It’s amazing how even knowing about a film’s existence, let alone watching it, can seem to influence the zeitgeist in fashion. This has been the case with Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby, which isn’t out until December and yet seems to have had an influence on the Spring/Summer 2012 collections which hit the catwalks way back in September 2011 (I know, it’s ridiculous – why can’t the shows be closer to the real seasons? Someone needs to sort that out…)
Flapper girl style on the Spring/Summer 2012 catwalks at Gucci and Emporio Armani
Did the designers who took Daisy Buchanan as their muse peer into a collective crystal ball when they first took pen to sketchbook? Or were they just scouting around for a new decade to plunder pay homage to and decided that the roaring ‘20s hadn’t been done for a while?
Either way, I don’t really mind when fashion is influenced by the designs of another time – literature and film do this constantly because ultimately there are only a finite number of plots, but human ingenuity means they can be told and retold in endless different ways. The same applies to fashion; each generation reimagines the clothes of an earlier decade through the prism of their time, using advances in technology to make it feel relevant rather than fancy dress.
Doomed decadence at Yves Saint Laurent (not terribly summery)
So when we saw drop-waisted dresses tripping down the catwalks at Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Emporio Armani, they were futuristic in metallic fabrics, daringly sheer or featured unexpected colour combinations and sporty cut-out details. Now we can ponder whether Yves Saint Laurent was making a profound statement about the current economic climate and the Great Depression by referencing the doomed decadence of that era in luxurious black and gold evening gowns, but quite frankly I'd rather talk about how this look might work in reality.
A lot of the ‘20s-inspired fashion on the catwalk looked like eveningwear to me, and came in dark sumptuous tones (golds, blacks, lots of fancy beading and fringing) that seemed rather more suited to Autumn/Winter than Spring/Summer. I think the high street has done a great job at making this particular trend wearable for warmer weather.
Forget opulent fringing and dark, seedy speakeasies and instead imagine yourself looking cool in a pristine white sailor dress at a picnic in the park (sitting on a blanket obviously – think of the grass stains, shudder…) Jaeger have created the ultimate Daisy Buchanan sailor dress and it’s been reduced from £160 to £99! Then there’s the ‘Highgate’ sporting vest, £69, from Hobbs’ NW3 collection which features illustrations of tiny little ‘20s-style people all over it.
Hobbs top and Jaeger Boutique sailor dress
This rather lovely little Youtube tribute to The House of Elliot – one of my favourite TV shows – has done more to convince me to try the ‘20s trend than The Great Gatsby ever could. The Elliot sisters, Bea and Evie, look so chic and elegant in their slouchy silk pyjamas, vibrant printed headscarves and cool kimonos that I’m willing to give it a go.
Imagine lounging around drinking iced tea in one of these Topshop kimonos...
Fringe kimono by Coco's Fortune, £55, and hibiscus print kimono, £60, both Topshop.com
Shimmy like a Charleston-dancing flapper in River Island's fringed, beaded numbers.
Black fringed dress, £60, and white beaded dress, £80, both Riverisland.com
If a silly sequinned headband thing is good enough for Evie Elliot, it's good enough for me (maybe).
Silver feather hairband, £5.99, and Aftershock Boutique grey seqion domino dress, £129.99, both Newlook.com
Gatsby be damned, I'd wear these beautiful brogues whether they were 'on trend' or not
ASOS Message perspex brogues, £35, Asos.com
So what do you think - will you be giving the '20s a whirl this summer, or is it a trend that's best left to the big screen?