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5.01.2013

The Great Gatsby Costume Collaboration

"I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
                                 -F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Great Gatsby, one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, will open next week after it's release date was pushed back five months. Movie enthusiasts and fashionistas alike wait patiently to watch director Baz Luhrmann's film come to life as it depicts F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic. Catherine Martin is not only the director's wife, but also the mastermind behind the motion picture's well thought out costumes that take the audience back in time. A vital part to the film's success is based on designer Martin's ability to capture the lively and free-spirited era of the Roaring Twenties among Long Island's elite through fashion. 

When Luhrmann discussed his vision with his wife he said, "I don’t want a nostalgic New York, I don’t want a sepia-toned New York, I want a New York that feels as vibrant and sexy and visceral and modern as it would have to Zelda and Fitzgerald, or any of the characters in the book." So Martin began her research by reading the book and assessing what the characters were wearing. She then travelled to the Met library and FIT and followed up with online research.
Miuccia Prada, a friend of Luhrmann, teamed up with Martin to help with costumes for the party scenes. The famed designer already had experience working with Luhrmann and Martin when she created a dinner suit for Leonardo DiCaprio to wear in Romeo and Juliet. She ended up designing 40 costumes based on past Prada and Miu Miu dresses that she adapted for The Great Gatsby. "I usually try not to literally reference periods in my work, because that's not the way I think," Prada said. "But when I worked on the costumes, I realized how many pieces could become very 1920s with a little intervention and another point of view." 20 of the dresses were for the "glamorous party" and 20 for the "sad and tawdry party". Prada also designed Daisy Buchanan's dress and fur (worn by Carey Mulligan) for her first Gatsby party in the film. Martin made a clever decision when partnering with Prada to convey the nostalgic fashion of the Jazz Age to a modern audience. 

As for F. Scott Fitzgerald's personal fashion sense, his primary clothing source was Brooks Brothers, a men's outfitter that has been fashioning menswear since the 1800s. "Brooks Brothers is mentioned numerous times in Fitzgerald's writings as a representation of the ultimate gentleman's purveyor of fine clothing," said Martin. So it was appropriate that the company was a large part in outfitting the men on set. Apparently, Brooks Brothers provided more than 500 looks for the stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and a large amount of extras. Martin was given access to the company's clothing archives for inspiration. The New York-based brand is now selling The Great Gatsby Collection, which includes twenties-themed leather wingtips, bow ties, linen vests, dapper suits, and genuine onyx and gold-plated cuff links. 

Tiffany & Co. also partnered with The Great Gatsby and provided headpieces, bracelets, rings, and long strands of pearls that were influenced by the flapper-filled decade. Jon King, executive vice president for Tiffany & Co., told WWD, “Tiffany was certainly part of this era. The brand was at the center of the parties of the rich and famous.” Following in Brooks Brothers' footsteps, the fine jeweler is also marketing a new collection based on the film. One of its most exquisite items for sale is the savoy headpiece, which is adorned with freshwater cultured pearls and round brilliant diamonds for the shocking price of $200,000.

Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Marchesa all rolled out twenties-inspired designs in their spring/summer 2012 collections, possibly with Downton Abbey moving into the 1920s and The Great Gatsby in mind. Since the film postponed its release date to this month, will the resurgence of twenties fashion hold strong? Martin replied when asked why the decade is making such a comeback, "The 1920s was an influential era because you basically saw every single style of neckline, dress shape and dress length reinterpreted. It’s also an interesting era because it was both modern and nostalgic at the same time. On the one hand it was extremely modern—dresses were shorter, there was a freedom of movement, and sportiness—but at the same time there was nostalgia for the embellishment, beading, and lace of the 18th century."

I bought a beautiful black and white lace and combined it with a black satin-like fabric for my modern day flapper dress design. It is more fitted than an authentic 1920s frock, but does have the comfort and drop-waist that footloose and fancy free flappers longed for. I sewed the black down the sides and middle of the top portion for added contrast. It's perfect for a Gatsby-style affair.

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