Bettina’s Take: Dior Hosts ‘Picturing Marilyn’

picturing marilyn dior dress

My Week With Marilyn, the enthralling new movie starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, is based on a true story, from the recollections of then 23-year-old assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) during one specific week that the star was in London filming The Prince and the Showgirl, opposite Sir Laurence Olivier.

Michelle Williams's extraordinary portrayal of Marilyn has Best Actress written all over it.

What better way to see the film than in conjunction with the opening of an exhibit, "Picturing Marilyn," focused entirely on never-before-seen photographs of the iconic star?

A veritable who's who of the fashion, photography and entertainment worlds were present, including Harvey Weinstein, Celeste Holm, director Simon Curtis, Coco Rocha, Olivier Theyskens, Bruce Weber and Jessica Stam.

"Marilyn is such an icon," said Georgina Chapman, wearing a black leather Dior cocktail dress. "She represents everything feminine about a woman. She's vulnerable, she's beautiful, and she also had a sense of humor. I think that's why she appeals to so many people."

"This exhibit is kind of a dream," said Dree Hemingway, wearing the long, black backless dress that Monroe had worn in the photograph, recreated by Dior especially for the occasion. "I grew up watching Marilyn Monroe movies—my mother would only let me watch old movies—and it gives me butterflies in my stomach. I'm really honored to be here."

"You never get tired of looking at her. I want to be her. Even though she had such a tragic end, I still want to be her," said self-confessed shopping addict Nanette Lepore as we admired the swirl of Dior designs around us.

marilyn monroe photograph

Andrea Riseborough, in a short white silk Dior (of course), was looking forward to seeing the movie and comparing the real blonde bombshell to the onscreen portrayal.

Riseborough plays Wallis Simpson in the upcoming W.E, directed by Madonna. I asked her what it was like to work with the Material Girl. "Every director brings the whole of themselves at what they do, and Madonna was extraordinary," she answered.

There was a flurry of cameras flashing; and in walked the charismatic and charming Dominic Cooper, who plays photographer Milton Greene in My Week With Marilyn. I asked him about the film.

"The biggest challenge was recreating something that actually happened, keeping that very much embedded in reality, and making sure that those two wonderfully different worlds that you see, from Hollywood glamour to the rather stuffy post-war environment in London, remained real, and with humor, while also keeping a rather tragic story not too heavy and dark," said Cooper.

"Watching Michelle and Ken—we know who [Monroe and Olivier] were, we have preconceived ideas of what we think them to be, of how they were. It's so daring of them, so brave and I just loved every minute of watching what they did, and how they did it."

What's next for Cooper? In addition to playing Henry Sturges in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, he's working on Motor City, "about Detroit in the '70's, very interesting, with minimal dialogue."

But Dominic, we love to hear you speak!

"Picturing Marilyn," curated by the Staley-Wise gallery and produced in collaboration with Dior and The Weinstein Company, will be on view at Milk Studios in NYC through November 13.

My Week With Marilyn opens November 23.

Photos: Dree Hemingway standing by a photo of Marilyn wearing the same black Dior gown; a photograph of Marilyn from the exhibit