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  • Warner Bros.

    Tobey Maguire, left, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton live large in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby."

  • Up for some leisurely reading? "Gatsby Girls" is a collecion of F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories. (BroadLit, $14.99, 300 pages)

  • Orange County Register file

    The lobby of the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, where revovation was completed in 2007. High life, anyone?

  • Scojo Eyewear

    Scojo Eyewear's deco-inspired reading glasses resonate with "The Great Gatsby."

  • Scojo Eyewear

    Scojo Eyewear's deco-inspired reading glasses resonate with "The Great Gatsby."

  • Kohl's

    Pearls are now a girl's best friend: Even simulated versions, such as this stretch bracelet, allow you to channel your inner Daisy.

  • Farbod Barsum

    What woman out on the town couldn't use a $6,400 alligator-and-ostrich handbag?

'Gatsby' lends its glamour to trips, products

Published: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 8AANDE

Friday's opening of "The Great Gatsby" has shone more attention on 1920s fashions and trends than has been seen since the actual Jazz Age. Or at least since "Downton Abbey" entered the '20s in its most recent season.

Hotel owners, fashion houses and eyewear manufacturers have packaged getaways and products to correspond with the release of the visually showy new film, directed by Baz Luhrmann and adapted from the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as mysterious, party-throwing millionaire Jay Gatsby.

Fitzgerald's tale of obsessive love and excessive revelry during the heady days of economic prosperity (and Prohibition) contains few direct parallels to our unglamorous, economically challenged times.

But the '20s never really went out of fashion, as that hardy Halloween perennial, the flapper costume, and Prohibition-themed upscale Sacramento restaurant-bars such as the Shady Lady and Pour House can attest.

"The landscape of the world changed" in the '20s, said Catherine Martin, who designed the stunning sets and clothes for "Gatsby," directed by her husband, Luhrmann. American women gained the right to vote at the decade's start, and the '20s produced technological advances ranging from the first hand-held blow-dryer to front-wheel drive in automobiles.

Many ideas we consider modern "had their genesis in that point in history," Martin said.

The decade offered style cues that adapt more easily to current fashion needs than say, the 1890s, with their bustles and buns.

"Gatsby," in which the title character amasses a fortune but still yearns for the love he lost, also appeals to audiences as a romantic, glamorous yet cautionary tale, said Saturday Evening Post historian and archivist Jeff Nilsson. The Post, the venerable publication that ran Fitzgerald's short stories before and after "Gatsby" was published, just helped put out a Fitzgerald short-story collection called "Gatsby Girls."

"I think Americans are fascinated with the idea of the American dream," Nilsson said. "They are very moral and high-minded, but very sentimental people. They are realistic enough to know you are going to pay a price to realize your dream."

"Gatsby," set among the big estates of New York's Long Island, also gives readers and filmgoers insight into how the elite live and view the world.

In the 1920s as now, regular people carry "a touch of envy of that 1 percent," Nilsson said. "People think there is that swinging life on the other side of the economic divide. Fitzgerald knew more than anyone that wasn't true."

Here are some products, events and packages with Gatsby ties, some rife with symbolism as well as consumerism. Please enjoy, old sport!

A string of 'Gatsby'

In the new "Gatsby" film, as in the book, mega-rich Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) gives his future wife, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), family pearls worth $350,000. In today's dollars that translates to … someone in Dubai owning them.

Slightly more affordable are Croft and Barrow "simulated pearls" sold at Kohl's department stores. They cost $16.80 on sale (

Through these eyes

Eyewear maker Scojo takes inspiration from the wire rims that frame the giant, all-seeing and creepy eyes on an aged billboard watching over an industrial area between Long Island and New York City that Fitzgerald calls "The Valley of Ashes" in the book.

The fictional billboard, subject of varied interpretations by Fitzgerald scholars over the years, advertises the practice of oculist Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.

Scojo's '20s-syle round-framed reading glasses (the Baxter Street, Hudson Avenue and Sullivan Street styles) start at $72. Reading glasses for $72? That's an enterprising spirit Gatsby would admire.

But he would have sold them at his drugstores, along with the hooch (

Drink, eat and dance

Break out the straw boater hats for the Calaveras Art Council's "Glitter Gatsby Garden Party and Dinner Dance" fundraiser at the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill. The event is June 15, giving prospective contestants in its Gatsby costume contest plenty of time to study the film.

Take a lesson from the well-dressed but sweaty men in "Gatsby": A two-piece suit works better than a three-piece on a hot summer day. Dinner and dance: $85, (209) 754-1774.

Read more Fitzgerald

The short-story collection "Gatsby Girls" offers the first eight stories Fitzgerald wrote for the Saturday Evening Post. All feature independent-minded female characters based in part on the author's bright, liberated (and eventually unhinged) wife, Zelda.

Fitzgerald published 68 stories in the Post. He was paid about $4,000 for each one. That's Gatsby money ($8.99 e-book, $14.99 paperback.

Relax like a swell

Three hotels offer getaways for people with Gatsby-level incomes or just a yen to stay at nice hotels.

San Diego's historic US Grant Hotel ( offers art deco touches and the in-room makings for a Sidecar (a cocktail introduced in 1922 – the year in which "The Great Gatsby" is set) as well as a copy of the novel and a $50 gift certificate to a local hat store. Rooms start at $232.

At New York's Surrey (, suite guests can request custom suit fittings like those enjoyed by Gatsby and his set. Surrey suites are $995. For the fittings, call the concierge: (212) 288-3700.

The Vanderbilt Grace Hotel ( in Newport, R.I. – a wealthy enclave where the 1974 Robert Redford "Great Gatsby" movie was filmed – offers tours of five of Newport's great mansions (including the Breakers, formerly owned by the Vanderbilts) as part of a two-night package starting at $1,110 per couple.

The package includes a sunset sailing outing, a five-course dinner and a champagne breakfast for two each morning.

Maybe "Gatsby" mania is rubbing off, because this one actually sounds like a deal.


Wealth lives, some of it open to tours, on the Gold Coast of New York's Long Island.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.

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