Catherine Martin | The Great Gatsby
Confession time here: I’m not a big fashion guy. Costumes are one of the last components of film that I really try to examine; however, they hold a great importance in crafting mise-en-scene, visually placing the moviegoer into the “world of the film.”
For me, out of the five films that were nominated for Best Costume Design (American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, 12 Years a Slave, The Grandmaster, and The Invisible Woman), The Great Gatsby did the best job of using its costumes to fully transport me into the movie. Not known for subtlety, director Baz Luhrmann made F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel into an over-the-top spectacle, and costume designer, Catherine Martin, matched his vision with a bright, lavish wardrobe. Three piece suits, flapper dressers, and fedoras were not enough; each ensemble in Gatsby is loud and colorful to the extreme, reflecting both the excess of greed that so many of the shallow characters possess and the surrealistic nature of the film’s universe, where auto-tuned, hip-hop plays and fountains upon fountains of champagne are poured at Gatsby’s parties.
Despite having many major issues with the way that Luhrmann translated Fitzgerald’s words from the page onto the screen, the costuming throughout The Great Gatsby cannot be considered anything less than stunning. Catherine Martin did an excellent job at illustrating Luhrmann’s vision through her designs, and she deserves to be recognized for her ability to be make the unimaginable wealth and greed of the citizens of New York in the 1920s a tangible, physical presence for film audiences.