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Posts Tagged ‘The Great Gatsby film’

imagesWhile researching The Great Gatsby, I enjoyed the detective work and the discovery of all kinds of ephemera in archives, catalogs, and magazines … But, I too found my inspiration in the text. What’s particularly interesting about Fitzgerald is that, unlike many authors who never mention clothes, he was obsessed with how clothing tells you who people were. He describes in great detail every outfit Gatsby wears because Gatsby’s creation of himself as a gentleman relied on his ability to gather attention to his social station.

(As told to The Costume Designer: The Official Magazine of the Costume Designers Guild.)

– Catherine Martin, costume designer. Ms. Martin won her third and fourth Oscars for best costume design and best production design – The Great Gatsby. She also won best costume and production in 2002 for Moulin Rouge.

Congratulations Ms. Martin!

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I think women are really going to tap into the Gatsby look because it’s quite feminine and soft and joyful, and I think that, post financial crisis, people are looking for a little joy. And women are rediscovering the power a hat has to transform their look and to give them some extra ways of styling themselves.

Rosie Boylan, milliner. (Ms. Boylan created most of the 1000 hats used in the new The Great Gatsby film.)

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Hats designed by Rosie Boylan for The Great Gatsby.

Hats designed by Rosie Boylan for The Great Gatsby.

Hats are always important. Full stop … Hats enhance the characters, create an otherworldliness, and help the audience understand that we’re in a time other than our own.

Catherine Martin, costume designer for The Great Gatsby

Ms. Martin worked with milliner Rosie Boylan designing hats for the blockbuster film, which premieres May 10th, 2013.

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Helen Uffner (far right) and her helpers. Left to right: Chelsea Bjerk, Lauren Bostic, and Dan Travis. Photo: Richard Aiello.

Helen Uffner (far right) and her helpers. Left to right: Chelsea Bjerk, Lauren Bostic, and Dan Travis. Photo: Richard Aiello.

Helen Uffner is well-known around NYC and Hollywood for having the best old duds. She runs her own business renting period clothing and accessories for theater productions, films, television, magazine editorials, and book covers. 

I met Ms. Uffner over hats at the reception opening for the Milliner’s Guild exhibition. When I mentioned that I write about fashion and have a fondness for vintage, Ms. Uffner generously invited my partner and me to her warehouse.

Now that’s an offer I wasn’t going to refuse. Plans we had for the next day were forgotten as we hopped on the subway to Queens and knocked on the door of Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing, LLC.

It seemed a fun place to work. Vintage tunes played in the background as staff chatted with actors who were getting fitted for a local play. A woman visiting from Hollywood was sorting out costumes for an upcoming film. 

When not busy reorganizing or working with clients, the staff model some of the merchandise for Ms. Uffner’s Etsy site, Vintage Pickle. Apparently on some days they just can’t resist playing dress-up.

What started as a personal collection for Ms. Uffner is now a 6000-plus square foot warehouse of clothing for men, women, and children from the 1860s on.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Since she was a young teen, Ms. Uffner has been drawn to all things antique and vintage. Her first purchase was a 1920s beaded dress for $5, which she found at a flea market in Connecticut. “Then I went to a big antique faire,” she explains, “and I had to debate for about an hour and a half whether or not I could spend $20 on an Edwardian dress.” Good sense won out and she still has both of those dresses.

As a fine arts major in college, Ms. Uffner continued to collect but never with the thought of wearing her pieces. She preferred to study the fabric and construction of what she considers works of art. Everything she bought she hung or kept in boxes at home. Before long she became the go-to person for friends and friends-of-friends in need of a costume for this or that. One day the costume designer for Woody’s Allen’s film, Zelig came over and ended up buying just about everything Ms. Uffner had. (BTW, the film won an Academy Award in 1984 for Best Costumes.) It was then that she realized she could rent rather than sell, and a business was born.

