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Men'sWeek issue 06/07/2012

Robert Redford’s got nothing on Leonardo DiCaprio.

The “Titanic” star has traded in his jeans and baseball caps for a supersartorial wardrobe of tuxedos, waistcoats and bow ties as he prepares to bring the character of party-loving millionaire Jay Gatsby to life on the big screen later this year.

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In a role first made famous by Redford in 1974’s rendition of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel “The Great Gatsby,” DiCaprio takes over the lead in Baz Luhrmann’s $125 million version. He and costars Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan) were outfitted by Brooks Brothers in authentic re-creations of Twenties wardrobes. Redford was dressed by Ralph Lauren in the earlier version.

As the official men’s clothier to the film, Brooks Bros. worked closely with Academy Award-winning costume and production designer Catherine Martin, Warner Bros. and Bazmark to produce more than 500 day and evening ensembles — some 1,700 pieces, including neckwear, accessories and shoes —  for the cast and extras.

Tiffany & Co. produced the jewelry for the film, and the studio is keeping the women’s costume designer under wraps for now.

For the men’s wear, Martin worked closely with Brooks Bros.’ archivist, designers and merchants to research the outfits popular during that time and create designs that blend the textured patterns and fabrics that defined the Roaring Twenties with the storytelling needs of the film.

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Martin pointed out that Fitzgerald in fact was a Brooks Bros. customer, so the association was a natural one.

“It was this most basic and fundamental connection that has made our collaboration so authentic,” she said. “Brooks Brothers is mentioned several times in Fitzgerald’s writings as a representation of the ultimate gentleman’s purveyor of fine clothing to the American man of distinction.”

A Brooks Bros. spokesman said Martin researched hundreds of photos, original advertisements, catalogue pages and actual product from the period. This included extensive fabric research to achieve the appropriate weights, textures and colors that would translate onto the screen and reflect the era. Fittings were held in New York and Australia, where the movie was filmed, and the wardrobe was produced in Brooks Bros.’ factories, including the suit plant in Massachusetts and the Garland shirt factory in North Carolina. The retailer also employed custom tailor Martin Greenfield of Brooklyn, N.Y., to work on the project.

Martin added that the nation’s oldest retailer “has also defined the collegiate style — the preppy look — which was so close to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton heart. The same look was described in ‘The Great Gatsby’ by narrator Nick Carraway as his look of choice the first time he visits Gatsby’s mansion for one of his neighbor’s extraordinary parties: ‘Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven, and wandered around rather ill at-ease among swirls and eddies of people I didn’t know — though here and there was a face I had noticed on the commuting train.’ For all these reasons, Brooks Brothers seemed the obvious partner to work on the creation of the men’s wardrobe.”

Brooks Bros. chief executive officer Claudio Del Vecchio complimented Martin on her ability to “bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world to life. She truly has defined the men’s wear of the Roaring Twenties with her creativity, attention to details and passion for the era.”

Brooks Bros. works on many other film and television productions including “Mad Men,” “Glee,” “Law & Order” and “White Collar.” It also made the costumes for the Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

“The Great Gatsby” opens in theaters nationwide on Dec. 25.

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