Saturday, May 11, 2013

gatsby and me

Vogue May 2013
Carey Mulligan is stunning in the pale blue Chanel that Rita Ora rocked in pink in Elle last month. The brightness makes her  ghost-like. In this month's interview as Baz Lurhmann's Gatsby hits theaters, Mulligan talks at length about the woman that inspired the character of Daisy who is not F. Scott's wife, Zelda. Mulligan was given copies of the letters that Fitzgerald wrote to Ginervra King, a Chicago socialite that Fitzgerald loved. One remark: "There's so little to me that I'm not hard to forget quickly." This photograph reads that for me. Mulligan is being absorbed by the light; she seems to be leaving the room imagining that with her gone, she'll not be there anymore. No she won't, but how can one not remember that dress. Perhaps it is that she goes to the ledge and flutters away into the blue on the wing'd cape of her gown.

I believe that I've gone over this before, but I was very taken by F.Scott Fitzgerald during high school. Before I had to read the requisite The Great Gatsby for junior English, I had gotten a hold of an old book that my grandmother had on one of her gold shelves in her apartment in the city. She herself was very glamorous to me. She wore black and large framed Jackie O-esque sunglasses. She drove a '68 red Mustang. And she lived in the city. Hers was a studio apartment, which I didn't understand at the time. It was so small, but to me it was so cool. I was enamored of how she fitted it with little compartments and sections and her art easel. One wall in the main room was lined with gold bookcases full of hardcover books that always fascinated me. And it is there that I found the short stories. 

I started with "Berniece Bobs Her Hair," quickly moving on to the others. I loved the idea of how they lived as it was so different that how I lived on the southside, a million miles away from Evanston and the hoi polloi that Fitzgerald seem to know. I didn't fall for Gatsby. Even so, I read beyond that as my appetite was wetted by the short stories. As I've written before, the novel that I love the most is Tender is the Night. I loved Dick Diver and his family and how they knocked around the South of France. He made that dream for me of wanting to go there and know what that world was like along the Mediterranean. And I noted that having read the novel again a couple of years ago; as an adult, the story took on so much more meaning. Fitzgerald was not Gatsby, of course, but he was Dick Diver. Married to a beautiful, fragile woman, he thought that he was king of his castle, when in the end, he wasn't so much. How he saw himself was not what he actually was. I've known a couple of Dick Divers ... one who reads the book every year. I don't know if he realizes why he is so drawn to the story.

And I have visited the Rivera. I told that too if you go back a couple of months. It was there, in Nice, where I met up with my friend's landlady from Baltimore who had been a French ballerina. She lived half of the year in France, the rest in Baltimore. Baltimore is a place that the Fitzgeralds lived too. They lived in Bolton Hill, and that is where when I visited all those times, my head lie. Bolton Hill, though I have not been there in a few years, is very shabby chic, and I easily could place the Fitzgeralds living there. My friend had a wonderful apartment that he decorated with antiques. I would visit and we would drink champagne, French of course, in pretty crystal glasses that were nestled in pewter filigreed holders. He had a working gramaphone with many old records in his collection. We would light the fire and candles, uncork the bubbly, and listen to Billie Holliday, another Baltimore resident, into the wee hours. To me, that was Fitzgerald living. We were reckless with our conversation and the hours that we spent into the night.
Vogue May 2013
Now this dress that Miss Mulligan is wearing here: wowza! The costumes for the movie were designed by Catherine Martin, Luhrmann's wife and Oscar winning costumer, in partnership with Prada. The blue satin of this dress reminds me of a dressing gown of my grandmother's. When I was still in high school, she died. And it was left to my Mom to clear out the apartment in the city. She brought us with to help. It was strange being there without her there when really, we hadn't been too often. I was happy to go through her drawers of scarves and jewelry. She just was so fancy in my mind. Her jewelry for the most part was costume, but it was the good stuff that ladies bought back in the day ... in her closet, I found two things that I wore for many years. One was a black cropped wool jacket with a shawl collar, and the other was the pale blue satin dressing gown. It looked like something Joan Crawford would wear ... big shoulders, pleating in the back from a sewn in belt. It was georgeous. At the time, I would hang out at the teen disco nights, and for Halloween, I wore the dressing gown, layers of fake pearls, and a fur muff that I found in that closet too. I was asked all night: what are you? a hooker? I didn't let them bother me. I wasn't dressed up in a trick or treat way. No, I was dressed as a mood. As a period. I felt as if I could be in any of the salons in Paris hanging out with Zelda and Fitzgerald, sipping champagne and living large.

Vogue May 2013
Oh! to still have that one piece ... but there is something else that I have of grandmas and it's something that I don't ever have to worry about not having. Chanel #5. Cause that is what the lady wore, and it is what I consider to be my signature scent. Certainly, I have a petite collection of perfume, but it is the one that I always go to. I think that I may have even written a poem about ... if I were rich, I would buy enough Chanel #5 cream to smooth on my skin every day ... head to toe. And here it is in Vogue this month. It was different because it isn't just one note. 80 ingredients make this lovely elixhir. When she had it made, Coco, in 1921, sat in a restaurant on the Riviera and sprayed it, and waited for the crowds to come. Such a clever girl as it is, I believe, the top selling perfume in the world.

I wonder. Did Daisy wear it?

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