With bright blue hair, piercings, tattoos and unusual clothing the norm for some art-school students, it can be difficult to stand out. But Kaylie Minzola '19 often gets second looks in the hallways at Moore – she looks and dresses like Marilyn Monroe.
“In my sophomore year of high school I started dressing vintage and pin-up and I did the blond hair and I realized I looked a little bit like her,” she said.
The junior Illustration major from Boyertown, Pa., chose to come to Moore because of its strong Illustration program. She received a scholarship to attend Moore based on her portfolio.
Vintage also inspires Minzola's artwork. She's interested in storytelling illustration, and her work is influenced by pulp art and illustrations from the 1910s to the 1950s.
"Some of my favorite illustrators are Elvgren, Whitcomb, Leyendecker, Gibson and Loomis," she said
She loves doing portraiture of Marilyn Monroe, and she plans to do illustrations portraying scenes from some of her movies.
One day recently, Minzola wore a black turtleneck and black-and-white herringbone cigarette pants, channeling the Hollywood icon in a more casual way, which is how she likes to think of her.
“A lot of people like her because she’s pretty and she’s glamorous, but she’s really a sensitive, anxious kind of person, and she had a lot of trouble in her life,” Minzola said. “I feel like she came from nothing and made a name for herself.”
Minzola took a break from Marilyn before beginning her college career. She had long, blond hair when she came to Moore and was getting out of a ‘medieval elf phase’ when she realized she missed her vintage look.
“It was good to have an image that people recognize, especially as an artist,” she said. “I call myself Marilyn Minzola on social media. I think it’s a fun way to stand out.”
Minzola has Marilyn’s dewy fair skin and curves, but she’s only 5 feet 2 inches tall – a little shorter than Marilyn’s 5 feet 5 inches. She’s done some modeling as Marilyn, mostly for photographers in her hometown. She often gets stopped on the street so fans can take selfies with her.
“People ask me if I want to be an impersonator, and I like doing it with modeling, but I don’t think I have the nerve to act like her,” she said. “I just like the fact that it reminds people of her because she’s so near and dear to my heart, and I just want to keep her memory alive.”
Minzola certainly has Marilyn’s moves down, such as lowering her eyelids and tilting her head back to show off full, red lips to the camera. She has studied the actor’s gestures in her films, as well as makeup techniques by Marilyn’s longtime makeup artist Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, who did Marilyn’s makeup from her first screen test in 1946 to her funeral in 1962.
Keeping the look isn’t easy. Minzola bleaches her naturally light brown hair every other month, and sets her wet hair in pin curls at night.
“I sleep in a little bonnet, so then my hair will be curly for at least three days if I’m nice to it,” she said. Her makeup routine takes about 40 minutes each morning, much less time than the three hours it took to get the real Marilyn made up for films.
One thing Minzola has that Marilyn didn’t – tattoos, including a brand-new one on her left thigh of her idol, copied from a 1954 photo.
“I wanted a picture of her that was less glamour and more naturally her,” she said. “I wanted it to look like her as a person, not really a symbol.”
Marilyn’s fashions are a big part of Minzola’s wardrobe. She owns a replica of the famous white halter dress that blew up around Marilyn in the movie The Seven Year Itch, and an exact copy of the fuchsia dress from Niagara. Most of her finds are from flea markets and thrift stores.
The vintage theme continues in her residence hall room, with posters and wall art.
“These little pinups I have are from a real magazine from the late 50s that a teenager would post around their room, so that was a cool find,” she said. She also collects ‘lady head’ figurines and vintage knickknacks, and has a 1920s picnic set in a small beige suitcase.
Minzola isn’t sure how long her love affair with Marilyn will continue.
“I’ll try to look like her as long as I’m able, I hope,” she said. “Maybe when I turn 30 I’ll do dirty blond hair instead. Maybe I’ll do Lauren Bacall or something.”