“I like to be well dressed or completely undressed. I don’t worry about the middle ground,” Marilyn Monroe once said. The most famous blonde in the cinema didn’t experience anything in half, nor did she mix or confuse her split personality: Norma Jeane, birth name of the American actress raised by her mother, Gladys Baker, patient with mental disorders, and desperate to be loved; and Marilyn Monroe, the Hollywood star who would become the greatest sex symbol of all time. Both very different personalities for the artist, almost like two independent people. So much so that she constantly referred to herself in the third person: “Monroe wouldn’t do it like that.” And during her life — brief, only 36 years old, ending in 1962 — one of the characteristics that most highlighted the difference between the tormented Norma and the famous Marilyn was fashion, a fundamental element in the construction of the seductive image of the star, of which she had full science and knew how to manipulate like no one else.
From platinum hair to dresses, sometimes dramatic and sensual, sometimes softer evoking a demure woman, there is no other figure in the history of world pop culture whose way of dressing is as tied to a person as she is. The power of clothing, hair, jewelry and makeup in myth building is now clear in the film. blonde, from Netflix, which brings actress Ana de Armas in the lead role. Filmmaker Andrew Dominik’s feature has one of its strengths in impeccable costumes, merit of costume designer Jennifer Johnson. She knew how to identify, relate and differentiate the two parts of the actress’ psyche and, in a surgical way, outline them through clothes and accessories. Johnson studied the styles of Norma Jeane and Marilyn through a catalog of photos of the blonde dubbed “Bible”, with more than 800 pages gathered by the director of the film over ten years. At the end, the work presents the character through about 100 models. “The costume was crucial in separating Marilyn’s two personalities,” says costume designer Gogoia Sampaio.
In the work of recreating the models for the biography, special care was taken with the sewing techniques and fabrics that would give the movement of legendary models such as the white pleated of the insinuating scene of the wind in Sin lives next door and the hot pink model from Men Prefer Blondes, both creations by designer William Travilla. Colors, by the way, were also taken into account to separate Marilyn from Norma Jeane who, in her private life, adopted a minimalist style with sober and soft tones in capri pants, turtleneck sweaters and white and baby blue dresses. Jeane, after all, was not obsessed with clothes. However, she was aware of the message her star look conveyed through movies and magazines, and she used it not only to advance her career, but to gain press coverage.blonde the blonde’s talent is evident and shows that, in fact, fashion created Marilyn Monroe. Without her transforming power, the myth would not exist, dressed or naked.
Published in VEJA of October 19, 2022, issue nº 2811