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Arts in Review

Haute Stuff: Channeling Jay Gatsby

In the face of strife, the world needs laughter, charm and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek decadence. It needs gin, tonic, diamonds and lawn parties that go for days. And if we can’t experience it, we sure as anything can at least wear it.

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By Leanna Pankratz (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 1, 2012

“Youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness,” wrote Scott Fitzgerald in his ledger. “After all, life hasn’t much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.”

It was this same fast living, youth-worshipping prototype that drove the novels of the late Lost Generation writer – the gin infused party antics of a gilded generation. Ralph Lauren has packaged and sold a little bit of that delicious decadence in his spring 2012 line. A homage of sorts to the flappers and philosophers of old that makes people want to pour themselves a sidecar and do the Charleston.

In a way, the 1920s were like some frenzied chemical dream. With alcohol on the mind and jazz in the ears, the youth of the day danced their cares into oblivion. “Women in those days were more glamorous than you can imagine,” actress Tallulah Bankhead once stated in an interview with Vogue magazine. The dresses in Lauren’s collection are as exquisite as they are elegant – complete with floaty chiffon and Swarovski strewn with the same insouciance and nonchalance that a true Fitzgeraldian heroine would have exemplified. Think Gatsby party-attendee, or French Riviera chic.

Why the sudden rush to stay young in the face of global turmoil?

People are always looking for an escape. Ralph Lauren had this notion in mind as he designed his 1920s garments. In the face of strife, the world needs laughter, charm and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek decadence. It needs gin, tonic, diamonds and lawn parties that go for days. And if we can’t experience it, we sure as anything can at least wear it.

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