There has been a lot of buzz around the 1920s lately, mainly due to the recent release of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013). Numerous posts, tweets, pinterest boards and all sorts of recipes on how to get the Gatsby look and rub off some of the Jazz Age glamour have followed. Prada, which designed Daisy’s amazing flower dress, worked with hat designer Stephen Jones to make an impressive Gatsby-inspired editorial for Vogue China, while Tiffany signed a ‘Great Gatsby’ pearl, diamond and white gold jewellery collection, Maybelline and other famous makeup brands created vintage metallic gold, silver and bronze eye shadows with an Art Deco patina, and sequined fake eyelashes, as dropped waistlines, beaded V-necked flapper dresses, turbans, hair pieces with camelias, feathers and fur, rhinestoned dance shoes, black and white stripes and the famous Louise Brooks bob cut (for brunettes) and pixie platine Jean Seberg hairstyles resurfaced; in short, from mainstream to high fashion, from perfumes, to jewellery, retro watches (Emporio Armani), lingerie, swimsuits (Marc Jacobs), accessories (Prada and DVF) and books (like ‘Chrysis’ by Jim Fergus, 2013), including retro cosmetic packaging (L’Oreal), it’s been all about Gatsby this year.
As is often the case with aesthetically daring and visually pleasing films, Gatsby received many mixed reviews: some discredited what they considered another ‘over-the-top’, ‘crowded’, Disney-like movie, while many many others felt a nostalgia for this past glamour and charm, (previously found in Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’, 2011 and Michel Hazanavicius’ ‘The Artist,’ 2011) and were drawn to it’s sophisticated set designs, precious vintage costumes (created by Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, in collaboration with Prada), sparkling jewels and beautiful colour matching that prevailed throughout the movie.
Characters and settings were quite colour-coded as Tom’s mistress Myrtle’s kitsch New York apartment and flashy-coloured wallpaper, sharply contrasted Daisy and Jordan’s pastel-toned Long Island world. The camera’s insistent ‘gaze’ on its surroundings did indeed convey a certain admiration and artistic appreciation of the beautiful, the vain and the superfluous, which would have pleased Rudolph Valentino.
Its constant focus on glasses, hair accessories and nail polish, slow motion ‘moments’, like Daisy dropping her retro lighter for instance, consecutive close-ups to the characters’ eyes, rhythmic clouds of smoke, strings of pearls breaking and glitter raining, along with Daisy and Jordan’s glamour photography poses all gave ‘Gatsby’ something of the fashion film, which made it so much more than just the costumes.
‘Gatsby’ was aimed at a young audience that could identify with British upcoming star Carey Mulligan who played Daisy Buchanan, in the leading role, just as they may previously have identified with Emma Watson, the main female character in the fairytale-like saga, Harry Potter (2001-2011). Gatsby did own a distinct modern touch as the four hundred or so modern Josephine Baker dancers and other comics characters that appeared in the party scenes jazzed to remixes of Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’ and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black.’
All in all, the beautiful film encouraged the invasion of the Art Deco style in mass market to luxury products, packaging and ads, and proved that there is an escapist desire for valuable, aesthetically pleasing, elaborately decorated and ‘significant’ items in the air, as the slogan ‘Glamour where you least expect it’ claims. Louise Kissa