Billie Eilish’s viral British Vogue cover story paid homage to retro Hollywood sirens, and now she’s chosen to channel perhaps the most revered pin-up of all at the 2021 Met Gala: Marilyn Monroe. Eilish – a co-chair of the gala along with fellow Gen-Z superstars Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka and Amanda Gorman – floated onto the red carpet in a frothy blush gown by Oscar de la Renta, inspired by the tulle dress Monroe wore to attend the Oscars in 1951. The theme of this year’s ball is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, so Eilish turned to one of the biggest names in US fashion to craft her ode to a woman as ingrained in American culture as stars and stripes.
“Billie had planned to go to the Met Gala for the first time before the pandemic happened,” shares British Vogue’s style director Dena Giannini, who styled the Happier than Ever star for the event. “She had always dreamed of wearing a proper ballgown – particularly something corseted, thanks to her love of Barbies growing up – but she thought that it might be in an acid-green colourway or something along those lines. After her British Vogue cover, though, her style began to evolve. After reviewing about a million images together, she and I decided that it had to be Oscar de la Renta for the Met Gala. I called [creative directors] Laura [Kim] and Fernando [Garcia], and within 10 minutes, we’d agreed to collaborate together.”
Several months and toile fittings later, Eilish had her finished red-carpet look: a sustainable, ombre gown that’s feather-light despite being dramatically voluminous. While Monroe remains a silver-screen legend almost 60 years after her death, she only attended the Academy Awards once, presenting the statuette for Best Sound Recording to All About Eve’s Thomas T Moulton. For the occasion, the quintessential all-American girl borrowed an off-the-shoulder black gown by fabled costumer Charles LeMaire from the wardrobe department at 20th Century Fox. “Billie and I both love the great costume designers that have really shaped America’s fashion history, and the neckline and décolletage on Marilyn’s gown definitely inspired us.” Completing the look? No less than 30 pieces of Cartier jewellery, including 25 rings – the most ever worn by a starlet on the red carpet.
After making her way past the cameras, however, Eilish changed into a more streamlined – but no less magical – dress, swapping a train for a cape and Monroe for another Hollywood legend: Grace Kelly. “Just like LeMaire, designer Edith Head had such a meticulous approach to her beautiful work, and that’s especially clear in the pieces she created for Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief,” Giannini adds. Garcia and Kim were tasked with reimagining the strapless white gown Kelly wore in the 1955 thriller, but in a head-turning shade of deepest red. Just as breathtaking? Eilish’s vintage ’30s Cartier bracelets, which once belonged to gold rush heiress Evelyn Walsh McLean, the one-time owner of the Hope diamond.
Original article appeared on VOGUE UK | Author Kerry McDermott