Monsters and Marilyns

CS Lewis once said “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been”. This was the primary thought behind the series Monsters and Marilyns. Throughout history Fascists, Communists, Marxists, and Socialists have murdered and oppressed those who were under their rule, yet popular culture and propaganda have tried to make these monsters into heros and icons. Twisting peoples memories and brainwashing them into an Orwellian nightmare.

Andy Warhol’s silkscreen painting of Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic painting of the Pop Art Movement. Not many people know that the painting was meant to show the mask of popularity that a celebrity wears. On the outside there were different shades of happiness, but under all the paint and smiles there was something darker: depression, drug use, and suicide. I took this idea and reinterpreted it to speak truth into our popular culture. The hair and make-up from the Marilyn Monroe painting is placed on politicians, dictators, public officials, as well as old horror movie monsters that are liars, murderers, and tyrants. By doing this the statement is made that no matter how much popular culture or the mass media tries to dress up and beautify these people, they are still monsters. Saddam Hussein, Barack Obama, Frankenstein, Dracula, Stalin, Lenin, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Bill Clinton, Pin Head, Leather Face, Barney Frank, Mao Zedong, the Bride of Frankenstein, Hitler, Hannibal Lecter, Jack (the character from Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining),  and Jesse Jackson are only some of the people that I have Marilynized.

My goal is to force people to look past the media hype and celebrity masks of these people and see them for who they really are. Much like in George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984, people are too willing to give up their freedom and liberty to be taken care of and protected by the Government. They will believe anything that they are told to believe even if they know its a lie because they do not want to know the truth. As a society, we want to be lied to, we want to think that everything is normal even when it is crashing down around us. We want to believe in people even though they give us empty promises and lies every time they open their mouths. We need to wake up and realize that lying to ourselves does not change reality. We must recognize and accept truth. The truth will set you free, but it will not make you sleep easy at night.

Therefore, by linking monsters to the mask-wearing Marilyn Monroe that Andy Warhol portrayed, I demonstrate that things are not what they seem. They are a mask, a lie, a perversion of the truth to allow people to lie to themselves in order to feel secure.”

Jesse Lenz

 
 

Series by Jesse Lenz, 2009

Portraits of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn, Andy Warhol, 1962

 
 

Portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Roy Lichtenstein, date unknown

 
 

Marilyn Monroe, James Rosenquist, 1962

 
 

Marilyn Monroe (Décollage), Mimmo Rotella 1962

 
 

Marilyn Monroe (Décollage),Wolf Vostell, 1962

 
 

My Marilyn, Richard Hamilton, 1965

 
 

Test Stone #1, Robert Rauschenberg, 1967

 
 

Marilyn was here, Richard Lindner, 1970

 
 

Peek-a-boo Marilyn, Mel Ramos, 2002

If Everything is Simply Jake

When you don’t have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it’s sex. When you have both, it’s health. If everything is simply jake, then you’re frightened of death.

Marilyn Monroe

 
 

Movie still from The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, 1955)

 
 

_in100Marilyn Monroe Paperbag Death, Sebastian Kruger, 2006

A Key Motif in Dior’s Fashions

Monsieur Christian Dior and his gardener, date unknown

 
 

The story began in 1906 in the hills above Granville in Normandy within the gardens on the property where the Dior family had recently settled. Around the villa, Christian Dior‘s mother built a lush garden from the ground up combining rare species of plants. It was young Christian who created and designed the rose garden. Throughout his life, the rose remained his favourite flower. It was key motif in his fashions (featured in prints, embroidery, brocades, etc.) and an essential note in his fragrances. Furthermore, the very name of his childhood home – les Rhumbs – is also a subtle reference to the rose: it defines the cardinal divisions of space, which in French is called ‘la rose des vents’, or windrose. Therefore, the rose, which was so vital to the life and work of the designer, has also become essential to Dior Jewellery collections such as Rose Dior Bagatelle.

Ever since, each designer at Masion Dior (Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano and Raf Simons) had followed the tradition of including roses in the collections for this iconic French brand, whether in prints, accesories or even on a showstopping stage.

 
 

Rose de France afternoon dress in taffeta with colored rose print, Spring-Summer 1956 Haute Couture collection, Ligne Flèche (Arrow Line)

 
 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Roses Mousseuses influenced the rose print

 
 

Carmen Dell’Orefice wearing Dior by Yves Saint Laurent. Photo: Richard Avedon, 1957

 
 

Madrileña Dress of floating pale gray faille, Dior by Marc Bohan. Alexandre of Paris coiffure. Photo by Richard Avedon for Harper’s Bazaar, December 1960

All The World Is a Stage

Take a Bow is a midtempo pop ballad with a “Sukiyaki”-like Japanese touch, performed by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was released as the Bedtime Stories‘ second single on October 28, 1994. The song also appears on her compilation albums Something to Remember (1995), GHV2 (2001) and Celebration (2009).

