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Anna G. Larson, Published May 02 2013

Gatsby glamour: ’20s looks come roaring back into style

FARGO - Fringy, feminine and slightly sultry, fashion is taking a cue from the Golden Age, and as Jay Gatsby proclaimed in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”

Designers – Fendi, Gucci and Ralph Lauren, to name a few – have embraced the 1920s in anticipation of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” on May 10.

Modern women can achieve the look of the 1920s with the bob or finger-wave hairstyle, a red lip and one ’20s-inspired piece of clothing, says MeJeanne Couture designer Christelle Dominique of Fargo. Last year, Dominique wore a tiered white dress from Forever 21, layers of pearls and a thin headband across her forehead to achieve a 1920s look for her birthday party.

“I put it together that day. It really doesn’t take that much,” she says. “A top with beading or layers and layers of jewelry – something with sparkle – that for me screams, ‘She’s going 1920s.’ ”

The modern interpretation of ’20s style from designers mostly foregoes the boxy silhouette and long hemlines in favor of shorter, swingy dresses and long, fitted gowns. The May issue of Vogue magazine features “Gatsby” star Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan, in show-stopping designs that marry past and present. Menswear label Brooks Brothers and Miuccia Prada of the Prada fashion house worked with costume designer Catherine Martin to create the costumes for the movie.

“I think the Vogue feature really epitomizes the look of that time,” says Pam Kinslow, owner of downtown Fargo’s Violet Vintage in the Black Building. “It’s that lost-in-time fashion that is resurging right now. The fashion world hasn’t witnessed such a big comeback of vintage style as it has the past few years.”

Kinslow, like Dominique, says the right hairstyle, makeup and one key piece of clothing can add ’20s flair to a modern outfit.

She suggests wearing a beaded top with a smoky eye and red lip.

“Add a beautiful piece – something beaded and luxurious – during the day or evening when you’re going out. Make life more special,” Kinslow says.

The vintage boutique owner says women might dismiss the idea of wearing long, ankle-grazing dresses, so accessories are an easier way to add a 1920s feel to an outfit.

Diamond and colored-stone jewelry, pearls, close-fitting cloche hats and clutches are key accessories of the period, Kinslow says. Heels and sandals with cut outs or a T-strap and thicker, shorter heels honor the era.

For women who prefer pants instead of dresses, Dominique suggests wearing a cigarette-leg pant with a blazer, a button-down shirt in a pastel color, layers of pearls and a cloche hat.

She adds that pastel colored clothing or breezy, sheer layers are an easy way to add a touch of ’20s to any look. Her favorite pastels from the decade are light pink and pale beige. She refers to the colors as blush and champagne.

Additionally, Egyptian motifs, flouncy feathers, geometric prints and anything Art Deco emulates the look of the 1920s, Dominique says.

Kinslow describes the overall look of the ’20s as innocent but sophisticated – something she says any modern woman can pull off.

“Why not allow one’s self to show femininity in a very beautiful way? It’s the glamour and beauty of that time that’s so appealing,” she says.

Dominique and Kinslow both point to the film’s nostalgia for influencing fashion. Kinslow says the fashion in “The Great Gatsby” connects people to history.

“The film is going to be such a phenomenon, and all these designers have been revealing the beauty and history behind that era,” she says. “It’s the resurgence of that gilded era.”

Actors have added to the popularity of 1920s style, Kinslow says. Olivia Wilde, Kate Bosworth, Emmy Rossum and Christina Applegate have all been spotted in ’20s trends like flapper dresses and headpieces. The look has spread to wedding attire as well, and Tiffany & Co. recently released its Gatsby-inspired jewelry line.

Dominique likens “The Great Gatsby” to the “Sex and the City” television series and movies and their effect on fashion.

“With ‘Sex and the City,’ everything was referred to as Carrie or Samantha-like for years,” she says. “I think you know when a movie or show is going to be a big fashion influence in peoples’ lives.”

“Gatsby” was supposed to be released last year, when most designers were showing 1920s styles in their collections. The delayed release date has Dominique cautiously optimistic about the staying power of the movie and its fashion.

“I think it lost a little of its momentum when they pushed the release date, but the trailers for ‘The Great Gatsby’ show that there’s so much fashion in it,” she says. “I think the trends have shifted a little, but it’s still a big trend, and anyone can do it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525