Those of us who yearn for the grace of the early 20th century have our own time machine called Gatsby Summer Afternoon. This popular event is a period costume picnic held every second Sunday in September at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in the Oakland Hills and it’s produced by the Art Deco Society of California. In its 30th year, Gatsby Summer Afternoon is coming up on Sunday, September 14th.
Attendees arrive all decked out in 20s garden party day-wear and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food (hello Jell-O and tea sandwiches). The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and perhaps winning one of the contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, or Best Picnic Site. Oh, and everyone enjoys the Decobelles dance routine and the crowning of this year’s Miss Art Deco.
Heather Ripley is a regular and often volunteers. In fact one year she was the event Chair and this year she’s on the planning committee. What Heather appreciates most is the elegant ambiance of the day. “It’s amazing to see the lawn transform from an empty field to a charming picture postcard scene from another era,” says Heather. “I make a point to take a few minutes to stop and step back and drink it all in.”
There’s plenty of time to purchase tickets and get thinking about what to wear. A little stumped? Not to worry, show up on the day and stop by The Costume Closet where vintage stylist Jonathan Belmares and his assistants will suit you up. Picnic sites can be as simple or elaborate as you like or skip that part and just roam the grounds.
Gatsby Summer Afternoon is THE period costume event of the year and a lovely note on which to end the summer. Check out the website for all the information you need, including tips on:
- fashions of the era
- how to put together the perfect picnic site
- what kind of food fits the bill
- and all the dos and don’ts of the day!
See you there, Old Sport!