Milly, Marilyn and Me: The Mystery of the Colette dress

By  | 

The Milly by Michelle Colette dress.

This morning Gilt Groupe had a great sale on Milly by Michelle Smith.  One of the dresses featured for sale was Milly’s lovely gorgeous Colette dress, pictured above.  This is a simple sheath dress with a gorgeous red poppy floral pattern.  I’ve admired the dress since I saw it on the runway at New York Fashion Week last year. The dress was part of Milly’s Spring 2011 collection, with prints inspired by heiress Peggy Guggenheim. I recently purchased the Colette dress, on sale of course.  I buy many things one season behind to stay fashionable and to save money.   To me, the dress is timeless, and I knew that, because I knew I had seem a very similar one in a film of Marilyn Monroe’s made over 40 years ago.  Marilyn had a very similar sheath dress that she wore as a costume in her never released 1962 film, “Something’s Got to Give.” Take a look a Marilyn in the dress pictured below to see the stunning resemblance.

Pictured: Marilyn in costume on the set of “Somethings Gotta Give.”

Being the student of fashion and vintage prints that I am, I had to ask the designer if she was aware of the dress made for Marilyn and how similar it was to her Colette dress.  Michelle seemed amazed by the resemblance, and said she hadn’t seen the pictures of Marilyn in this dress. After all, Marilyn’s last film was never released, and only still shots and a few remaining scenes have been shown in documentaries.

“Mine is an archival 1950’s print made for me by the original Italian mill, so it could be the same textile artist,” Michelle Smith told me of the print used for her Colette dress.  Just looking at the fabrics, I would think it could be the same textile artist, although Marilyn’s dress looks more like red roses, than poppies.

Pictured: A close-up shot of Marilyn Monroe in the simple dress she wore with the red flower print.

I don’t know who the costume designer was for Monroe’s last film. I know the robe she wore  and some of the costumes Marilyn wore in the film were designed by Jean Louis.  However, this dress may not have been a Jean Louis.  One thing is for sure, the style and the print are timeless.  Fifty years later, Milly’s Colette dress is just as appealing as the dress Marilyn wore in 1962. I think Marilyn would’ve loved Milly’s Colette dress. The simple styles that Marilyn wore by designers such as Pucci, Ceil Chapman, JAX and Irene Lentz remain vibrant and stylish. Milly’s Colette dress carries on her simple elegance. It’s no wonder the dress sold out on the Gilt Groupe sale today.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.

1 Comment