Kim Kardashian already famously borrowed Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 1962 dress for the 2022 Met Gala. At the 2023 CFDA Fashion Awards tonight, the postmodern celebrity went a step further and co-opted “The Marilyn Effect”—a psychological term for the ability to blend seamlessly into a crowd, as Monroe herself used to do when she got tired of being famous.
It happened as the Skims empress stepped off the red carpet after modeling her leather Chrome Hearts dress and made her way through the Museum of Natural History. Despite being more famous than most presidents, Kardashian melted into a blur of kilted Thom Browne publicists, museum administrators, and black-cloaked fashion editors. A newly-nominated designer and his downtown entourage even said “sorry, excuse me” and rushed right past her as if she were just another girl looking for champagne—which, for the moment, she was.
Mimeo Marilyns continued with Winnie Harlow, whose platinum bob and Marc Jacobs gown radiated—in her words—“ultimate glamour.” Tommy Dorfman’s Bach Mai sheet dress and stained red lip, along with her beach blonde hair, echoed Douglas Kirkland’s famous “In Bed With Marilyn Monroe” photos from 1961. (The lip was Charlotte Tilbury by Tamzin Cummings. The sex appeal? “All me!” Dorfman proudly declared.) Lori Harvey’s satin brown bodice by Saint Sintra was a vintage Playboy flex, and Amelia Gray’s diaphanous blue Alaïa shift was so sheer, it recalled Bert Stern’s famous nude snaps of Monroe herself. Photos of Gray on Getty Images now come with a content warning for “partial nudity,” a real stretch since fellow model Alton Mason wore no shirt at all. (Proposal for his photos to be labeled “warning: extremely attractive man.”)
But Monroe wasn’t the only style influence spotted at the CFDAs. Gwyneth Paltrow’s G. Label black turtleneck (almost sold out) and matching velvet skirt (still available!) channeled both Steve Jobs and Sharon Stone at the Oscars. The architect of that look, Vera Wang, swept through the room moments after the Goop girl took off. (“Do you know people still ask what I’m wearing?” asked Wang. “I mean, I’m always wearing me!”) Emma Chamberlain and Alina Cho sported ’60s hair bows reminiscent of Bye Bye Birdie, and awards host Anne Hathaway took a page from Britney Spears’ iconic Y2K denim gown and elevated it in a blue jean corset and ball skirt from Ralph Lauren.
And while moms were the ultimate style icons of the evening—sustainability award winner Mara Hoffman brought her very cool tween son Joaquin, while Wang’s two daughters Cecilia and Josephine walked the red carpet, too—there was a twist thanks to Colm Dillane, the KidSuper creative director who twinned with his mom.
“You know nepotism?” she said. “This is the opposite. My son is my style icon.”
Faran Krentcil is a fashion journalist and critic based in New York City. She is the founding editor of Fashionista and a graduate of Duke University. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and more.