How do you dress like a flapper? Finger curl your hair, Deco headband by Jamie Kreitman®, vintage strands of pearls, silk pleated dress by Douuod, Scottie Terrier cuff purchased on eBay years ago.
Hard to believe that 39 years have gone by since the last epic film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.” Mia Farrow and Robert Redford starred in the leading roles of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, dazzling the audience with their beauty, poise, and elaborate costumes. It was only a matter of time before another filmmaker would remake this iconic story with an updated version reflecting contemporary culture. This go-round is spectacular in hi-def 3D. Don’t forget to take your migraine meds before heading to the local kazillion-plex to watch Gatsby’s guests dance the Jitterbug throughout the lavish sets.
The latest Great Gatsby film, directed by Baz Luhrmann, transported me to a stunning, frenzied world of flappers, extravagant wealth and over the top weekend parties. The costume design was out of this world and equal to none. Imagine Gatsby and his guests on magic mushrooms, pitchers of Red Bull and Ritalin against a hip-hop musical score. This could possibly be the most elaborate Jay-Z music video ever produced. I was completely drawn in, but yearned for an intermission since the visual stimulation was overwhelming. I thought I was going to pass out from sensory overload and nearly asked a flapper, so realistic in 3-D, for some bootleg scotch.
I have always loved fashion from the 20’s. Women savored the ritual of dressing which transformed them into ‘objets de desire’. But it was also a period of time when women were exploring their new found social and economic freedoms. With their new outlook came emancipation from restrictive societal mores, namely, corsetry and long skirts. Women lopped off their hair into a short bob, they smoked and drank in public, wore dresses with loosened silhouettes for movement, hemlines were shortened and many wore casual wide-legged slacks.
The New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn had this to say about costume designer Catherine Martin and Miuccia Prada’s collaboration : “There is much in Mr. Luhrmann’s “Gatsby” that is missing, like the sporty knitwear created by Patou and Chanel that became an emblem of the modern, unfettered woman, and much that is simply wrong, like the notion of a lady golfer in pants, or the fib of having a character remark that Daisy is pretty enough to be on the cover of Vogue — when Vogue still put illustrations on its covers.”
Come on Cathy, you are killing my Gatsby Gin Rickey buzz! I doubt Catherine Martin’s intent was to create period costumes suitable for an authoritative tome on “the Definitive Guide to Fashion of the Jazz Age.” She and Miuccia did an amazing job despite the omission of Patou’s sporty knitwear and other details.
With all the magnificent costuming and scenery so vibrantly stylized, I forgot that I was watching a tragic story. Instead, I was mesmerized by the 20’s costuming and the extravagant comportment throughout the film. It wasn’t until the movie ended, that I realized I had watched one of the most heart wrenching American novels unfold, masked by the sheen of Jay Gatsby’s yellow convertible coupe.
The class consciousness, extravagance and greed which repulsed F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1920’s America, would most likely render him apoplectic today. New York was considered decadent and in contrast, the Midwest was a place of American integrity and honesty. The protagonist and film narrator, Nick Carraway was a Midwesterner and represented those characteristics. What would Fitzgerald find in the heartland today? He would be disappointed by pervasive corporate greed, alcohol and drug addiction, joblessness and rising suicide rates. I wonder how he would translate 21st century America into prose?
There are many parallels today with the 1920’s. One salient difference is women’s role in society today. Women are running Fortune 500 companies, are fully integrated into the professions, marrying and having children much later in life. With this independence and self-reliance, women can choose to start a family without a partner or spouse.
Contemporary Americans have a shorter attention span than prior generations. They are more forgiving of those engaged in marital affairs and who have abandoned social decorum. As long as you are repentant, willing to sob uncontrollably and divulge your marital infidelity in front of millions with Oprah as your witness, the public will forgive you. Heck, if Fitzgerald were alive today he might have been amused to read about narcissistic, philandering professional golfer, Tiger Woods, sitting in a Sex Addicts Anonymous class. Imagine if his classmate was blue-blooded, self-entitled Tom Buchanan. Could you envision the two collaborating on a self-help book poised to hit the New York Times bestseller list entitled, “How to Fight Narcissism and Infidelity in Ten Easy Steps”?
What should you wear when telling off a socialite who drinks cocktails all day, lies on a couch the rest of the afternoon and then complains about the summer heat to all of her friends incessantly? Straw cloche by Louise Green, dress by Jo No Fui, vintage amber necklaces, vintage crocheted gloves, and a bunch of daisies to toss at Daisy.
Hair styled by: Peggy Marzell of BlondeHairExpert.com
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