 21 pounds now. I’m not trying to lose any more weight, but I have more energy than ever. I cut out so much sugar, a lot of junk food I was eating … I just completely changed my lifestyle.
Kardashian’s interview comes after collector Scott Fornter alleged that the dress, which the late icon wore to serenade then-President John F. Kennedy in 1962, was badly damaged after being loaned to the Keeping Up With the Kardashians alum, for fashion’s biggest night on May 2. In photos Fortner claimed were taken on June 12, the dress appeared to have rips in the sleeve, sustained tears at the zipper and was missing several crystals. The fashion historian also shared images taken of the dress ahead of Kardashian’s Met Gala appearance that showed the look with no blemishes.
Fortner further addressed concerns surrounding the dress by uploading a video of the design taken before it was purchased by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in 2016 for $4.8 million. “To anyone who may be questioning the actual condition of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress prior to being purchased by @RipleysBelieveItOrNot or implying that low quality photos of the dress were shared to somehow make the newly discovered damage to the dress seem worse than it actually is, this is [a] 4L video that I took of the gown while it was on display at @Juliens_Auctions in November 2016,” he said. “Without question, the damage is significant.”
In a statement released on June 16, Ripley’s addressed the controversy, saying: “Kim Kardashian wearing the ‘Happy Birthday’ dress has been hotly contested, but the fact remains that she did not, in any way, damage the garment in the short amount of time it was worn at the Met Gala.”
Ripley’s Vice President of Publishing and Licensing, Amanda Joiner, added in the memo: “From the bottom of the Met steps, where Kim got into the dress, to the top where it was returned, the dress was in the same condition it started in.” The archival center went on to assert that Joiner was with the dress throughout the day of the Met Gala on May 2 and remained with the garment when it was transported from Orlando to New York for the big event.
Before Kardashian borrowed the number, it was housed in a dark, temperature controlled room at Ripley’s. On the day of the Met Gala, the archival center stressed that the beauty mogul was not allowed to make alterations to the look and had changed into a replica after wearing the frock on the Met steps.
“Great care was taken to preserve this piece of pop culture history,” Ripley’s wrote in a statement shared via their official Instagram account. “With input from garment conservationists, appraisers and archivists, the garment’s condition was top priority. Believe It or Not! No alterations were to be made to the dress and Kim even changed into a replica after the red carpet.”
Ripley’s released an additional statement on May 5, per the Daily Beast, saying: “We basically had many conversations with Kim and her team and put a lot of requirements in place with security and with the handling of the dress.”
Ripley’s continued: “The dress was never with Kim alone. It was always with a Ripley’s representative. We always ensured that at any time we felt that the dress was in danger or ripping or we felt uncomfortable about anything, we always had the ability to be able to say we were not going to continue with this.”
Prior to her conversation with Kotb and Guthrie, Kardashian echoed similar sentiments, sharing an understanding of the dress’ importance. “I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history. I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won’t be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do,” the Skims founder told Vogue in an interview published on May 2.
She also previously spoke about her intense weight-loss regimen. “I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein … I didn’t starve myself, but I was so strict,” she told Vogue. In a different interview with the fashion magazine, the Selfish author revealed she had to “lose 16 pounds … to be able to fit” into the design.