It's been a very twenties Summer.
For the infamous Film Fatale Gatsby's Mansion event, I dug out my long pearls and fashioned myself a peacock turban. It's the highlight of the vintage calendar. Croquet on the lawn, a gin bar at every corner, jazz, brass bands and cabaret acts as the night wore on.
The style on the night wasn't all flapper. I saw tea dresses and cloches (very Miss Marple!) and even bias cut silk evening gowns. I fancied myself as a film noir starlet for a change, perhaps the lead suspect in an Agatha Christie Poirot novel...
This was my second Film Fatale party this year. Their masquerade ball in the Spring was fabulous but nothing tops the glamour of their twenties party. There's a reason it's the biggest and best known vintage affair in Europe.
If you missed Gatsby's Mansion this year then I've bad news. It's unlikely to be repeated until 2019. But don't pack away your glad rags just yet...they're hosting the most stylish Halloween party around at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (IMMA). Billed as a a Prohibition party, they encourage "surrealists, the ghosts of Weimar, masqueraders, gothic goddesses, vamps, femmes fatales, flappers, gangsters, the beautiful and the damned" for a night of brass and red hot jazz.
CAN'T WAIT! And I think I'm going to give away some tickets so keep your eyes peeled.
In the spirit of sustainable style, the whole ensemble was recycled when we snagged tickets to the sold out Gatsby at the Gate.
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
What can I add to the rave reviews of The Great Gatsby at the Gate that you haven't heard before?
The seats were ripped out and replaced by Jay Gatsby's monogrammed dancefloor so that it's an immersive performance. You are Mr Gatsby's guest for the evening and the story unfolds in vignettes around you. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the Veuve Cliquot Champagne bar or to nurse a fishbowl of Tanqueray. The bourbon was Bulleit.
But the clothes....! The audience (certainly at our performance) was so well dressed that it was not immediately possible to discern the cast from the guests (check #GateGatsby on instagram and twitter to see what I mean). Although I'm sure Peter O'Brien (couturier and costumier) would have something to say about my assessment, the scale of audience participation in twenties dress was breathtaking. The previous Saturday night, some friends and I had gaped at the revellers spilling into the Shelbourne bar after that night's performance, convinced that they must all be actors. Shout out to the man in the tux who asked the price of a bottle of Dom Perignon and then settled for Moet. You know what they say, if you have to ask you can't afford it!*
This was no place for a joke shop feather boa. Think full length, intricately beaded drop waist gowns, sparkling headpieces, feathered capes and T-bar dancing shoes. Men wore gangster pinstripes and cocked trilbies, salmon hued blazers or tuxedos. Pity the couple who didn't get the memo and arrived in jeans right before the party started. Their embarrassment was palpable.
We mingled and danced with the cast, drink in hand. As the Irish Times' review explains, the audience watches the story unfold in the main ballroom and through individual first person narratives. During the performance, we spoke to Gatsby himself as he urged us to enjoy ourselves and exchanged pleasantries with Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan who admired my date's double breasted suit complete with a matching hat. However, we were most acquainted with other characters.
We sat in one of Gatsby's 'drugstore' speakeasies and watched parts of the story unfold from tragic Myrtle and Kitty Wilson's perspective. They danced and sang and explained the various romantic entanglements. Later, a business associate of Gatsby's took us on a tour through the house, stopping in the library for a bourbon, and swore us to secrecy about the true nature of those drugstores. We even found photographer Chester McKee's dark room while he was our guide for a time.
It was an unusual way to stage a play and works well for a classic like Gatsby on the basis that you already know the bones of the story. I just loved the opportunity to don my twenties finery. And judging from the reaction this production got, so did everyone else! Even the cast have admitted they were shocked at the audience engagement. Definitely one not to be missed if it returns to Dublin.
Of course, a nightcap in the Blind Pig was the obvious way to end a Prohibition themed outing...🍸🍸🍸
* As an aside, did you know that a bottle of Dom in the Black Door is relatively reasonable? Over €400 in the Shelbourne but only €250 if you want to drink it at 3 am or thereabouts! Needless to say we were not drinking Dom Perignon at the Black Door but I thought I'd leave this nugget here in case anyone wants to take me out and impress me!
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"