Following the release Madonna’s first book publication, Sex, the erotic thriller, Body of Evidence, and the album, Erotica, in the early 1990s, the media and public’s backlash against Madonna’s overtly sexual image was at a peak. Released in early March, 1994, her first musical release after Erotica was the tender ballad I’ll Remember from the soundtrack of the film With Honors. When Madonna appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on March 31, 1994 to promote the single, her coarse language and behavior—which was provocative, seemingly random at times, full of double entendres (at one point asking Letterman to sniff her panties), profanities, and ended with a refusal to leave the set—caused yet another large public controversy. Following this, Madonna decided to tone down her image and move her career into a new direction. Musically, she explored new-jack R&B styles with a generally mainstream, radio-friendly sound. This new R&B sound was reflected in Bedtime Stories. For Take a Bow, Madonna wanted a more “romantic vein” so she worked with Babyface on the track because he had proved himself to be very successful in his previous works with smooth R&B, working with other artists such as Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, and Toni Braxton.

The chorus expresses the theme of saying goodbye to a lover who had taken her for granted. The title plays upon the verse in the song “all the world is a stage and everyone has their part,” a reference to the line by William Shakespeare in his play As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women mere players”. In his book Madonna: An Intimate Biography, J. Randy Taraborrelli describes the song as a “somber, sarcastic, all-the-world’s-a-stage song about unrequited love… [about a subject] whose phoniness might have fooled everyone else, but not her.” He goes on to say that in the song Madonna tells the subject of her unrequited love to take a bow for “rendering a great, transparent performance in life and love.”

The music video for Take a Bow was directed by Michael Haussman, and is a lavish period-style piece filmed from November 3–8, 1994 in Ronda and in the bullring of Antequera, Spain. It was outfitted by famed stylist Lori Goldstein who received the VH1 Fashion and Media award for best styling. The plot, set in the 1940s, depicts Madonna as a neglected lover of a bullfighter, played by real-life Spanish bullfighter Emilio Muñoz. Madonna’s character yearns for the bullfighter’s presence, with erotic heartbreak. A total of three different bulls were used during the production of the music video. It generated controversy with animal rights activists who accused the singer of glorifying bullfighting.

 
 

 
 

In the video Madonna wears fitted, classic suits by British fashion designer John Galliano. In an interview with MTV’s Kurt Loder on the set of the music video, Madonna said that when she was initially writing Take a Bow the inspiration for the song was an actor, but she wanted the male character in the video to be to be a matador instead because she wanted the video to be about an “obsessive, tragic love story that doesn’t work out in the end” and a matador would be more visually effective in expressing the emotion of the song. The style of the music video has been compared to Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar‘s 1986 film Matador, starring Antonio Banderas.  The music video for Madonna’s 1995 single You’ll See is considered a follow up to the Take a Bow music video, as Madonna and Emilio Muñoz reprise their roles. In that video Madonna’s character walks out on Munoz’s (bullfighter) character, leaving him behind in despair. Madonna’s character is then seen on the train and later on a plane, while Munoz’s character tries to catch up with her in vain.

Madonna requested that Haussman give the video a Spanish theme because, at the time, she was lobbying for the role of Eva Perón in the film version of Evita. She subsequently sent a copy of the video to director Alan Parker as a way of “auditioning” for the role. Madonna eventually won the role of Perón.

The music video for Take a Bow inspired Justin Timberlake‘s video for SexyBack (Michael Haussman, 2006) and was later tributed by Britney Spears‘ video for “Radar” (Dave Meyers, 2009). Madonna won Best Female Video honors at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards for the Take a Bow music video. It was also nominated for Best Art Direction in a Video, but lost to Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson‘s Scream.

To watch Take a Bow music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hlt

Covered Up in Pink

“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.”

William Travilla

 
 

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend number, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)

 
 

This wasn’t the dress designed for this scene. William Travilla had designed a breathtaking show girl costume with jewels sewn onto a black fish-net body stocking up to the breasts, then covered in nude fabric, embellished with a mass of diamonds, costing close to $4,000. It never got past the cutting room floor. It was rejected because it came out that Marilyn has posed nude for a calendar back in 1949 (the infamous Golden Dreams photographed by Tom Kelley), when Marilyn was desperate for money. And instead of riding on the revelation, Travilla was given strict instructions to cover Marilyn up.

 
 

 
 

It was rejected because it came out that Marilyn has posed nude for a calendar back in 1949 (the infamous Golden Dreams photographed by Tom Kelley), when Marilyn was desperate for money. And instead of riding on the revelation, Travilla was given strict instructions to cover Marilyn up.

