Strolling through the streets of NYC at the present means you simply cannot escape Baz Luhrmann’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby at any moment. Subway stations, bulletin boards, newspapers… all are full of ads for the latest adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke and Adelaide Clemens. While the world premiere took place just recently, the official release of the movie will be May 10 in the US.
Time for us to take an in depth look at some of the over 500 men’s costumes used in the movie. Since all of them were made by Brooks Brothers their Southwick, MA facility, I had to visit the company’s flagship store on 346 Madison Ave to learn more about it. BB created a small selection of clothes inspired by the movie and the era that is currently for sale. According to Jason Nickel, the first pieces are already sold out and so I wanted to focus on the collection, its authenticity and some of the film costumes exhibited in the Brooks Brothers store.
346 Madison Ave
This is first time that I have had the opportunity to see the entire building and overall I was quite pleased. Once I stepped through the original 1915 pewter doors, the first thing I saw was red carpet, palm trees, a big chandelier, Gatsby posters and the costumes in the aisle. The largest Brooks Brothers store was nicely decorated and a large portion of the first floor was dedicated to their Gatsby collection. To my surprise, they displayed more than their film merchandise, so many costumes that were actually used in the movie were on view.
Surprisingly, Brooks Brothers had quite a few tailcoats on display, but sadly they did not offer one as part of their collection although they still sell their regular white tie ensembles. I immediately spotted the vintage features of the cut, such as a very high rise of the pants and the shoulder seams. Of course, the fit was off because they were presented on mannequins but they still looked distinctly vintage. On the other hand, the buttonholes were of much poorer quality and more in line what you are used to from modern machine made garments. Unlike Southern Europeans, Americans were early adapters of machines in clothing production. Still, it did not seem true vintage at all, and so it was not surprising to hear that these were the tailcoats used in the movie, made in the modern Brooks Brothers factory in Southwick.
Note the two decorative buttons rather than two on each side…
Although the British would never have put flaps on a proper dinner jacket, Americans experimented more and added flaps on their tuxedos. Note the short shawl collar that widens at the bottom – this is a distinct vintage look that you won’t find today unless you specifically tailor a piece for this look.
I am not sure how popular midnight blue tailcoats were in the 20’s but this herringbone version seems quite bold to me.
Brooks Brothers also issued some pictures from their archive showing their vintage coats. Overall the cut as well as the details are superior to the reproductions. For example, look at the shape of the lapel, the bow tie as well as the detachable wing collar – all spot on.
Now compare it to the modern day version – the bow tie reveals the side adjuster – an absolute don’t – and the boutonniere dangles on the side because it lacks a boutonniere loop.
The Gatsby Collection by Brooks Brothers
As you can imagine, BB only reproduced a small portion of the Gatsby costumes for the public, because it is a very specific style. Some of the pieces are already sold out – the pink linen striped suit is not one of them, which seems hardly surprising. It was probably meant to be an eye catcher, not a best seller.
I like the fact that BB brought back the boater, because it is difficult to find vintage ones in large sizes.
Interestingly, they also offered white bow ties in silk although they did not offer a tailcoat – maybe they were inspired by Obama’s outfit with a dinner jacket and white tie…
The green shawl collar cardigan was one of the pieces that made it from the actual movies to the store shelves. Overall I find it quite well designed and I hope the cotton is of decent quality but only time will tell.
Contrasting vests seem to be increasingly popular and they are indeed a fantastic way to change up your outfits.
Single breasted peaked lapel suits are a bit more glamorous than their notched lapel counterparts. As such, Tom Ford has always been an avid supporter of this style and since it was also popular in the 1920’s it is just normal to see this style in the Gatsby collection. Also, collar pins and bars were omnipresent – I hope to see more of them in the street style pictures shortly.
Pros & Cons
Although I liked the general approach to the Gatsby collection, and the fact that BB put some effort into making the style accessible to a larger audience with lighter fabrics and modern day construction, the pictures of the models wearing the clothes are not flattering – once you examine the details. Cuffs are way too wide, shirt collars are overly large, shoes don’t fit, etc. I really wonder who was responsible for these pictures.
I look forward to see the fit of the clothes in the movie and I will discuss authenticity once the movie is actually in theaters. Based on my past experiences, I am sure, the fit will not be anything worth mentioning and it won’t be authentic either, but Baz Luhrman is not exactly a stickler for 100% reproduction, so that’s fine. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that the British generally do a much better job providing authentic clothing, and make the show hugely popular – Downton Abbey is a good example of that.
What do you think of the Gatsby Collection?
Just look at these cuffs and the way the trousers fall.
Belts with vests – a classic faux pas.
What do you think of the collection?