Catherine Martin, who has won two Academy Awards for Costume Design and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration on the French-themed musical Moulin Rouge in 2001, has two noms for one movie again this year: The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann. The Warner Bros remake based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel garnered Martin nominations for Costumes and Production Design. As with Moulin Rouge, Martin’s sets in The Great Gatsby were wondrously extravagant. The set decorator nominated with Martin is Beverley Dunn. Simply put, the production design was (in combination with the special effects team) colorful, intricate 1920s eye candy. Martin recently won an Art Directors Guild Award for her work on the film.
To design Jay Gatsby’s world, Martin says, she followed her husband Luhrmann’s lead. “He wanted to create Fitzgerald’s New York as creative and exciting as it was for Fitzgerald. He wanted it immediate and how it would feel for him.” The Times Square of 1920, for instance, of the Luhrmann/Martin vision became an exciting, colorful, crowded, roaring party as were the actual parties of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). In one of the pool scenes, an inflatable zebra is seen in the pool, which had people questioning the historical accuracy. In the book, Fitzgerald writes specifically about an air mattress he describes as a “pneumatic mattress,” but as Martin explains, “I researched inflatable pool toys to see what shapes existed and how they were made. When we put the first trailer out, you see girls cavorting with inflatable zebras and that came directly from research. Inflatables had been around since the late 19th century. The Macy’s parade started in the 1920s. What I enjoy about production design is that you are able like a detective you are able to discover and challenge your perceptions.”