“[Marilyn Monroe] was truly a pioneer of all that is beauty and glamour, it would be very difficult for a star of today to achieve a legacy on these grounds and ‘replace’ Marilyn,” states Bradford Licensing’s Stephanie Drenka confidently.
Indeed, Monroe is one of a select group of classic Hollywood icons – such as Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and Greta Garbo – who still fascinate and enthral the public as much today as they did back in their cinematic heyday.
The popularity of Monroe in particular shows no sign of abating. In January, a number of photographs sold in record amounts at Christie’s auction house and the licensing programme – handled by Bradford Licensing – is going from strength to strength.
The programme consists of two different kinds of licensees: commemorative and fashion lifestyle-focused products. The commemorative side features items found in catalogues and specialty retailers, among others, with the category focus revolving around collectibles, home décor and gifts and novelties. Meanwhile, the fashion lifestyle programme pursues female-oriented products that use Monroe as a marketing tool and/or inspiration. More design orientated, some of the current lifestyle licensees have developed eyewear, fashion and jewellery items, with the category focus revolving around apparel, accessories and cosmetics.
The licensing drive has proved a success across the globe, too. Marilyn Monroe will soon be making her debut on the South American fashion scene, with Bradford’s Brazilian partner agent, Supermarcas, securing deals with two fashion names: Daslu will be creating embellished women’s t-shirts featuring Sam Shaw photographs, while department store C&A Modas will produce a line of Marilyn adult and teenage clothing, accessories, shoes and women’s lingerie. Republic.Vix by Chenson has also signed on to create backpacks, bags, wallets and vanity cases.
In Italy, meanwhile, Professional Licensing Group has brokered numerous high-end deals for the Shaw Family Archives. Clan S.r.l is set to design Marilyn beach and swimwear, as well as accessories for both men and women; Italian Fashion be will creating bags, wallets and gloves with Marilyn images; Codital Scarl will have ballerina slippers and beach sandals; while Maglificio Mariella has created an entire fashion line which will include jackets, jeans, knitwear, sweatshirts and t-shirts.
Moving into the UK and Ireland, Allsorts Licensing has brought a number of partners to the table. Baylis & Harding is launching a range of toiletry-based gifts; J&K Henderson has watches; Poplar Linens has new lines of bedlinen, beach towels and fleeces; Silverknit has nightwear and outerwear; and Smiffy’s has dress-up costumes.
Retailer H&M will also be launching tank tops featuring one of Sam Shaw’s images of Monroe, with the help of local Swedish agent Alicom. In addition, DYC has signed up through agent RMP for printed t-shirts.
“Her legacy as an icon of beauty and fashion is the secret of Marilyn’s enduring appeal,” continues Drenka. “The fact that she is one of the only women in history able to produce such captivatingly beautiful photography doesn’t hurt either. Also, she provides inspiration to many starlets of today including Paris Hilton, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan, who tend to be very public about their admiration.
“Over the years the awe of Marilyn Monroe has been passed down by many women of influence which only adds to her legacy. She was so much more than the famous images of her or the limited roles of her films. There are no other stars today whose appeal to both sexes can compare to Marilyn Monroe’s.”