“Marilyn Monroe only exists on the screen.” The chilling final words spoken in the trailer for Blonde couldn’t be more poignant. From the acclaimed director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and episodes of Netflix’s Mindhunter, Andrew Dominik’s Blonde is making its world premiere at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
Based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde is Netflix’s first NC-17 film. No stranger to the big screen or tabloids herself, Ana de Armas plays Marilyn. The film traces a throughline from the beginning of her volatile childhood as Norma Jeane Baker and up her rise to mega-stardom as Marilyn Monroe. Looking past the ratings controversy and release delays, all eyes are on the scintillating diamonds in the film. Recreating such iconic diamond moments was no easy task for the film’s costume designer Jennifer Johnson, who tells Only Natural Diamonds that it required extensive research to find pieces that fit the bill in person while also looking just as convincing on screen.
Get The Look: Natural Diamond Jewellery Inspiration from the Netflix Movie Blonde
What Can We Expect To See Jewellery-Wise In The Upcoming Film?
Arguably the most famous blonde of all-time, Monroe, onscreen, the personification of glitz and glamour, a far cry from her troubled personal life. As such, there was incredible pressure on the costume design team to ‘get it right’ and do Marilyn justice in this adaptation. According to Johnson, it was the scene where they recreated Marilyn’s iconic “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” number (originally in the movie musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) that was the hardest to recreate. “We didn’t have the budget to build the pieces from scratch. I needed to convincingly recreate the illusion of an exact match,” notes Johnson. “The quality of the costume pieces we were finding just wasn’t right.” With every morsel of detail as important as the next, the high definition cameras left nothing to the imagination. It was at this moment that Johnson and her team turned to the Swiss luxury watches, accessories, and fine jewellery house, Chopard, for some serious bling. “Chopard was incredibly helpful and lovely to work with!” According to Johnson, due to the nature of the set, the team couldn’t get approval for an armed guard each time Marilyn Monroe wore real diamonds. Alas, Johnson and her incredible team went back on the great hunt for costume pieces they could incorporate to assist in piecing the looks together, one stone at a time.
“My brilliant assistant Alyson Wegner found David at House of Fisher in West Hollywood. David has this incredible collection of vintage designer costume jewellery,” says Johnson. “He dug deep into his collection – choosing pieces that had once belonged to Catherine Deneuve! He helped piece together a very close match and was very generous while working with our small budget and insane time frame!!!”
How Did You Begin Your Creative Process of Choosing Jewellery for The Film?
According to Johnson, her goal from the start is to always focus on the details. “I kept in mind that not only were we recreating a lot of Marilyn’s actual looks, but that I also needed to make sure the pieces I chose worked on Ana and that she felt comfortable and completely transformed when she stepped into Marilyn. The jewellery had to feel at one with her.”
What Tips Can You Give A Jewellery Lover Looking To Recreate Their Own “Marilyn” Jewellery Look?
“Well, if you have the budget, start with Chopard!” If you’d like to go the vintage route or simply want to scour vintage pieces for inspiration, Johnson recommends diving into the thousands of listings on Etsy. “In the settings, broaden your search to include “internationally” as there are a lot of gems (mostly costume) to be found!” Johnson suggests looking at The Real Real for options for a plethora of real fine and designer costume jewellery. If you’re looking for a treasure trove of designer vintage costume pieces, she proposes you run to check out the House of Fisher in West Hollywood on your next trip to L.A.
Approximately How Many Pieces Of Jewellery Were Worn In The Film?
“In my mind’s eye it felt like a dazzling amount! The most spectacular amount is when Marilyn Monroe sings Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend! Too many to count!!”
Mark your calendar for the premiere of Blonde starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe on September 28th, only on Netflix.