The Style of THE GREAT GATSBY



GREAT GATSBY WEEK: DAY TWO

F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece is a classic on many levels. While the forbearance of the American Dream is evident in every sense of the phrase, the most endearing, and perhaps saddest, part of the book is its captivatingly perfect portrayal of the Roaring 20s.

When Baz Luhrmann set out to adapt the novel for the big screen, each aspect of his film was to be purposefully chosen. In classic Luhrmann style this meant some outlandish artistic liberties mixed in with period-appropriate details. As in Moulin Rouge when the perfectly suited lady dancers mix and mingle with the top hat wearing gentlemen of the 1800s while singing Nirvana and Madonna, the Jay-Z produced soundtrack of The Great Gatsby perfectly parlays against the beautiful and enigmatic wardrobe and set design. To make this work, Luhrmann gathered a very respectable group of artists from the fashion world. While style reigned supreme amongst the young people of the mid-twenties, not a single thread of a costume for the film was without inspiration.

In the British VOGUE, costume designer Catherine Martin revealed some of her inner workings with fashion designer Miuccia Prada on bringing to life these lavish characters from one of the most-read novels of modern times. Martin and Prada worked closely with Brooks Brothers to design and produced authentic and stylish 1920s garb. A lot of the time period's style came from the social revolution that took place following the Great War. She told the magazine, "Saying that women were at the forefront of that revolution, I don't know that it's entirely accurate, but they were certainly making strides. It was a time of incredible change where we basically go from a 19th-Century world to a modern, mechanized world reliant on machines in the space of five years."

In that same issue, Prada released four sketches of her work with Martin for the film. One of the important features Luhrmann always tries to produce is an authentic reality that still connects to today's audience in a relevant way. This can be heard through the music and seen in the way Prada and Martin are able to completely stylize the cast, including Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire, with costumes that look both authentic to the period and stylishly modern.

Mulligan is the showiest model of Prada's collection, along with over 40 different looks throughout the film. Brooks Brothers handled DiCaprio's and Maguire's suits, along with 1,700 pieces total for the film.

One of the ways film's aristocratic/carefree style will immolate to todays' audience is that the style can be attained. Unfortunately for us, we don't walk around in suits or feathered headbands. If we did, then the Great Gatsby Collection making its way to stores might not be as pricey. In true Gatsby fashion, however, it makes perfect sense that the best style should cost a pretty penny.

A striped suit jacket from Brooks Brothers' limited-edition collaboration will run you upwards of $700. Accessories are necessary, so feel free to pick up a tie, hat, or walking cane for some extra dough.

For the ladies, Prada is exhibiting the styles, including Daisy's party chandelier dress, at the Soho store in New York.

Tiffany & Co., who sponsored the film's New York premiere, has released its own Great Gatsby Collection of accessories, including a headband like the one Daisy wears. The Savoy Headpiece features freshwater cultured pearls, and 25.04 carats of round diamonds. With a price tag of $200,000, the headpiece is just one of many lavish pieces the film has inspired.

Martin sums up the design process perfectly. "Baz was describing to me about the modern music in this version of Gatsby and he said, 'We've got to get the audience to feel how it must have felt to hear jazz for the first time at a party.' You need to feel how scintillating, extraordinary, new and dynamic these things were; there needs to be a frisson of the new for people to actually understand what it was really like to be there in the Twenties."

The Great Gatsby opens in U.S. theaters this Friday, May 10.

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