In addition to basic clothing, Ms. Uffner has undergarments for men and women, hats, handbags, ties, shoes, anything needed for a complete period ensemble. Among her many clients are popular fashion designers who rent pieces to copy for their own lines.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Ms. Uffner stores everything on racks or shelving arranged by time period, then color and fabric. “We don’t quite do it by decade,” she explains, “but by how styles changed.” Interns are charged with sifting through the racks looking for misplaced pieces, which is a great way to learn about vintage details. Details that Ms. Uffner can rattle off the top of her head. Such as, button-fly trousers for men are Victorian to the early 1930s.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Photo: Richard Aiello.

Over the past 35 years, Ms. Uffner has provided clothing for the films Fatal Attraction, Out of Africa, The Color Purple, Mona Lisa Smiles, Julie & Julia, Mildred Pierce (HBO), and Far From Heaven just to name a few. Currently staff is working on 42 and Behind the Candelabra. Theater productions include The Producers, The Seagull, Trip to Bountiful, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Oh, and Catherine Martin, costume designer for the new Great Gatsby film spent six months visiting the warehouse and renting various pieces for inspiration.

Ms. Uffner is still actively buying, both for the business and her collection. She says her personal favorites are not necessarily the pretty dressy pieces, but the character clothes – the faded, patched, lived-in and worn. “Because they have a story.”

Ms. Uffner spent two hours showing us around and answering our questions. It was a rare NYC treat for this vintage-lovin’ tourist.

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The word is that we will have to wait approximately six months longer for the release of  The Great Gatsby. The powers-that-be have rethought the December 2012 release date and decided to wait until summer 2013.

Apparently Warner Brother Pictures think that The Great Gatsby is the perfect summer film and will have a greater audience draw during that time. But I wonder if perhaps it might have something to do with the lousy reviews the trailer is getting on YouTube.

I watched the trailer and personally I don’t like the modern sensibility brought to the film. I intensely dislike the music and cannot belive they aren’t using some of the fabulous Jazz tunes of the era. Also, there’s a 21st century quality to the cinematography that hits the wrong note. Of course, the producers are trying to appeal to the younger movie-going demographic by giving them something they can relate to, but it’s not working for a period film. WB claims that they are very happy with the film as is, but I’m hoping that’s just a line and there is some serious re-shooting/re-editing going on.

Click here for related story on the costumes for The Great Gatsby.

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Brooks Brothers costumes for The Great Gatsby.

There have been five film versions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best known novel, The Great Gatsby and come December we will have another. Those of us with a fondness of 1920s  fashions are certainly looking forward to the visual feast.

A feast it will be! WWD recently reported that Brooks Brothers supplied all the costumes for the male actors and extras. Working with the film’s costume designer Catherine Martin, Brooks Brothers provided re-creations of 1920s wardrobes including suits, tuxedos, and leisure wear. All the clothing was made in the company’s factories located in Massachusetts and North Carolina. (U.S. Made – I like that!)

Founded in 1818 in New York City, Brooks Brothers was the first shop in America to offer ready-to-wear men’s clothing. The company quickly became known for its classic collegiate style. Indeed, Fitzgerald himself was a Brooks Brothers man.

Ralph Lauren’s Jay Gatsby costume in 1974.

Ralph Lauren provided the men’s fashions for the 1974 film dressing Robert Redford, Sam Waterston, and Bruce Dern. What a coup for the upcoming designer with a brand new business. Although the film itself was a flop, costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge won an Oscar that year and Bloomingdale’s sold an adapted clothing line inspired by the film.

For now the production company is mum on who has designed the women’s costumes but Tiffany & Co. provided the jewelry.

We have to be patient and wait until December 25th for the film, but in the meantime we can recreate our own 1920s party with The Gatsby Summer Afternoon coming up on September 9th.  The Art Deco Society of California is furiously working on what has become THE costume event of the year. You betcha I’ll be there, Old Sport.

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