Fans flock to Winnipeg grocery store to see Marilyn Monroe’s dress

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A sheer, skin-coloured diamond-encrusted marquisette dress shined behind a glass encasing Friday at Save-On-Foods, Northgate. The dress, now on a headless pale-white mannequin, once flaunted the curves of Marilyn Monroe. She wore it when she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in 1962, one of her final public performances before her death.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/07/2017 (1900 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A sheer, skin-coloured diamond-encrusted marquisette dress shined behind a glass encasing Friday at Save-On-Foods, Northgate. The dress, now on a headless pale-white mannequin, once flaunted the curves of Marilyn Monroe. She wore it when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962, one of her final public performances before her death.

Fans and admirers flocked to the store to see the dress and snap pictures, but for superfan Leslie Kasperowicz, the experience and her connection to Monroe goes deeper than a picture would reveal.

“She’s someone I think of when I think I can’t handle things,” said Kasperowicz, who sees commonalities between herself and Monroe. Both have suffered from insomnia and infertility. Kasperowicz admires how Monroe rose above the hand dealt to her.

Leslie Kasperowicz (from left), Elaine Horrocks and security guard Lisa Ironstand look at Marilyn Monroe’s diamond-encrusted, rhinestone-emblazoned evening gown on display Friday at the Save-On-Foods Northgate location. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press)

“I see her as someone who overcame a lot and achieved things that were almost impossible for someone that came from her background,” said Kasperowicz.

Monroe moved through a series of foster homes as a child, and Kasperowicz believes that since Monroe still accomplished her goals, so can she.

Kasperowicz’s obsession began when she was eight and received a hand-me-down T-shirt with Monroe’s face on the front. It was her favourite shirt, and when she read her first book about Monroe a few years later, she was hooked and has spent the past 25 years studying Monroe’s life and dispelling conspiracy theories about her death.

Kasperowicz, originally from Winnipeg, now lives in Minnesota. She just happened to be visiting relatives in Lac du Bonnet when she heard the dress would be here.

“This was like the grand finale surprise to my vacation,” she said.

Kasperowicz thinks of Monroe as a feminist and activist, something people often overlook, she said.

Elaine Horrocks, a fellow fan and former seamstress, loved seeing the dress up close.

Marilyn Monroe wore the dress when she serenaded U.S. president John F. Kennedy in 1962 during his 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press)

“It’s just such a fabulous dress… I don’t know how it could get any better. It was just perfect for her,” she said.

More than 10,000 people have been to see the dress over its first four stops in Saskatchewan. Winnipeg will be the dress’s last public showing before it returns to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. The dress will visit Save-On-Foods’ Bridgewater location Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the St. James location Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The owner of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Jim Pattison, also owns Save-On-Foods, making it possible for the stores to display the dress. Pattison bought the dress for $6.09 million in an auction last year.

“We thought bringing a birthday party dress to an inaugural birthday party for a grocery store would be kind of fun,” said Save-On-Foods spokeswoman Julie Dickson.

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