Few stories have come to epitomize glamour, excess and high fashion of the day quite like The Great Gatsby. It’s fitting then, that the styles in Baz Luhrmann’s grand technicolor, 3-D film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original 1925 novel, opening May 10, would employ noteworthy fashion houses of today. Prada, Miu Miu, Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co. each make stunning appearances in the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character, and Carey Mulligan as the deliciously materialistic Daisy Buchanan. Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co. have also debuted retail collections inspired by Gatsby.
The film has been years in the making and showcases the collaboration between Academy Award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin (who also collaborated on her husband, Luhrmann’s, films Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom and others) and Miuccia Prada. The two created a bespoke collection of more than 40 unique Miu Miu and Prada cocktail and evening dresses, each with an eye toward historical accuracy and a hint of modern edge, taking inspiration from Prada’s collections of the past 20 years. The pieces adorning the female characters come to life in dyed fur, silk taffeta laden with crystals, swinging fringe, glittering sequins, rich velvet and iridescent lamé, highlighting the decadence that is a clear theme in the book. “There was a lot of emphasis on appearance. Not from Baz, but from my own reading of the novel. She has to be an object of desire. She’s the golden girl,” Mulligan told Vogue of playing Daisy. “Catherine Martin’s costumes were extremely helpful in making me feel that I was Daisy.” One particularly noteworthy piece is the golden Prada party gown, dripping with crystals, which Mulligan wears to a party in Gatsby’s lavish Long Island mansion.
As with other Luhrmann period films, such as Moulin Rouge, the juxtaposition of modernity and history collide in a visually arresting way, aided greatly by the costumes. “Baz and Miuccia have always connected on their shared fascination with finding modern ways of releasing classic and historical references from the shackles of the past,” explains Martin.
The dazzling jewelry for the film was provided by Tiffany & Co., a natural fit, as the iconic American jewelry house’s archives from the 1920’s held ample inspiration for the bespoke pieces for Gatsby. “The Tiffany & Co Archives have proven to be an invaluable resource in looking back at this Golden Era of affluence and fine jewelry and the continuing tradition of excellence and exquisite craftsmanship has allowed us to both create and recreate pieces that we hope will do justice to this extraordinary novel,” Martin says.
Using the jewels as metaphors for wealth and privilege, Daisy is almost always dripping with Tiffany’s handiwork, such as tassel necklaces, conch pearls, hand ornaments with daisy motifs and diamond rings with the Tiffany Setting. Perhaps the most recognizable piece is the Savoy, a headdress of diamonds and cultured pearls. For other female characters, such as Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan Baker, Tiffany & Co. created bespoke rose-cut diamond chandelier earrings of rose-cut diamonds, diamond bracelets, cushion-cut black onyx earrings and Art Deco-inspired sapphire, diamond and platinum rings. The company also styled the interior of Jay Gatsby’s posh estate with china, sterling flatware and other home accessories. The partnership was a natural fit, as F. Scott Fitzgerald himself was a regular Tiffany & Co. customer and the brand’s first design director, Louis Comfort Tiffany, was a part of the Long Island social circles portrayed in the story.
Not to be outshone by the female cast, the men of Gatsby are dressed by Brooks Brothers, with much of the inspiration drawing from the brand’s extensive archives from the 20s. The tuxedos, finely tailored suits, shirts, ties, shoes and accessories (such as the slim card case and sterling silver flask Gatsby carries or the Deco cufflinks that adorn sleeves) are easy to imagine playing in the mind of Fitzgerald himself as he conjured characters for his novel. “Brooks Brothers is mentioned numerous times in Fitzgerald’s writings as a representation of the ultimate gentleman’s purveyor of fine clothing to the American man of distinction,” says Martin. “It is this most basic and fundamental connection that has made our collaboration so authentic.” The sheer quantity of looks created for the male cast members is staggering: Brooks Brothers produced more than 500 dapper ensembles from Martin’s designs.
The exciting result of these collaborations are costumes that at once revere the past and see styles through a modern lense, so that the film’s fashions are indicative of the Roaring 20s’ ostentatiousness and sartorial classicism.