 
 

 
 

The original concept for the new dress included black gloves and shoes, and no one is sure why they became pink, but Travilla redid his sketch to show pink gloves. When people see the actual dress they often remark that in real life is lighter than it appears in the movie. That is easily explained by the use of glorious Technicolor according to Travilla himself, not only did he have to design the dress, but he had to make sure he got the fabric right, as Technicolor would make it appear more vibrant on film.

This dress was made out of peau d’ange, a sort of silk satin. The aim was to show the outline of the body, but for the dress to move with the body and not crease – which was rather difficult when Marilyn was moving up and down the stairs. Eventually the silk satin was glued onto felt, with a black lining added to the back, to give it a stiffness.

 
 

Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of the song Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend and her pink dress are considered iconic, and the performance has inspired homages by Madonna (Material Girl music video) , Geri Halliwell, Kylie Minogue,  Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, and James Franco (Oscar 2011).

The Pumpkin Sensation

 
 

Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe enter the ship ball room for dinner and everyone gasps. That’s not just in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953). This orange dress became a prototype for a personal dress Marilyn had made, in salmon pink. Both were made of chiffon, with boning over the hip and the waist, that finished under the arm. The pumpkin dress had beading down the center and on the bust line, with a wonderful pumpkin beaded stole. The zip was in the front.

The Best Breasts in Hollywood

 
 

When William Travilla was designing the costumes for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953) he had a real battle with the censors. The scene is which Marilyn Monroe wears this dress was nearly cut by the censors. She was due to wear this incredibly plunging gold gown, while dancing provocatively with Sir Francis ‘Piggy’ Beekman (Charles Coburn) singing a song entitled Down Boy! Apparently it wasn’t deemed appropriate! Having been cut, we only see this halter-neck gown from the back.*

 
 

 
 

However, the front is even more daring. The dress was created out of a single complete circle of gold lame and sunburst pleated. Every pleat lines up with the back seam and there is an iron V build in the center of the dress from the waist to the bust – creating the molding effect. Travilla once said that Marilyn had “the best breasts in Hollywood”, not because of their size or pertness, but because they were wide-set, so he could design dresses that slashed to the waist, without having to pull the breasts apart, or showing too much cleavage. Obviously a designer first, man second!

This dress shows exactly that point. Marilyn had to be sewn into it. In fact it wasn’t even finished.

 
 

 
 

Canny as ever, Marilyn rather fancied this dress, and realizing the effect, wanted to wear it to the 1953 Photoplay Awards. Travilla was not happy. He felt that the dress was for a movie not for a public appearance. Marilyn won the day, and wore the dress without an under-slip, causing a total sensation and Joan Crawford to announce “She looks vulgar”!

 
 

* To watch the mentioned scene, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

A Woman in July

 
 

The Stripper (1963) is a drama film about a struggling, aging actress turned stripper and the people she knows, played by Joanne Woodward. It is based on the play A Loss of Roses by William Inge.

This was the feature film debut of director Franklin J. Schaffner, and co-starred Carol Lynley, Robert Webber, and Richard Beymer. Also appearing as Madame Olga was real-life stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. It was the first Schaffner film to feature a score by prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith, who would later work with Schaffner on such films as Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, and The Boys from Brazil.

The film was first designed to be a vehicle for two Fox contract stars, Marilyn Monroe and Pat Boone. Monroe had been considered for the part as early as 1961 co-starring opposite Pat Boone who turned the part down as his strong religious beliefs nor did he feel his fans would be comfortable with him in such a role. Monroe’s death had nothing to do with Woodward being cast in the film. In fact, the April 28, 1962 Los Angeles Times listed The Stripper as one of four films in production at the studio, including Monroe’s Something’s Got to Give. In fact, Woodward would perform the song Something’s Got to Give in the film.

For her role in The Stripper also known under the working title The Woman in July, William Travilla dressed Woodward in silk and other sheer fabrics that reveal her body movement. But as Joanne’s breast were small, they created “breast cards” that glued to her body and gave the illusion of a fuller figure. “I called in the studio sculptor to make some plaster casts of Joanne’s body. From these, they made another form and created several sets of clay breasts until I gave my approval…..nothing too much, just beautiful breasts that scoop up and move.” From that, thin foam pads were created and glued daily to the actress’ body. “It was a tribute to Joanne as an actress that she went through all this for the role.” Travilla was nominated for his last Academy Award for Costume Design in a black and white film, losing to Piero Gherardi for 8 1/2.

 
 

Woodward poses with Gypsy Rose Lee wearing one of Travilla’s creeations