Friday, June 28, 2013

Fashion In Film: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan
Costume Design: Catherine Martin

Let's say, you hear that Baz Luhrmann is beginning a new movie project, what do you expect? Well, I expected, pomp, circumstance, excess, flash, music, sound, and fury. Was I disappointed? With those elements? No. However, fashion writers and movie critics reviewing the movie have been up and down depending on what they expected. Of course, he didn't make it any easier on himself by choosing such a beloved, revered, and extremely American novel. However, it seems some people got it in their heads to expect realism and historical accuracy from this movie...from Baz Luhrmann? I guess they'd been drinking some of Jay Gatsby's bootleg hooch.

Anyone who's seen Strictly BallroomRomeo + Juliet,  or Moulin Rouge would surely know what to expect. Baz (yeah, we're close like that) makes movies that are as realistic as those of Busby Berkeley (look him up) He and his wife, Catherine Martin, (co-heads of BazMark Films), are larger than life and their movies are the same. Immense sound stages, hundreds of extras, CGI effects, amazing music soundtracks with diverse artists, incredible set designs, and sumptuous costumes, and more make up their films.

They did do extensive research; Deirdre Clemente of the blog Fitzgerald And Fashion served as one historical consultant. However, the final word on what ended up on film was always up to Baz and Catherine. But enough about all that, let's look at those costumes! Just imagine, a team of 84 people worked on thousands of costumes, 800 of them custom-made, and not including the 40 dresses supplied by Miuccia Prada from her Prada and Miu Miu collections.

Yes, the men's pants were way too tight, practically pegged.


As Catherine says in an interview at the Stylelist, "One of the other rules Baz made at the very beginning of the project was that, because the book is set in the summer of '22, published in '25, and foreshadows the crash of '29, we were actually allowed to use the whole decade as a reference base. So that gave us a little bit more scope. But what you realize even by the early '20s, just about any silhouette–from a bias cut, to a strapless, to a robe de style, had all been invented."

So basically we were going to see more than the ubiquitous fringed shift dresses, ropes of pearls, and cigarette holders. The whole of the period, World War I to pre-Depression would show up on the two female lead characters, Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker.

That philosophy is represented on screen in the fact that Jordan's and Daisy's clothes sometimes looked at odds with one another. Catherine's clothing designs had thirties elements employed for Jordan along with the more fitted silhouettes of the early 1900s for Daisy. When she was asked to contribute some forty costumes to the film, designer Miuccia Prada was surprised. Prada herself admitted to WWD of her collections that 'almost none were meant to be the Twenties when I did them', but Luhrmann and Martin persuaded her that it didn't matter. Good on you, team Bazmark! The clothes are amazing and most people wouldn't notice a thing!

My favorites were the costumes designed for "professional lady golfer" Jordan Baker. I covet her clothes. These seemed more modern in style perhaps because the expected lifestyle of this glamorous athlete would have required sporty clothes that were still feminine, sleek, and elegant. I wish there were more images of her wardrobe available.

I was lucky to come upon a Vogue article on the premiere that featured Catherine's costumes sketches for the characters. I love the antique patina on each and am very impressed with how true the final creations are to these depictions.

The only Prada-designed outfit worn by Carey Mulligan.
From an interview of Catherine at Entertainment Weekly,' “[Daisy's] party dress, when she goes to Gatsby’s party, was a redo of a Prada dress, a crystal dress, that she had done previously,” Martin said of the chandelier frock, made of crystal drops connected by a net of small metal rings — which was inspired by look 33 from Prada’s Spring/Summer 2010 runway collection.'

I love how Miuccia remade this crystal overdress with the addition of a satin ribbon closure and paired it with a champagne colored slip. The best part is that it was topped with a bi-color fur capelet edged with dangling crystal drops. In the film (not necessarily in the photo above) even though the lower section is white in some shots it took on a pale mint color while the face-framing top section looked lavender.

The delicate floating peach and cream lace dress was worn during a scene where it was revealed that Daisy was already aware of her husband's infidelity. She looked so fragile and small in this dress. Isn't the lace exquisite?
Tea at Nick's cottage

This lavender, icy blue and lace outfit is color-coordinated from head to hem. Full of colorful detail, from the simple blue barrette to the fussy fringe on the shoulders, the bluish-gray lace overdress with violet slip underneath and matching delicately buttoned gauntlets. I love how the fabric details on the skirt resemble hanging rows of delicate bluebell flowers.

Though this dress is exquisite, I do not remember it from the movie. Perhaps, it is the one shown in Daisy's debut scene with her lounging on a couch purring, "How gorgeous." This is again a costume that reminds me of a delicate creature, a swan, perhaps with its layered petal/feathers and sheer illusion netting anchoring the strapless structure. Note that the fitted, natural-waisted dress is more 1912 than a waist-less, loose 1922 flapper ensemble.

While Daisy is the image of fragility and indecisiveness, Daisy's rival for her husband's affection is brassy, confident, and stylistically her complete opposite. Myrtle Wilson, "the lady in red", is from the other side of the tracks. Living with her mechanic husband above their garage business she dresses to be noticed. In her world the costumes are bold, sometimes garish in color, and more exposed than Daisy's modest and innocent pale designs. Myrtle's skirts employ slits to expose flesh and her striped red (garter-less) stockings are employed to bring even more notice to her legs. Her dresses are fashioned with low, loose necklines that expose a brazen amount of cleavage. Hers is no bound and wrapped chest of a flapper. In fact, Myrtle resembles a robust healthy woman from the 1950s more than she does those child-like waifs. The costumes of her and her friends are the most colorful, wild, and fun.

Do you want to see more?
To view close-up images of the 40-some costumes Prada furnished for the background players click on this article from the stylecurated blog and also here on Fashionologie.

Illustrations: Courtesy of Catherine Martin/Bazmark
Photos: Warner Brothers

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