copyright © josh milton 2017
A riot of colour and opulence.
Having recently watched 'The Great Gatsby', I've been obsessed over the clothing of the 'Roaring Twenties.' Baz Lurmann's version of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel imbues much of the periods iconic, wild style into its many equally wild scenes. Gatsby's 2013 remake may have polarised critics, but the movie is a banquet of luscious fabrics, decadent dresses, and ambrosial head-wear; it tempts and drowns you in its martini-driven offerings.
From the outset, the 20s were to be a period of liberation. The shackles of war were gone, and the signing of the 19th amendment for the Constitution granted women the right to vote from 1920 in America. Its role in the war proponed America onto the world stage in a prosperous era. Stocks reaching unbridled heights heralded an economic boom. Prolific technologies stormed the scene. The automobile became a symbol of status, the radio and cinema enabled information to reach the hoi polloi of the lands faster than ever before seen. The men and women of the twenties became intoxicated by the shiny delights on offer, no wonder the clothing reflected that.
The main women of The Great Gatsby are one Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker. The debutantes embody the rich extravagance of 20s fashion, when clothing entered the modern era. Fashion was no longer bound to prim and proper rules and social etiquette was more relaxed.
"...the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver..."
Daisy Buchanan, played by the angelic Carey Mulligan is an upper class socialite whose choices of clothing rely on enchanting, flowing fabrics that please the eye. Her wardrobe in the film was styled by Miccuida Prada, whose brand is synonymous with outlandish feminine designs. Flapper dresses are undoubtedly Daisy, they did not accentuate, but flattened the bust line. Rebellious youth wore 'flappers' to dance the Charelston, their dresses and skirts' hemlines 'shockingly' ending above the knees. Delicate jeweled tiaras topped Daisy's rich attire. Colours were kept tame, lavenders, pinks and creams, coupled with simple pearls enabled Daisy to keep the focus on her femininity and affluence.
“I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes—there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon a golf course on clean, crisp, mornings.”
Women earning the right to vote and entering the workforce inspired a shift to more masculine silhouettes with a greater emphasis on the practical. Golfer Jordan Baker (played by Elizabeth Debicki) epitomises the latter part of the twenties, she features a more ergonomic look that opted for urban designs. Strapless, robe de style dresses are worn by Jordan instead of confining corsets. Her dresses' hemlines are short to emphasise her sportier image; such as her cloche hats. Jordan was most likely inspired by Coco Chanel, whose controversial designs of women in trousers and bathing suits helped in the emancipation of women's fashion.
"He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us. Shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray,"
Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, knew that the best way to climb the social ladder was through his image. His parties drew crowds from all walks of life, but did they come for his suits? His infamous pink suit was derided by the brute richman Tom, but it fits right into the modern era of pastel colours. Typically wearing soft, palatial hues of ivory and cream, Gatsby contrasted this with mustards, blues and reds; colours of royalty. Watching his parties, Gatsby wore satin trimmed black suits that oozed lush, but this look was comparably less rigid than past years. Rather than tailcoats, men favored short two/three buttoned jackets. Playfulness was added in the form of two-toned oxfords, straw porkpie hats and tie pins.
Gatsby once said "Can't repeat the past?...Why of course you can!" Whilst we will never be able to repeat the wild parties that made the 20s, we can still be inspired by its style. 'The Great Gatsby' has made me want to sail to Long Island and sip martinis by the pool, but most of all, it's made me want to invest in a pink suit (dam you DiCaprio). The 2013 remake has got everyone drunk on the roaring 20s, it has seized culture in its bejewled hands and won't be letting go anytime soon.