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Menswear issue 01/16/2012

Baz Luhrmann’s $125 million take on The Great Gatsby is still a year out, but F. Scott Fitzgerald fans are already getting glimpses of the cast’s costumes during the filming in Sydney.

Contrary to his off-set uniform of jeans and eye-hiding baseball caps, lead Leonardo DiCaprio has been pictured looking very Jay Gatsby in three-piece suits, tortoiseshell round sunglasses and a straw boater. His co-star Tobey Maguire, who plays the ever-admiring Nick Carraway, also appears to have taken to the dandy look. Whether these throwbacks will catch on with moviegoers is anyone’s guess, but Luhrmann and his wife, Catherine Martin, who is tending to the costumes, appear to be trying to leave a lasting fashion impression.

This story first appeared in the January 16, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The classic American novel was published in 1925 and set in the then-tony North Fork of Long Island in 1922. Film buffs need no reminding how the 1974 movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow helped to catapult Ralph Lauren’s career ( just two years after he introduced his signature polo shirt). Lauren perhaps may have been nostalgic for his ties to the Roaring Twenties, having shown flapper-inspired looks on the runway in September.

Thom Browne, another designer who can hold his own in the prepster department, also designed flapper-inspired creations for spring. The fact that a Great Gatsby remake is in the works was purely coincidence, he says. “I didn’t realize I was ahead of it.”

As for whether Luhrmann’s interpretation will resonate on the fashion front, Browne says, “If it’s done really well, it will filter down to other people’s work. But a movie like that is not so literal. And with Baz directing, he will take it in another direction. That’s what he’s so good at.”


Men’s fashion expert Robert Bryan, author of American Fashion Menswear, is more critical of DiCaprio’s and Maguire’s costumes, based on the on-location photographs that he has seen. As is the case with virtually every period film, the fashion sense is filtered through the year in which it is made, he says, noting how the 1974 version had a distinctly Seventies vibe. The cardigans Maguire wears as Carraway “look like they were made by Gant several years ago,” as opposed to having the heft or height that a shawl-collar cardigan from the Twenties would have had. And his tendency to tuck his bow tie under his shirt collar is another misstep. DiCaprio’s Gatsby also did not pass muster with Bryan, who maintains that the suits are too contemporary. Trousers without cuffs, collar bars that are far too large, lapels that are not wide enough and oversize tie knots were other faux pas, according to Bryan. “Gatsby was known to wear such beautiful, crisp shirts that they could practically move people to tears. They really fell down with the shirts and ties, which Gatsby was known for.” And don’t get him started about DiCaprio’s and Maguire’s hair.

As to which is the greater Gatsby in terms of costuming, Bryan gives a slight edge to DiCaprio, since Seventies style left such an indelible mark on the earlier film. Be that as it may, the author allows, “It’s not important to know the fashion of the Twenties to enjoy the movie.”

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