Blonde’s Costume Design Shows a Different Side to Marilyn Monroe

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Fittings and tailoring became especially crucial during preproduction, as most of the wardrobe was built custom from the ground up. Monroe was known for her sexy hourglass figure, after all, so most of the looks began with underpinnings. “There were little tricks that we did with the construction to make Ana feel more curvy,” says Johnson, who avoided prosthetics. (None were used in the film at all.) Johnson also wanted de Armas to be comfortable on set, in keeping with direct feedback from the actor herself: “She wanted to be comfortable so that she could really think about her character and just become Marilyn,” she says. Instead, small tricks were used, such as lightly padding the underwear and bra. “We did a soft tip rather than the real pointy tip, as it became very comical and distracting,” says Johnson of the bust. “We also had a one-inch piece of elastic around her waist—that was her corset.”

Special details that you may not even notice in the film were also important to Johnson and the costume team. One of her favorite dresses in the film, for instance, is a re-creation of a Some Like It Hot dress designed by Orry-Kelly that Monroe wears to sing with a live band. “In my research, we found that Kelly designed a see-through heart lined with rhinestones on her left ass cheek,” says Johnson. “You don’t see it in the movie, but I really tried to give Ana little presents that helped her get into character.” Even the shoes were well thought-out. Johnson worked with a cobbler at Western Costume to deconstruct and customize heels, making them feel more appropriate for the 1950s. “Manolo Blahniks were the shoes that fit well, but it was well outside our budget, so I went on The RealReal,” says Johnson. “He would rip the whole thing apart until he just had the skeleton of the shoe, then custom dye the leather and rewrap the heel.”

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

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