Saturday, June 2, 2012

A little Gatsby magic

The release of the trailer for Baz Lurhmann's film 'The Great Gatsby' marks the start of what I hope will be an influx of art deco and Roaring Twenties style accessories and design for the next few months until the film's release in December.

Here are 5 elements of Great Gatsby style - whether you're dressing for a theme party or just to give your average day a little Gatsby magic:

1) Red Lips - In Gatsby's era, women chose to wear dark red lipstick as a symbol of their new-found independance. While lipstick dates back thousands of years it was in the 1920's that make up was available in portable containers and it became acceptable to apply lipstick in public. Up until then, lipstick was sold in pots and it was taboo to apply it anywhere except in the privacy of home. The lipstick swivel tube was invented in the 1920's and make up brands like Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder started to stock the new format. Usually worn with dark kohl eyeliner (a look sometimes created by using burnt matches).

2) Bobbed hair - Boyish cuts and bobbed hair were another symbol of women kicking back at pre-war expectations. Tired of styling long tresses and encouraged by the likes of Clara Bow, a popular actress, it became fashionable to wear short hair, often adorned with art deco style headbands, or hidden under cloche hats. 

3) Knee-length, box-shaped dresses - The 1920's also represented liberation from previously constraining fashion. Hemlines rose, waistlines fell and shapely curves all but disappeared. 

4) Language - Every era has its slang and the 1920's was no exception. Bring back a little old-school style by saying something is 'the cat's meow' or 'the cat's pajamas' if you like it. 

5) Attitude - The 1920's were characterised by the cultural shift after WW1 towards a break from tradition. Modern inventions like the automobile, moving pictures and radio entered the mainstream consciousness, acting like a pressure-valve on long-standing traditions. People felt a greater sense of freedom than before the war and it turned up everywhere, from fashion to a spirited enjoyment of jazz and dancing.