'Gatsby' Season Feted with Exhibit for Film Costume and Set Designer

Great Gatsby Gallery Opening - H 2013

Great Gatsby Gallery Opening - H 2013

'The Great Gatsby' costume designer Catherine Martin is celebrated with an exhibit of movie props and outfits at Culver City's Century Guild Gallery, which opened Monday.

It felt like stepping back in time at Culver City's Century Guild Gallery during Monday's intimate fete for Oscar-winning set and costume designer (Moulin Rouge) Catherine Martin that featured original costumes and sketches from The Great Gatsby.

While guests ogled Art Nouveau collectibles,Gustav Klimt and Toulouse Lautrec artwork and turn of the century artifacts, the main attraction was four breathtaking costumes from Baz Luhrmann's highly anticipated and visually stunning remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel, which hits theaters on May 10. 

Daisy Buchanan's (Carey Mulligan) wedding dress and her groom's (Tom Edgerton) tuxedo were on display as were two other silk and chiffon dresses. A dozen of Martin's sketches were hung on the walls next to apt quotations from the book. 

Martin told THR that initially she was not all that enthused about her director/husband's excitement about a  remake of Gatsby.

"I had read the book when I was very young and it didn't make much of an impression on me" she admitted. "And I had also seen the film with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow."  While she felt no need to rewatch the 1974 film, she did crack open Fitzgerald's book and came away with an increased understanding and empathy for Daisy and her untenable situation. 

"Carey brings a lot of depth and complexity to Daisy," Martin reveals. "She was trapped by society and she was smart enough to know it but she could do nothing about it. It's very telling that she says of her daughter "I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.".

Her newfound passion for the book made Luhrmann laugh. "He told me, 'Oh, now you've read the book and you're an aficionado all of a sudden."

Asked why the costumes on display did not strongly project the flapper era, she explained that those influences come later in the story, when ex beau Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back into Daisy's life. "Most of these costumes are from the earlier years when dresses were very long, flowing, silk and chiffon, ultra feminine." 

One of Martin's favorite frocks in the film is the one she calls the "lavender dress."

"Daisy wears it when she meets Gatsby again. She doesn't know she's going to see him. It's a complete surprise. She's wearing a lavender colored dress and meeting a friend for lunch." 

But she also wears an amusing three-cornered hat, inspired by the hats worn by the European military, a hat trend that was very apparently quite popular for women at that time.  

"Normally she would have worn a military inspired ensemble with it. But we wanted her to wear a falling-in-love dress, silky chiffon, very feminine."

Gallery director Thomas Negovan explains how the Gatsby costume display came about.  While he has been in touch with Martin and Luhrmann since Moulin Rouge, this was a labor of love. "Basically, I wanted to see the costumes and drawings myself so I figured out a way to make that happen."

Warner Bros. Pictures' president of worldwide marketing Sue Kroll collects the artwork of Gail Potocki, whose "Fragmented Alice" collection -- a modern interpretation of "Alice in Wonderland" -- will be presented at the gallery in August, possibly by director Guillermo del Toro.  And in case you're keeping track of such things, Alice's 161st birthday will be celebrated there on May 4.

Gatsby will premiere in New York on May 1, shows in theaters in the US on May 10 and will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.

Martin's Gatsby costumes, sketches, jewelry and props will be on display at the gallery, 6105 Washington Blvd, Culver City from May 8th through

June 1, from noon to  8 PM Wednesday through Sunday.  Follow their Facebook for more updates