Gaiety to the Gait: Charles LeMaire’s Follies & Gatsby in the Details
Although of late there have been ample assessments of current trends as Gatsbyesque, such verdicts—perhaps unanimously courting the “single green light, minute and faraway”—but skim the surface of broader stirrings in the wings. Lofty Beauty, and its companion, Social Nicety, are tiptoeing to the fore of the vanguard. Hints of muted extravagance and refined savoir faire are very much the dernier cri in design and literature, as well as in personal habits and social milieus.
Although I do not wish to “beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” indulge me to venture a solitary alternative antecedent in the realm of design and fashion, after which let us dash it all and call the now novel, or at least hope that it is.
Consider the following illustrations created by the American Costume Designer Charles LeMaire (1897–1985). LeMaire started his career making costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies, then later he dove into film. Though largely consigned to oblivion, allusions to his elaborate oeuvre of trimmings and trifles are reappearing in newly minted design and fashion collections this season.
Nevertheless, in light of all the recent fuss heralding Gatsby in the details, so to speak, do let’s yet go ahead and believe “in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us”.