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Finding Great Gatsby Style
It’s not surprising that Leonardo DiCaprio can elevate a classic like “The Great Gatsby” to the global stage by dragging it into the pop culture limelight, but can he do the same for the 1920s East Coast styles that help make it such a defining work of American fiction?
Take a flip through any of the latest home glamour or fashion mags and it becomes clear that the style of those times may not need DiCaprio’s Midas touch to reenter the mainstream.
The 1920s were a fascinating time in American history. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the end of World War I and the emergence of organized crime (thanks to Prohibition) brought prosperity to many, including the characters that inhabit F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fictional West Egg on Long Island's north shore.
Technological advancement combined with growing incomes created more opportunities for travel, communication and manufacturing versatility, which in turn fostered the spread of new ideas in style and design, particularly when it came to fashion and furniture-making.
The result was nothing short of a revolution in style. Women’s clothes became less restrictive to reflect changing roles in society, and ideas for furniture and interior design began a period of influence shaped by Europe’s Art Deco movement.
So, did these developments change how things looked in Gatsby’s world? You bet your flapper feathers they did.
It created an amazing and beautiful clash between efficiency and extravagance. For example, women’s fashion did away with poufy petticoats and bustles, but retained richness in the types of fabrics and designs that were used. As for furniture, design remained mixed throughout the Roaring Twenties. Lacquered pieces with chrome accents helped introduce the rise of streamlined design, but could not (and would not) replace ornately carved furniture with elaborate upholstery designs.
One of the most dazzling things about this period in our history is that so many people of the time lived like it wouldn’t last – and it didn’t. The Great Depression brought the party to a screaming halt in 1929 and the country didn’t fully recover for 15 brutal years.
<strong>Historical Déjà Vu </strong>
People who have been around long enough may recognize parallels between the end of the Roaring Twenties and the last several years in our country's history, which leaves one to wonder whether we are in the midst of yet another shift in design. For example, minimalism and efficiency are a natural response to economic downsizing, but are we influencing design or is it the other way around?
It’s easy to imagine Gatsby and his ilk as trendsetters of their time and that design was driven in part by a commercial desire to indulge their whimsy, but Fitzgerald makes the opposite point: that these people are too caught up in their own intrigues to influence anything but themselves.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> welcomes you to comment on your impression of Gatsby style and what you thought of the movie – no spoilers, please!