As We Enter a New Year we look back on almost two decades of our favorite jewelry in films
As 2016 comes to a close with holiday movies hitting the theaters and award season just around the corner, BEJEWELEDMAG.COM pays tribute to films, which featured jewelry designers, renowned houses and antique dealers that have made an impact on our collective imaginations. For this article, I have chosen to go back in time only to the beginning of the 21st century in selecting the movies that range from modern day romantic comedies to period films. Bejeweled has published and will continue to publish stories on the great houses and jewels of early Hollywood and the screen sirens who owned them in real life and wore them in film.
But for this particular piece, we celebrate films from 2001 through the present, which have garnered Oscars for costume designers and others which have showcased the jewelry some of us covet and some of us even own. The jewelry in the films help to define and develop character and advance plot while other items –or singular pieces have made it from screen to street initiating new trends or bringing back past styling.
Let the first credit’s roll on a selection of award winners:
Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge 2001 earned his wife, costume and production designer Catherine Martin Academy awards in both of those categories. Although Martin researches the eras in which the films take place like that of an art and fashion historian, she deliberately steps out of the time periods. This was the case in Moulin Rouge to achieve the fantastical look, feel and pop score of the film. Although there was jewelry enhancing Nicole Kidman’ character throughout the film as the beautiful Courtesan Satine, the major piece was a fantasy bib necklace designed specifically for the movie by Stefano Canturi. It was inspired by the embellished styles of the jewels during the reign of Louis XVI—which imbued the necklace with the over-the-top opulence that was perfect for the film. It is comprised of approximately 1,300 diamonds and its weight is 134 karats.
Nominated for 11 Academy awards and recipient of three for Costume design thus far, Colleen Atwood’s first win was for Chicago in 2002. Atwood went to Hollywood legend Neil Lane and borrowed stacks of Art Deco diamond bracelets, one of which was owned previously by Mae West, which Neil had purchased for his private collection and archives Set in the same era as West’s She Done Him Wrong, the 2002, Rob Marshall adaptation of the musical Chicago stars Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger as ‘Velma Kelly’ and ‘Roxie Hart’, two murderesses who try to escape the gallows by using their stage act and celebrity. Lane revealed that these were the type of bracelets that women wore in those days when they ‘arrived’ or had ‘back door’ relationships in which the guys would lavish diamonds on them. Lane also points out “the Hollywood of today is borrowing from the Hollywood of the past. The West bracelet is reflective of both films: fun and fashionable, decadent and innocent, all at the same time.”
Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005 took home another award for Colleen Atwood for best costume design. Neil Lane was once again involved with providing hair ornaments for the film but another jewelry star, well versed in film, shared the spotlight this time with Lane. Robin Renzi designer of Me & Ro Jewelry created five hair jewels for the movie. At the time of my interview with Robin prior to the film’s release, she explained, “
“I had originally met Colleen when we did the jewelry for Julia Roberts in The Mexican. She called to ask if we wanted to work with her on the hair ornaments for Memoirs and it was both exhilarating and challenging at the same time. We had one month to create the pieces. Colleen explained what she envisioned, sent us some inexpensive combs from Japan and then let us take it from there. I decided on some floral designs that I had worked with in the past but put them together in opulent pieces that would read well on the big screen. Our most ornate pieces consisted of a bouquet of coral and pearls sterling silver and 10K and a comb of tiny seed pearls and buttercup flowers sewn onto mesh with two silver pieces on each side.” Neil’s contribution were “pretty, feminine and of the time period. Since the focal points of a geisha are her eyes, face and her arms, there had to be a synergy between stable pieces that gave the appearance of being fluid. The hair ornaments had to sparkle with the movement of the head without distracting or taking away from the face. The styles we created included a pink tourmaline and white pearl butterfly, a stylized, antiqued ribbon with diamonds and two elaborate multi row combs that were suitable for the autumn scenes in the garden in earth tones of golden brown and livelier burnt orange citrines.”
Like Baz Luhrmann’s films that take on a completely modern, pop culture feeling in music, color and fantasy version of the time periods, so did Sofia Coppola’s 2006 Marie Antoinette with academy award winning costume designer Milena Canonero having created the costumes, which landed her another award for best costume design. Although Canonero designed such films as Chariots of Fire and Barry Lyndon, Marie Antoinette was perhaps her most evocative with everything from the shoes to the lavish gowns turning into an inspiration for runway fashion. The movie reimagined a “modern-day Versailles” and told the story of Marie Antoinette from a personal perspective. Canonero’s costumes reflected the shift of Marie Antoinette’s personality as she takes on her role from high spirited teenager to controversial political figure.
While the fashions go from pretty, candy colors to more extravagant dress—the jewels also reflect more of the grandeur of the court with no other than one of my favorite antique houses- Fred Leighton providing the jewels, all which were perfectly suited to Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle and all of the pieces stay true to the period in which the film takes place.
