As the camera pans over 1920s New York in the opening of the newly released Great Gatsby trailer, you might expect a soundtrack of brassy, hip-shimmying jazz.
But this is Baz Luhrmann, the man who had Shakespeare’s brave Mercutio dressed in drag and belting out Young Hearts Run Free. The man who gave Paris circa 1900 a soudtrack of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Like A Virgin. And those films, it’s important to note, were his biggest successes.
So here we have our first preview of what the world of Gatsby will look like through the eyes of Baz Luhrmann, and it’s a world of startlingly clever historical inaccuracies. Our bird’s eye view of roaring twenties New York is, in this trailer, backed by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Why? Because if there’s one thing Luhrmann is a master of, aside from theatrical visuals, it’s making something old new again. In fact it’s more than that… Luhrmann (when at his best) takes something old and makes it relevant to a contemporary audience. He gives us a way to relate. Fail to do that and his films fail full stop (case in point: the historial drama Australia. Perhaps it might have been saved by a little bit of Seattle grunge).
And it’s the same story for the costume design. For Luhrmann to succeed in romancing our fashion aspirations, the film has to give flapper fashion contemporary relevance. We have to want to wear it, right now.
For in 2012 and 2013 fashion revivals are not about being doggedly faithful to an era. We’re flirting wantonly with different decades, picking the bits we want and leaving the rest to the mercy of time. Any dalliance with ’20s fashion that sits successfully with our current mindset is one that steers clear of looking like costume.
From the first Gatsby trailer it seems Luhrmann and co might just have nailed the contemporary feel. Much of what’s on display is clothing we could picture ourselves in right now, and that’s what makes it alluring and relatable to a modern audience; just as the music is.
Glimpses of Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan Baker put her in a black dress with a sparkling embellished neckline and belt that could be off a 2012 runway. The concept of the mandatory flapper headband is given a theatrical and stylish overhaul with what could be couture headwear pieces, like something that might have accompanied a Chanel or a McQueen underwater inspired collection.
The menswear too is sharp – collar bars visible beneath perfectly aligned ties, waistcoats layered beneath jackets – but never looks to stray too far from the suit cuts we’re comfortable with.
If the new Gatsby film stuck to historical accuracy we might see more pencil-thin eyebrows and sackish dress cuts, more pant pleating and boxy suits; but this little window into Luhrmann’s interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age suggests the director may just have learnt his lesson. Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby trailer is promising a film that’s more Romeo + Juliet and less Australia. And if it follows through on that promise it might just keep the 1920s on the list of eras influencing modern fashion.
We’ll know more of course the more we see. But for now, you can watch the first The Great Gatsby trailer by hitting play above.