Explore and shop our Gatsby-inspired Styleboard.
Baz Luhrmann, a director known for his mastery of spectacle, introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless and enigmatic character to a new generation of moviegoers over the weekend. The release of the film, a spectacle in its own right after having been pushed back from its December release, has everyone talking Gatsby – including us.
What is it about Jay Gatsby that captures our imagination? Certainly, it’s more than his millions. It may be his ability win over anyone with a smile (said to be one of four or five smiles we’ll encounter in a life). Or could it be the grand plan he always had for himself? Or better still, is it his incorruptible vision of Daisy, immune to all the sums of family money in West Egg and East Egg combined?
The truth is, everyone has their interpretation of Gatsby, and when we set out to curate a Gatsby-inspired Styleboard, we had some definite ideas in mind for what it should entail. First, entertaining would guide everything. Not just entertaining for a special occasion, but entertaining for entertaining’s sake – the way Gatsby’s summer parties attracted revelers in droves without a real cause for celebration other than a Saturday night. Next, the details would matter, and on a grand scale. Like Gatsby, we thought the overall look should be well-traveled, but not random or unfocused. Finally, and it may have been a given from the beginning, we needed to style it and shoot it ourselves.
The team met outside a 1920s French-provincial-style home on the first undeniable day of spring. This is where we’d bring Gatsby to life. A long semicircular drive set a towering pine away from the house. Vines scaled the stonework. Just around back, a conservatory became the first backdrop of the day.
The first setup involved a teak serving cart, folding chairs, a two-tiered bone china server done in the style of Japonisme, and Waldorf chicken salad sandwiches (you’ll find the recipe below). Then we went for the experimental scene involving a dozen or so parasols lying on the ground, as if partygoers had hastily left them there in their excitement.
It wouldn’t be a Gatsby-themed photo shoot if we didn’t spend most of our time on the front lawn, and that we did. The foreground for this large and involved setup consisted of pure white benches, boxwood topiaries, croquet necessities, aged trunks, and vintage glassware repurposed for vases. The drink you see is cucumber lemon mint water (recipe to follow). Notice how the boxwood topiaries draw you into the scene and suggest a larger garden outside of the frame. A pair of folding deck chairs claims a slope in the background. The strung white banners and pendants are actually vintage cutout placemats meant to give the scene a feel of festivity.
Our stylist Krystin Marsh thought the scene should have a voyeuristic quality true to the novel. Krystin’s own preference for garden elegance guided prop selection and arrangement. She gave a nod to Art Deco patterning with modern geometric fabrics and kept the color palette wistful. The house was our foundation. It implied the presence of an owner, but as a viewer, we never see him or her. Prop arrangements like a croquet mallet leaning casually against a bench furthered this idea.
This was our take on Gatsby and subject matter sure to inspire trends throughout 2013. Shop the look on The Great Gatsby Styleboard.
Interested in making Waldorf chicken salad sandwiches for your next garden party? Here’s the recipe:
- 2-4 cups shredded and chopped rotisserie chicken
- 1-2 chopped granny smith apples
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4-1/2 cup light mayo
- 1/4-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoon juice from lemon
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Loaf of wheat bread, thinly sliced
Mix all of the chicken, apples, celery, and, pecans. Mix together the mayo, yogurt, lemon, and parsley, then mix with the chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread on wheat bread. To keep bread from getting soggy, spread a thin layer of mayo on each slice first. Achieve crisp edges by refrigerating the sandwiches for at least an hour before cutting, and cut bread into triangles.
Also, the cucumber lemon mint water is a good old-fashioned drink of choice for all ages and it’s easy to make:
Cut cucumbers into thin ribbons and lemons into thin slices. Add them to water, along with a few sprigs of mint. That’s it!
- Sean, hayneedle.com editor