Celebrating Oscar’s Costume Design Recipients and the Jewels They Chose for The Silver Screen
This article is the 5th and final in our pre-coverage of the Oscars. Tune in for our jewelry picks and stories after the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday Feb 26, 2017
Jewelry at the Oscars evokes red carpet arrivals—mega watt stars in magnificent bling or the other way around. But there is also the on screen jewelry that was part of the vivid costumes that transported us to the time in which certain films took place. Here we salute just a few of the major talents who won Best Costume Designer and the jewelry they chose to help develop the characters in various films. Many of the pieces chosen for the films are by the same renowned jewelers who appear on the red carpet.
Movies defined different eras, from the un-imitable Edith Head, whose wins in the 50’s and 60’s included The Heiress All About Eve, Roman Holiday and Sabrina. But for the purposes of getting us to Oscar night on time (read: can only go so far back in time in one story) in this article we discuss the remakes of great films books and plays and period dramas of the later 20th into 21s centuries.
Theoni V. Aldredge received the costume design award for her 1974 film version of the classic novel, The Great Gatsby. Aldredge stayed true to the lavish world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book. The lead characters, Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow) and Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) live a life of high society’s flamboyant excess. The jewels for the film were created by Cartier. The house’s designer Alfred Durante created many of the pieces for Mia Farrow’s wardrobe, including long ropes of pearls, sautoir necklaces, a diamond rivière, and long drop earrings. There were also Cartier brooches and clips and sautoirs worn by Lois Chiles as ‘Jordan Baker’, as well as jewels designed for the film’s extras. Perhaps the most important jewel in this film version is Daisy’s engagement ring: a marquise- shaped diamond set in platinum with small diamond melee on each side of the shank. The ring created a real buzz at the time, with customers walking into Cartier boutiques requesting the ‘Daisy Ring’.
Decades after the original film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation sent Tiffany & Co. back to its archives, with costume designer Catherine Martin researching the glamour and sleek lines of Jazz Age jewelry. Martin received the Oscar for Best Costume Designer for the 2013 film and 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.
Prior to The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge 2001 earned his wife, costume and production designer Catherine Martin her first 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 Costume Design awards 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, the 2002 film adaptation of Chicago, directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall 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. Neil Lane provided Atwood with much of the authentic Art Deco jewelry used in the film, including the Mae West wide diamond bracelet. It is worn in the final number by Zeta Jones and which Lane refers to as completely apropos—“the Hollywood of today 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 worked with Colleen before. 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.” Robin continues, “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.”
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 re-imagined 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 jewelry reflects more of the grandeur of the court with no other than one of my favorite antique houses- Fred Leighton providing the pieces, all which were perfectly suited to Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle and all of the styles stay true to the period in which the film takes place.
In the 2013 film remake of Tolstoy’s epic novel Anna Karenina, for which Jacqueline Durran received the Best Costume Designer award, 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.
Two films out of sequence but worth noting for Oscars for Costume Design and the jewelry that not only was a big hit on the big screen went from reel to real and the other from screen seen to street scene.
The popularity of the film and the necklace designed for Titanic inspired notable reproductions of the blue diamond heart worn by Kate Winslet in her role as ‘Rose’ in the 1997 remake of Titanic. Deborah Lynn Scott took home the Best Costume Design award for the film.
In the movie a blue diamond necklace dubbed the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ is given by steel tycoon ‘Caledon Hockley’ (Leonardo DiCaprio) to his fiancée ‘Rose’ (Kate Winslet)) as an engagement gift. Asprey & Garrard created the necklace for the purposes of the film, crafted from CZ and set in white gold. But then, in a twist on jewelry’s history, the faux jewel inspired a real one. Asprey & Garrard made a version composed of a single 170- carat sapphire and sixty-five diamonds—totaling 30 carats. This piece was loaned to Celine Dion to wear for her performance of ‘My Heart Will Go On’, the film’s Oscar- nominated theme song at the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony.
Harry Winston, the house, which owned the Hope Diamond, and many other famous gems, designed its own take on the ‘Heart of the Ocean’—Le Cœur de la Mer—using a 15-carat, authentic blue diamond. This was also worn at the 1998 Academy Awards by Gloria Stuart, the actress nominated for playing the elder version of ‘Rose.
The Age of Innocence gloriously captured Edith Warton’s world of the ins and outs, secrets, nuances and behind-the-scenes affairs of New York’s most upper crust society. Gabriella Pescucci ‘s costumes brought this all to life and garnered the Best Costume Design award for he 1993 film. Interestingly, although the films’ jewels all appeared to be real—Czech bohemian Garnet jewels on Michele Pfeiffer and the perfect diamond and pearl pieces on the youthful Winona Ryder—chandelier earrings and lavish necklaces for the opera—they were borrowed or constructed by the famous costume jewelry house in Rome, handmade L.A.B.A., founded by Nino Lembo. In 2009 it was taken over by Carlo Poggioli, Serafino Pellegrino and Simona Falanga and renamed Jewel House S.r.l.
Which Costume Designer do you predict for the 89th Academy Awards?
-Madeline Fontaine for Jackie
-Mary Zophres for La La Land
-Consolata Boyle for Florence Foster Jenkins
-Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
-Joanna Johnston for Allied
For the Jewelry choices I am rooting for Madeline Fontaine and the Piaget pieces for Jackie