Ana de Armas's "Blonde" Costumes Are Nearly Identical to Marilyn Monroe's Looks

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After the first stills of Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe were revealed from the set of Netflix's "Blonde," it became clear that wardrobe would be a crucial element in bringing the story to life. Award-winning costume designer Jennifer Johnson ("I, Tonya") re-created Monroe's iconic outfits with the help of patternmaker Jose Bello at Western Costume.

"It's easy enough to copy something verbatim; it's another thing to bring something so iconic that is imbued in the world's psyche back from the dead."

The intention was to make de Armas feel as much like Monroe — whose real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson — as possible. "Getting the construction details just right was important, but so was being flexible with certain details and fabric choices to work for Ana," Johnson tells POPSUGAR. "It's easy enough to copy something verbatim; it's another thing to bring something so iconic that is imbued in the world's psyche back from the dead. These pieces need to feel alive and relevant to today's eye."

In terms of her style point of view, Monroe was a minimalist. Even for red carpet events, she borrowed from whatever costume designer she was working with at the time. But she made an exception for diamonds, as all of Monroe's jewelry was real. Rather than build from scratch, which would've required too much time, Johnson's team sourced jewels from House of Fisher in West Hollywood. Its costume jewelry antiques that once belonged to Catherine Deneuve made for a close match.

"I feel really proud of what we created, not having access to the actual thing. Filmmaking is fantasy, and these re-creations are a love letter to everyone who made Norma Jeane Marilyn Monroe," Johnson says.

Ahead, get a full breakdown of the looks that Johnson translated to the screen, and compare Monroe's original clothing to de Armas's costumes.

Marilyn Monroe's Subway-Grate Dress in "Seven Year Itch"
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Marilyn Monroe's Subway-Grate Dress in "Seven Year Itch"

Johnson worked with head patternmaker Jose Bello at Hollywood's Western Costume on the re-creation of this iconic look, which, she admits, took a lot of work due to the time-consuming pleating.

"It felt like we went through 40-something yards of fabric adjusting the amount of panels to get the fullness just right," she says, explaining that the skirt required an incredible amount of yardage to achieve the dramatic arc when the wind from the subway grate blows up. "The re-creations you are accustomed to seeing stalking down Hollywood Boulevard or at any given Halloween party have all really underestimated how big that skirt really is!" Two pairs of custom underwear were made for de Armas for this scene, based upon the pair Monroe wore in real life.

Marilyn Monroe's Pink "Niagara" Dress
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Marilyn Monroe's Pink "Niagara" Dress

Originally created by costume designer Dorothy Jeakins for the 1953 thriller, this dress was sourced from Western Costume. "It is such a sexy and contemporary-feeling dress," Johnson says. "It's a very sassy number, and [de Armas] had to sing a song with a quivering lip in the manner of Marilyn. She immediately propped herself on the flood supine and started singing when she put it on. She had no wig or makeup at this point but had already given herself over to Marilyn."

Marilyn Monroe's Pink "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" Dress
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Marilyn Monroe's Pink "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" Dress

Johnson credits the book "Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla" for her re-creation of the "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" look Monroe wears while singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." While reading, she discovered that Travilla lined the entire dress in green pool-table felt to give it the specific body and weight that would help Monroe achieve the right movement while gliding down the stairs.

"There was a moment, due to the heat of the wig Ana wore, that we thought about not using such heavy lining," Johnson said. "But upon fitting the dress and watching her move down the stairs, it was a must. We did not use green pool-table felt, but it was tempting. Instead, it was a heavy cotton backing that helped de Armas simulate the dress's every move."

Marilyn Monroe's Blue Polka-Dot Summer Dress
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Marilyn Monroe's Blue Polka-Dot Summer Dress

Johnson's team made faithful copies of the whimsical dresses Monroe wore during her time with Arthur Miller, including this polka-dot sundress and her simple sheath wedding dress.

Marilyn Monroe's "Something's Got to Give" Rose Dress
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Marilyn Monroe's "Something's Got to Give" Rose Dress

Toward the end of shooting "Blonde," Johnson and her team re-created the open-back rose dress Monroe wears in 1962's "Something's Got to Give." The design was originally constructed by Jean Louis, and Johnson's assistant worked with the art department and a fabric printer to achieve a similar layout of roses. "It took a lot of trial and error to get the placement just right before the fabric was cut — a bit nerve-racking to say the least," Johnson said.

Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like It Hot" Lingerie
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Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like It Hot" Lingerie

Johnson shared a picture of de Armas getting into the boudoir costume that was made to conjure images of the 1959 romantic comedy — a lace embroidered slip covered with a black fur-trimmed sheer robe.

Marilyn Monroe's Miss America Parade Dress in Atlantic City
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Marilyn Monroe's Miss America Parade Dress in Atlantic City

We see de Armas in a re-creation of the black and white collared halter dress Monroe wore to lead the Miss America pageant parade in 1952 down the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. The original look featured a plunging neckline and a belt at the waist and was pinned with Monroe's grand marshal badge.

Marilyn Monroe's July 4 Swimsuit
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Marilyn Monroe's July 4 Swimsuit

This still of de Armas as Monroe is one of the first we saw following the production announcement of "Blonde." It's a re-creation of a moment from Independence Day in 1953, when Monroe was being fitted into a strapless swimsuit by a wardrobe assistant for a day of July 4 activities.

Marilyn Monroe's Vintage White Mink Stole
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Marilyn Monroe's Vintage White Mink Stole

Johnson's team only had the time and budget to create one of each design, so the on-set costumer had to follow de Armas around set and look after her. This was particularly challenging when it came to the vintage white mink stole. "That was no match for [director] Andrew Dominik, the California heat, and copious amounts of lipstick and spilled on-set Champagne," Johnson said.

Marilyn Monroe's Couture Gowns
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Marilyn Monroe's Couture Gowns

The cone bra shape on Monroe's most iconic couture gowns was taken into consideration. However, Johnson wanted de Armas to feel natural while still respecting the spirit of the original design. "I chose to not have her custom-made bra padded so overtly pointed, as this silhouette viewed in today's lens becomes a distraction from the story," she says. "This film is not about Marilyn's historical accuracy per se as much as it is about Marilyn's inner mind's landscape."

Marilyn Monroe's Capri Pants
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Marilyn Monroe's Capri Pants

Johnson sourced an extensive catalogue from auction house Christie's, which documents Monroe's estate in book form and includes detailed information about the everyday clothing she wore, her capris being one such basic. The black and white check pants de Armas wears in the film, originally from Palace Costume, became the prototype pattern for the others you see throughout the movie.