Diamonds may have been Marilyn Monroe’s best friend, but pearls were the pretty companion of Tony Curtis in their iconic film “Some Like It Hot” – a movie masterpiece that I’m sure many will revisit now that the last living member of the film’s trio has passed away.
For the uninitiated: “Some Like It Hot,” is a1959 film in which Curtis and Jack Lemmon played small-time jazz musicians who witnessed the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago and, pursued by gangsters, posed as women to escape with an all-female jazz band bound for Miami (Marilyn Monroe, included).
Oscar-winning costume designer, Orry Kelly, turned Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis into ‘Josephine’ and ‘Daphne’ using all the well-known fashion secrets drag queens the world over still use today: lots of neck scarves, long gloves, fun hats – and yes – that ubiquitous symbol of understated femininity: pearls.
Pearl jewelry is generally thought of as the go-to gem when women want that ‘conservative yet classic’ look. Politicians and first wives love pearls for their sartorial safety, and they’re always a Mother’s Day crowd pleaser.
But Tony Curtis and his partner in crime brought the category to a, shall we say, ‘new’ audience – making everything from pearl-drop earrings to long strands work in ways the jewelry world never thought possible.
In other words: Clothes may make the man – but classic pearls create the cross-dresser.
Tony Curtis, R.I.P. Here’s to you. Who’s like you? Damn few.