Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby is a visual firecracker and an ode to the opulence of the roaring 20s. As this is Silverscreen Revisited, though, let’s get this out of the way right now: Whatever you may think of both films, the costumes, especially Gatsby’s suits, cannot hold a candle to the 1970s version. For now, let’s focus on the film itself.
Luhrmann’s picture shows us a Gatsby that never stops trying to turn back the clock and try to win back the love of his life, one Daisy Buchanan. Of course, Gatsby is destined to fail. No matter how hard he tries, he will never be ‘old money’ and he will never be able to escape his past. The beautiful cars, the wild parties, the colourful suits: all a perfectly designed illusion to get Daisy’s attention, will never ever change where he came from; a sad fact that Gatsby refuses to accept.
The film is overloaded visually and musically. Be it the party scenes, Tom Buchanan’s New York apartment (inspired by Diana Vreeland’s iconic pad), or Gatsby’s visit to a speakeasy, every scene is a wild ride. Even the wasteland of coal that powers Gatsby’s parties is characterised by a frenetic energy. You would be hard-pressed to find a vision of the 20s quite so roaring anywhere in film.
Moreover, Lurhmann employs a number of tricks to avoid making the film feel like a period drama. The palimpsestic soundtrack, made up of orchestral pieces, jazz adaptions (made in collaboration with Bryan Ferry), and contemporary pop and rap music is, in this writer’s humble opinion, brilliant. There are three interwoven musical levels that really contribute to the vibrancy of the film and allow the audience to discover new worlds.
However, let’s not let the film distract from what is most important here. While I accept that Gatsby’s clothing may not be to everyone’s taste, his sense for the extraordinary and the eccentric is something we here at Maison Mogg are quite familiar with. The delicate pink linen suit is, of course, almost synonymous with Gatsby at this point, but the cream-coloured single-breasted three-button suit that he wears to tea should not be underestimated. Worn with a blue shirt, a yellow tie with a collar pin, and a beige and blue waistcoat, it is a stunning ensemble. Another detail that certainly aligns with our philosophy is Gatsby’s choice of spearpoint collar shirts. Beyond being simply aesthetically pleasing, they also serve the secondary function of distinguishing Gatsby from his antagonists. Regarding fit and cuts, the less said the better. I’ll just leave it at saying that the American house responsible for the suits only narrowly avoided insolvency in recent years.
If we had the honour of dressing Gatsby, we’d opt for an ice-green flannel suit. It is both colourful enough to stand out at any party, yet also subtle enough to be worn at any business lunch (for an international smuggling business, say). As he slips it on for the first time, I can already see Gatsby saying to himself: ‘My life, old sport… my life has got to be like this. It’s got to keep going up.” YS/DC/MM