Prada's past fashion becomes The Great Gatsby's future

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 10:12am

The glamour of the Roaring Twenties has made The Great Gatsby the most talked about movie in fashion circles. Baz Luhrmann's US$125 million adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic story of obsessive love, empty lives and extraordinary wealth has at last hit the big screen - and with it 40 dresses adapted from the Prada and Miu Miu archives.

Miuccia Prada worked closely with Luhrmann and his wife and chief collaborator, Catherine Martin, in creating dresses for the glittering Jazz Age scenes in the movie. In true flapper style, organza, tulle, metallic lamé and shimmering silk dresses drip with crystals, paillettes and fringing.

The showpiece is a crystal-laden gown dubbed the "chandelier dress", worn by Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in the pivotal ball scene. "I felt very wealthy," Mulligan told reporters. "It was so heavy and just felt so decadent and elegant."

The dress itself was based on the chandelier dress in Prada's spring-summer 2010 collection. Some of the fur stoles and simple silhouettes used in the film also harken back to the 2011 spring-summer collection.

Miuccia Prada admitted she hadn't realised how easily some of her archive designs could be translated into '20s pieces.

A selection of Prada-Martin costumes are currently on display at Prada in New York and will be shown in Tokyo and then the IFC Mall in Shanghai in mid-July. These gowns reflect the razzle-dazzle of the era yet somehow look very modern with a change of accessories.

Martin and Prada did not want the costumes to look like literal period pieces.

"Baz and Miuccia have always connected on their shared fascination with finding modern ways of releasing classic and historical references from the shackles of the past," Martin says of the creative process.

"Baz wanted costumes that felt visceral and fresh. And using something contemporary and familiar that has a sense of glamour and grandeur helps the audience understand the milieu that Gatsby flew in and the level of luxury and beauty of the period. It was a very exciting process," she says.

Luhrmann and Prada have been friends for 20 years and the director was a creative consultant for last year's exhibition, "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations", at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Despite the excess associated with the era before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Miuccia Prada surprisingly said The Great Gatsby "was not about glamour". "When I read [the book], it was psychological. It was not about glamour for me. It was a real [study of] personality, very internalised," she told WWD magazine.

But Prada is not the only luxury brand involved - Tiffany & Co created the fine jewellery for the film, including strings of pearls, jewelled headpieces, bracelets and earrings, which have gone on to inspire its Ziegfeld collection.

Brooks Brothers, meanwhile, made an entire wardrobe of suits for Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and the cast, and has backed that up with a Gatsby retail collection. We could be in for another mini-Jazz Age.