The Art Deco Society of California Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2015 was a big success with a record-setting crowd of over 1100. The weather was late-summer perfect (after a week of horribly high temps) and the Don Neely Royal Society Jazz Society Orchestra was in top form. The only thing was, “It ended too soon,” I heard people say as they wistfully packed away their vintage linens and picnic gear.
For me it was kind of unexpectedly special. Year after year I enjoy putting together outfits for Gatsby Summer Afternoon. With a collection of vintage from many eras I often cobble together looks from my closet but I have also gone shopping the season before at the Vintage Fashion Expo.
This year I decided to sport something I had been saving. It’s a dress that my older brother made back in the 80s and gave to me for my birthday one year. My brother and his wife started their fashion business Kiss of the Wolf in the late-70s and quickly became known in the wearable art world for their unique hand-painted silk clothing for women.
A simple sheath, I knew my dress had the right silhouette for the 1920s. Even though the colors of light violet and mauve are very 80s as is the diamond pattern, the combination worked just as well for the 20s. To emphasis the proper era, I took the accompanying silk sash and tied it below my waist at an angle. I added navy blue shoes and an actual 20s cloche hat, donned my grandmother’s long beaded necklace and I was Gatsby ready.
I knew it was an acceptable outfit for the very discerning crowd but I didn’t think it was anything more than that. Hey, I was wrong. Never before in all my years attending Gatsby Summer Afternoon have I received so many compliments. Both men and women made an effort to come up to me and say how fabulous they thought the dress was and how authentic. One woman said I should have won the costume contest (thanks for that!) and another commented that the whole outfit matched illustrations from 1920s fashion magazines. I mentioned, of course, that the dress actually was designed and hand-painted in the 80s by my brother, who died at a young age from cancer. People really understood then that this was indeed a very special dress.
I think my brother would have gotten a kick out of how I wore his dress and how timeless it is. I know he would be pleased that people were interested and appreciated his work.
Thanks to all the individuals who took the time to talk to me – you made my day!