Glamour was one thing, but Travilla went way out on a limb with this proposed costume for Monroe’s big solo number, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” It is built on a fishnet body stocking, and smothered in rhinestones and crystals of every size and shape. Some have been clustered in bands around her hips and others drape her shoulders and breasts. Still others hang from her neckline and crotch. Her long black gloves are adorned with still more glass, as in her neck. Black ostrich feathers serve as redundant accessories. “It’s like a black silk stocking all over,” Marilyn told a reporter, “and just as clingy and has jewels dangling from it in all the right places.”
Exposing plenty of skin, especially below the waist, this costume would have been right at home on a Follies Bergere showgirl. Which is exactly what Travilla had in mind as the “Diamonds” number was to take place in a Parisian nightclub. It’s difficult to imagine, however, how Monroe would have gracefully maneuvered the song’s dance steps in this creation without looking awkward or worse, vulgar—or both.
Fox executives took one look at this costume and howled in protest. Marilyn had recently survived the scandal of her 1949 nude photos appearing on a widely distributed calendar. They were in no mood to fan the flames: Put her in something “absolutely sexless” they demanded.