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'The Great Gatsby': Costume designer Catherine Martin on collaborating with Miuccia Prada

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Image Credit: Chris Moore/Getty Images

Costume designer Catherine Martin enlisted the help of Miuccia Prada to create costumes for director Baz Luhrmann’s big screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby (in theaters May 10), but although recent coverage in the fashion press seems to imply that Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) is clothed exclusively in Prada, the film’s leading lady wears just one design from the Italian label.

“[Carey Mulligan's] Daisy costumes were made in-house in Australia and designed by me,” Martin told EW. “I had a workshop of about 90 people… I designed and had made all of the principal women’s costumes within that workshop, and a lot of the incidental male costumes.”

While the rest of the 40 reworked designs from the Prada and Miu Miu archives are worn by secondary characters, Daisy’s only designer moment comes during one of the film’s two lavish party scenes. 

“[Daisy's] party dress, when she goes to Gatsby’s party, was a redux of a Prada dress, a crystal dress, that she had done previously,” Martin said of the chandelier frock — made of crystal drops connected by a net of small metal rings — which was inspired by look 33 from Prada’s Spring/Summer 2010 runway collection.

Bringing fashion designers into movie wardrobe departments has caused costume drama in the past — legendary costume designer Edith Head won an Oscar for her work on Sabrina in 1955, but it was French couturier Hubert de Givenchy who actually created the elegant gowns worn by Audrey Hepburn’s character, and it is still uncertain whether Ralph Lauren or costume designer Ruth Morley deserves the credit for Diane Keaton’s androgynous outfits in 1977’s Annie Hall — but Martin said Prada didn’t just donate clothes, she also helped shape the new Gatsby aesthetic.

“[Miuccia] always sees the future with vintage eyes, and I think Baz kind of always sees the past through modern eyes, so there’s an interesting nexus of thought,” Martin explained. “So, after a very lengthy, intellectual collaboration where we talked about these modern garments infiltrating the story… she contributed 40 costumes. [They] provide this wonderful texture and these different characterizations. Miuccia is a very thinking designer.”

This isn’t the first time Martin and Luhrmann have worked with the Italian designer; Prada worked with Martin on 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, designing a suit worn by Leonardo DiCaprio, while Luhrmann created a series of short films for the Met’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.

Martin, who also worked with Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co to create costume pieces for Gatsby, says the film’s wardrobe is the result of “great collaborations.”

Reporting by Josh Rottenberg

Read more:
Prada’s Great Gatsby costumes, the Batmobile sells for $4.2 million and more
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