In the 2012 film version of Tolstoy’s epic novel Anna Karenina, Chanel Joaillerie provided the opulent jewels for Keira Knightley as ‘Anna’, including a pearl sautoir and a diamond necklace with a camellia motif. As with the costumes, director Joe Wright preferred the use of anachronistic jewelry rather than perfect, historically correct pieces from the 1870s. According to costume designer Jacqueline Durran: “Working with real jewelry was a must for this film. Anna is all about luxury, and to an extent, vanity. She lives in this world of nineteenth-century Russia where there is just an extraordinary amount of wealth. It seemed to play into the setting of her world and also the kind of vanity of Anna as a character to have a wide range of jewelry, and to wear it extensively.” The pieces Durran chose from Chanel Joaillerie were less modern and had a more baroque or a more feminine look to blend into the period and fit with Anna’s style.
The collaboration between director Baz Luhrmann and wife, costume designer Catherine Martin and Tiffany & Co. for the film The Great Gatsby (2013) gave a new lease on life to authentic and Art Deco-inspired jewelry. The movie won Martin her next academy award after Moulin Rouge. Styles of the Jazz Age returned to the runways and the streets and new looks based on the past were the inspiration for hand jewelry, which, along with the headband, became quintessential parts of the party costume worn by Carey Mulligan’s character, ‘Daisy Buchanan’. It also created a stir in the fine jewelry market for both delicate and bold bracelets that cover the hand.
They continue to flourish in both daintier and bolder versions and are being designed for various sensibilities. Decades after the original film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, (jewelry originally lent by Cartier), Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation sent Tiffany & Co. back to its archives, with costume designer Catherine Martin researching the glamour and sleek lines of the roaring twenties. The fit was perfect: F. Scott Fitzgerald had been a client of Tiffany, and Martin found personal correspondence from him in the company’s archives. In addition, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the brand’s first design director, mixed in the same Long Island circles that are described in the book. Martin believes that having such genuinely exquisite jewelry pieces in the film added “to the characters’ visual development because these pieces reflect their status in society, their wealth and their ability to buy beautiful things”. Martin continues: “I think that certainly in the 1920s and even today, fine jewelry is a way of publicly announcing your success and wealth and this is something that Tom Buchanan does with his wife.” In Fitzgerald’s novel, “the day before the wedding [Tom] gave Daisy a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars” as a way to seal the deal.
There are also jewels that shone brightly in films since 2000— from Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Me& Ro as well as Harry Winston and Verdura, which was acquired by Ward Landrigan in 1984, The Verdura jewels offered a similar role in the unfolding of the characters and the story as it did when Fulco di Verdura created pieces for films of his day.
Murder, affairs of the heart and a subplot that relies on the upstairs-downstairs theme define the 2001 film Gosford Park. This was an earlier take on authentic Art Deco and designer jewelry prior to The Great Gatsby in 2013. The jewelry helped the audience understand who’s who in the hierarchy, while individual pieces play their part in developing character. Costume designer Jenny Beavan worked with each of the six ladies of the upstairs part of the house (portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Camilla Rutherford, Natasha Wightman, Geraldine Somerville and Claudie Blakley), and jewelry was individualized depending on the character’s status and situation. ‘Lady Sylvia McCordle’ (Scott Thomas) is a bold character requiring statement-type pieces: one of her necklaces is from Chanel Joaillerie, created in 1932. Although the film takes place in the early 1930s, many older Edwardian pieces used in addition to Art Deco gems—all of which were supplied by the 200-year-old London jewelry house, Tessier, who specialize in antique and estate jewelry. The jewelry had to be escorted on to set by armed guards each day.
Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the 1960’s Rat Pack classic , Ocean’s Eleven slips in another beautiful internationally recognizable name into the star-studded cast-Tiffany & Co. The renowned jewelers lent pieces from their Lace Collection, inspired by the jewels of the company’s archives of the Edwardian and Belle Epoque eras to Julia Robert for the 2001 Warner Bros. blockbuster. Among the eleven male leading men, Roberts is the only female in the film and wear Tiffany jewels exclusively. Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland designed the ultra elegant wardrobe for her character of Tess in the film and dresses her in an array of dazzling baubles which include a bracelet of platinum and diamonds and necklace of platinum, diamonds and aquamarine briolettes, sunburst diamond motif earrings and a Tahitian pearl necklace with diamond clasp and matching earrings. On her finger she wears a flawless 5.5-carat yellow diamond with two triangular diamond baguettes.
