Stylizing Gatsby

The Great Gatsby movie trailer is out, and I’m suddenly confused. I thought we were getting a 1920s period film, but apparently not.

Instead it looks like one of those stylized, postmodern films. Which means it has potential to go either way. It’s from the same producers and director as Moulin Rouge! (I hated) and the Romeo + Juliet with Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (I loved). Something akin to Sin City, but not quite as aggressively styled as that film.

Interestingly, Baz Luhrmann, the director, directed the eight short films for the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibition at the Met.

To be clear, I can tell from the trailer that these costumes are not period accurate. They all look like contemporary fashion interpreting 1920s Halloween costumes. The hair and makeup look like they’re from the present day. The architecture and interior design look much too contemporary to even pretend to be from the 20s. The colors are a bit too bright and the sparkle is a bit too computer generated.

As for the acting, I’m a bit let down by this first look. I imagined Leo with prohibition-like swagger, but I don’t see that here. And Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan seemed like good casting to me, but she doesn’t seem to have to mastered Daisy’s charms. Hopefully it’s just that this trailer doesn’t capture the actors fully realizing their roles, instead of disappointing performances.

I think I could wrap my head around this version of The Great Gatsby if the film never came right out and said “this is the 1920s.” If they just pretend it’s a roaring ambiguous-moment-in-time-that-never-happened, it might work. But in the trailer’s opening seconds the voiceover tells us it’s 1922. Ugh.

So what do you think? Do you like postmodern film that mashes up time periods and styles for effect? Or do you think classics should stay true to their origin?

Rodarte on Stage

The Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte are trying their hand at costume design again, this time on the stage. Kate and Laura Mulleavy designed costumes for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni performed by the L.A. Philharmonic. The show opens May 18 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and features 20 costumes by the duo, including gowns and menswear.

This project comes after the controversy that surrounded credits for the film Black Swan. Kate and Laura created seven ballet costumes for the movie. After the release of Black Swan, reports about how many costumes they actually designed were exaggerated, and head costume designer Amy Wescott was vilified by the fashion media and in quotes from Kate and Laura. It was disappointing to read the contrived drama about what should have been a successful and celebrated collaboration. Hopefully this time around there won’t be any controversy as the Mulleavy sisters don’t have to share credit for their costume designs for the opera.

I have mixed feelings about Rodarte. The sisters’ designs have evolved toward sophistication, and their construction techniques have improved over time. They have an avant-garde aesthetic. They find inspiration and beauty everywhere, especially in untraditional places. This has gotten the Mulleavys into trouble in the past though — a beauty collaboration with MAC based on Mexico’s colors and culture was called “tasteless,” and their fall 2012 collection was accused of being offensive and insensitive because of its appropriation of Australian aboriginal designs. There is a long traditional of avant-garde fashion designers working in costume design on the stage, so it’s nice to see Rodarte carrying on that torch.

No matter what the Mulleavy sisters do in the future, I’m sure they will stay in the headlines.

Not Your Average Ballet

I am swooning hard over the avant-garde costumes designed by Gareth Pugh for the ballet production Carbon Life.

The ballet premiered last week at the Royal Opera House in London. It was choreographed by Wayne McGregor, resident choreographer of the Royal Ballet, and scored by Mark Ronson.

I really wish I could see this creation. Oh fairy god mother, plane tickets to London please?

Exhibition File – Art of Motion Picture Costume Design

If you will be in Los Angeles this month, don’t miss the “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries. The exhibition features more than 100 costumes from 20 films released in 2011. The show closes on April 28, so don’t wait!

Exhibition Hours: 10-5 Tuesday through Saturday
Admission: free
Website: fidmmuseum.org