Your Great Gatsby Wedding!
These days, it seems as if the whole world has come down with a delicious case of Great Gatsby Fever- with the wedding industry front and center, wildly fanning the flames of this stylish epidemic. As a lifetime lover of all things Art Deco (i.e.: instead of the “de rigueur” Gunne Sax of the time, I wore a silk, buttercream dropped-waist, flapper dress to my prom. Some 15+ years later, I was married in a 1930s, floor-length, platinum-colored bias-cut gown that would’ve made Jean Harlow shriek). Needless to say, I’m riding out this current Art Deco revival with a smile on my face and a fox-trot in my step, lucky to be living in Paris- the birthplace of it all. Great Gatsby Wedding
The Art Deco era dates from 1925 when the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was organized in Paris to showcase new ideas in applied arts. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamor, exuberance, and “faith in progress”. As inspiration for a modern wedding, an Art Deco-themed event revives the “joie de vivre” of the original movement. It’s a party that promises elegance and refinery- but with a bit of wild and jazzy “23-skidoo” thrown in at the same time. Shopping in Paris for elements for your Art Deco wedding or special event will give your party a splash of authenticity that will automatically set it apart from all the rest.
DRESSES & ACCESSORIES
Some of the most unique antique and vintage fashion in the world (IMHO) can be found within a 10-block radius at the Marché au Puces (St. Ouen Flea Market) in the north of Paris. If you’re searching for a true showstopper gown for your 1920’s- themed shindig, this is your place. You can find everything from a couture-quality, silk with gold metallic lace evening dress with a fishtail train and silver beading, to a delicate, hand-embroidered, beaded lace tea dress in shops like Chez Sarah (27 rue Lécuyer et 18 rue Jules Vallès) or Falbalas (Marché Dauphine Stand 284/285). For accessories and jewelry, try Au Grenier de Lucie (Marché Vernaison, Allée 1 stand 25 – and be sure to ask owners Heidi or Jason to show you their collection of antique crowns)! Many of these stands have been in les puces for generations, and the owners are extremely knowledgeable about the history, quality and care of antique garments- so bring your language translator app, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Which reminds me of an important point: If you’re looking for a genuine, 1920’s Parisian gown for a wedding or other special occasion, you need to know from the get-go that There Will Be No “Bargains”. If a dress is still intact and suitable to wear after all of this time, assume that it’s a museum-quality piece and anticipate paying for the honor of owning it. That’s not to say you need to break the bank or trash your dreams of a Zelda-inspired bash. The easiest, more budget-friendly solution is to find a modern dress with vintage lines or an antique piece that’s seen a bit of wear and tear and have it re-beaded or re-laced. You can also find stalls selling spools of vintage ribbons and lace as well as drawers of antique glass or pearl buttons at les puces, which can be used to embellish a modern dress to give it that flapper flair.
One thing that you never get tired of doing in Paris is wandering the streets and seeing what finds you. For instance, just a quick 5 minutes from Palais Royale at 8, Rue de la Vrillière in the 1st arrondissement, is the sweet vintage boutique called Fr/jp design and vintage, owned by Nobuko NISHIMURA. Her stock ranges from the 1900’s to the 1980’s- you can find French handmade lace and Art Deco dresses right alongside ‘deadstock “Levi’s” jeans. She also has a cool, eclectic mix of bags, shoes and accessories. Like most vintage shops, pieces are one-offs, so if you see something that you like, you’ve got to pounce. On a recent visit, she had the most delicate off-white, cotton and lace 1930’s dress paired with some sweet white satin, open-toe, sling-back vintage Farragamo’s in the window, The whole look SCREAMED Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde”. Swoon!
If you don’t have the time or the means to invest in an original period piece, there are quite a few contemporary Parisian wedding dress designers who’ve been known to give a nod to the 20s and 30s in their collections. One of my favorite wedding couturiers in Paris is Fanny Liautard (13 Rue Saint-Florentin, 75008). Fanny’s gowns pay homage to the period in silhouette, texture and detailing, while remaining decidedly moderne at the same time. Her gowns are sensual, free, unrestricted and graceful- just like the spirit of les annés folles in Paris.
JEWELERY & GIFTS
Maybe you’ve already found your dream gown and are in Paris to search for the perfect Jazz Age bauble or accessory to spruce it up. Sitting just across the street from the Musée du Louvre on the Place du Palais Royal, the Louvre des Antiquaires (2 Place du Palais Royal 75001) houses 150 galleries specializing in everything from classical antiquities to chic vintage items from the 1960s, all in a stunning 19th-century building.
The bulk of each shop’s stock is displayed in its windows, so you can stroll through the halls at your leisure, without feeling pressured to purchase or move on. Besides spying a VERY nice variety of Art Deco engagement rings, on my last visit there I fell head over heels for a stunning geometric motif diamond and rock crystal bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels, and I’m still trying to figure out how I can justify buying a set of diamond encrusted dress clips that I saw tucked into a shop corner. For your Deco-loving groom, several shops sell restored vintage collectable watches, enameled Art Deco cigarette lighters and ivory-topped walking sticks.
If you’ve been invited to an Art Deco/Great Gatsby era wedding, you’ll also find some fabulous gift ideas at Le Louvre des Antiquaires. The Galerie Tourbillon (1-4 allée Riesener) has an amazing collection of Gallé and Daum vases, as well as quite a few bronze and ivory Chiparus statues.
Back in the roaring 20’s, the only thing that came between a girl and her “corselette” was a spritz of Shalimar. The iconic fragrance was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1921, and was first displayed in its now famous Bacarrat crystal flask at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925. To really embody the essence of the Golden Age of Paris in the 1920’s, a true Gatsby bride must pay a visit to the Maison Guerlain at 68 Champs-Élysées 75008, where she can sample the whole history of extraits de parfum from Guerlain, including other jazz age fragrances still in production like Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit.
What’s a bride without a bouquet? Word has it, spearheaded by the vintage wedding craze, the cascade bouquet is making a comeback. And to that I say, “Get thee to the orchideiste!” Sylvain Georges (4 rue Petits Pères) in the 2nd arrondissement selects only the best of the best from his orchid producers, and offers an exquisite variety and collection in his shop. A voluptuous bouquet of cascading phalaenopsis orchids from Sylvain Georges is the bee’s knees that you need to pull your Parisian Zelda Fitzgerald wedding into place.
In the 1920s, Paris was the center of the artistic universe. Les annees folles- the crazy years! A magical period that’s been immortalized in books, paintings, music and films. Armed with a bit of inspiration and a touch of insider know-how, you can bring an authentic Parisian touch to your Great Gatsby-themed celebration, and create an unforgettable party that’s uniquely you.
For extra “Paris in the 20’s” wedding inspirations, check out my “Montparnasse Magnifique” inspiration board on Pinterest.