Speaking of prestigious jewelers, the house of Harry Winston is no stranger to Hollywood. In 1944, Harry Winston became the first company to lend diamonds to an actress for the Academy Awards, dressing the evening’s Best Actress winner, Jennifer Jones. In 1953 the film Gentleman Prefer Blondes featured the song ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ with Marilyn Monroe’s famous breathy line, ‘Talk to me Harry Winston! Tell me all about it!’—a clear indication of Winston’s worldwide recognition as the ‘King of Diamonds’. The Harry Winston 84-carat canary yellow diamond set with different cuts of white diamonds is a necklace that Kate Hudson wears as ‘Andie Anderson’ in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003). Dubbed the ‘Isadora Duncan’, Hudson’s character wears the necklace to dazzling effect with a beautiful yellow, bias-cut satin gown. After the film hit theaters, a 51.94-carat yellow sapphire replica was created and displayed alongside the gown in the 2013 ‘Hollywood Costume’ exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Among the jewelry house’s role in earlier films: Ingrid Bergman as ‘Alicia Huber’ in Notorious (1946), which features a Harry Winston diamond wreath-like sparkler of a necklace of pear and round-cut stones. In The Graduate (1967) Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson chicly dons Harry Winston jewelry as the sultry, married seductress and friend of twenty-year-old Benjamin Braddock’s (Dustin Hoffman) parents. In addition throughout more recent years, Winston also provided the jewels and backdrops for a few of Woody Allen’s classics.
The lives of composer Cole Porter and his wife Linda are the subject of the 2004 musical portrait De-Lovely. Directed by Academy Award-winner Irwin Winkler, the film explores Porter’s elegant and excessive lifestyle, and through his artistic journey reveals his complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Linda, and friendship with the prolific jewelry designer Fulco di Verdura. The film spans four decades of Cole Porter’s life, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and was shot in four different countries. ‘We wanted to get the jewelry and the costumes as accurate as possible,’ explained Janty Yates, costume designer for the film. At Verdura, Yates worked with Ward Landrigan. Landrigan and Yates chose the pieces that Ashley Judd would wear as ‘Linda’ in the film—pieces that represented the time periods as well as the signatures of Verdura, such as the multi-strand aquamarine necklace with tassels at the end, or the pearls with the interlocking moons that represented the ‘Goddess of Love’. As ‘Linda’, Judd also wore a pair of diamond love-knot bracelets throughout the film. These were Fulco di Verdura’s tongue-in-cheek take on the rope sailors tied around the wrist of their girlfriends when they were leaving shore, as forget- me-‘knots’.
Verdura’s friendship with the Porters helped land him a job as the jewelry designer for Chanel. ‘It was at a party in Venice in 1925. The Coles rented a palazzo and everyone that was anyone was there from Josephine Baker to Chanel,’ explains Yates. In the film, Judd wears Maltese crosses, originally designed by Verdura for Chanel. She also wears a Chanel double- comet necklace for her wedding day. The Verdura embellished cigarette cases, given by Linda to Cole on the opening nights of each of his musicals, take on even wider significance in the movie. They are symbolic of the Porters’ relationship, from the passionate early days of their marriage through to the controversies of their twilight years together.
The Devil Wears Prada brought Me & Ro back into the limelight again –although her jewelry was featured in myriad films during the 20th century and throughout the 21st century and bejeweled Julia Roberts in numerous films. Renzi lent pieces for Anne Hathaway as ‘Andie’ in the film adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada (2006), the Lauren Weisberger novel based on her days working at Vogue under Anna Wintour. In the film, fashion magazine editor ‘Miranda Priestly’ (Meryl Streep) has no patience with unfashionable ‘Andie’, until she begins slowly to take her under her wing. ‘Andie’ wears Me & Ro pendants, one of which is the Geisha flower medallion style, and finally meets the exacting style standards of ‘Miranda’, but she loses herself in the process… until ultimately she gains confidence in who she really is.
Moving into present day, 2016 saw costume designer Suzy Benzinger work with the house of Chanel to bring back the glamour of the 20s and 30s in Woody Allen’s Café Society. Coco Chanel changed the look of fashion and imparted her wisdom on mixing faux and real jewelry during the time period in which the film takes place before creating her first diamond collection. Benzinger researched the Chanel archives to create the costumes of gowns, furs and diamond and pearl jewelry for a nightclub scene in the film for both Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively.
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around and as we head into Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2016, quite a few films are being released with one or more jewels which helps to define character and/or plot or to set the backdrop of the time period in which the film takes place. Such is the case in Neil Lane’s archival emerald and diamond antique navette style ring in Rules Don’t Apply (see full story here).
Costume designer Madeline Fontaine worked with Piaget on the striking jewelry in Jackie with Natalie Portman in the title role Fontaine took a few modern liberties with the fashion and gems that recorded Jacqueline Kennedy’s look but each scene still captures the feeling of the first Lady and the iconic style she created, which was emulated world-wide.
As we enter in the New Year, I hope you have enjoyed our look back to the screen gems of almost two decades. I can’t wait to share with you the scene-stealers of 2017—and the costume designers and jewelry houses that seamlessly work the pieces into the story line yet allow them to shine on in our collective memories.
I will see you at the red carpet events and awards ceremonies to cheer on our favorite costume designers whose jewelry choices lights up darkened movie theaters and sparks our obsession with the glitter and glamour that is the gem of he silver screen.
all photos courtesy of Rex/Shuttershock unless otherwise noted.
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