Remember the costumes in The Great Gatsby? Of course you do. Such stunners aren’t easily forgotten. But not everyone was equally in awe of them – Miuccia Prada faced some criticism over their historical inaccuracy. Were the naysayers right? Yes and no. Yes, because no one with basic knowledge of fashion history could mistake Daisy’s dresses for authentic 1920s designs. No, because the pieces achieved the desired effect – one that more “realistic” styles would not.
Today, genuine jazz age flappers would look quaint, simple and almost modest – back then, they caused a scandal. Gowns of the 1930s may now seem classically elegant, but in their days they were seen as opulent and over the top. If Daisy appeared on screen the way Fitzgerald imagined her, we’d think of her as classy and charming – while, as Carey Mulligan rightly pointed out, she was meant to be more of a Kardashian.
This couture season, Donatella Versace pulled a Prada. Her fall 2013 collection was inspired by the glamour of old Hollywood, as immortalized in the photographs on Man Ray and Horst P. Horst – but pimped up with some 2013 flashiness. She showed little black dresses, spiced up brave cut-outs, chains and safety pins (perhaps referencing Donatella’s spring “vunk” show more than the actual punk movement.) Lindsey Wixson strolled down in a shimmery piece that, at first sight, resembled a Mae West-worthy gown, but, at a second glance, turned out to be a jumpsuit. There were also a few “modernized” coats, some with more success than others: call me old fashioned, but that blue mink with slits is downright ridiculous.
By all means the most beautiful part of the show was the more subtly sensual lingerie, comparable to Jean Paul Gaultier’s stunning designs for La Perla. But no matter how exquisite a bra, I wouldn’t recommend putting it on show. Even more problematic were the dresses that begged for a bra underneath, but very clearly revealed the lack of one. The sexual message here is too obvious to be alluring or tasteful.
Yet – exactly the same concern was raised nine decades ago about the then-new jazz age fashions. If Donatella wanted to provoke the same reactions they had brought about, she succeeded. Maybe this is true historical accuracy.
Fashion Rated: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