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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch and The Great Gatsby – Part One: Swingin' New York...

New York City, 1922, as brought to life in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).
Image used for illustrative purposes only.  |  (image source)



NEW YORK, 1922.
THE BUILDINGS WERE HIGHER.
THE PARTIES WERE BIGGER...
THE RESTELESSNESS APROACHED HYSTERIA.



...So croons American actor Tobey Maguire as the narrator, character Nick Carraway, of Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s epic 3D extravaganza, The Great Gatsby. Based on the 1925 Great American Novel by author F. Scott Fitzgerald, the explosive tale takes place in the Summer of 1922 in the environs of New York City and its stoked denizens’ haunts...

The decade of the 1920s is memorably recalled as the extravagant “Roaring Twenties” and as the “Jazz Age” – a term coined by Fitzgerald himself. (In French, it was known as les années folles, “the crazy years”). Jazz, revolutionary music of vibrant African-American origins, was all the rage and sweeping the world, old sport! Being sexy and fun bloomed in unprecedented attitude, among the youthful, as social restraints loosened and the age “generation gap” became obviously pronounced for the first time in society – were you in your 20s and 30s in the 1920s, then your parents would have been youths of the Victorian era. “None of the Victorian mothers – and most of them were Victorian – had any idea how casually their [grown children] were accustomed to being kissed,” wrote Fitzgerald in This Side of Paradise (1920). The Roaring Twenties were the post-World War I period of avant-garde zest: unparalleled prosperity rising of primary economies around the world; New York City becoming the most populated city on the planet, overtaking London, and buildings going up to heights unlike never before; swingin’ cool music and dance, roaring cars, the flourishing of radio and film; sweeping prevalence of electric goods; the rise of “celebrities” (a fascination of Fitzgerald’s); and the flapper-chic girls and hot guys (“sheiks”) making ‘em peppy parties the bee’s knees! Good times...good ole times!

The incredible Roaring Twenties were to be the final period of the historic Ezra Fitch at the helm of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. By the Jazz Age, Abercrombie & Fitch was epic as arguably the world’s grandest sporting goods store. Situated inside its historic location on Madison Avenue, on the corner of Madison and East 47th Street, Abercrombie & Fitch, with its established reputation, had come to even outfit our great American President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (who wasn’t in office by the ‘20s) for his African safari. (Many others of history’s great figures would pass as clients of A&F in subsequent years: Amelia Earhart, Earnest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen and Admiral Richard Byrd, and the "Duke of Wellington"). Every American President after Teddy, and up to Gerald Ford, is said to have been outfitted by A&F in some manner, and this would, thus, perhaps include President Harding who was incumbent in 1922 by the time-setting of Gatsby. Also memorably of the decade, New York had thrown a “most jubilant parade for Charles Lindbergh, the shy young pilot who, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, had seemingly nothing to do with his generation except allowing us to dream once more of our greatest possibilities.” Abercrombie & Fitch outfitted Lindberg for his historic transatlantic flight, from New York to Paris nonstop, which took off in the morning of 20 May 1927 and concluded famously the following day. It was under Ezra during the 1920s that Abercrombie & Fitch also historically introduced the Chinese game of Mahjong (麻將) in the United States, and becoming the center of the nation’s craze; it became the place in New York to “thumb one’s nose” at Prohibition laws in America (a national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol; though not illegal in private ownership and consumption of it) by buying a stylish flask; and it opened its first Summer-only location in Hyannis, Massachusetts, for yachting! Incidentally, as history would have it, Ezra retired from Abercrombie & Fitch in 1928 months before the onset of economic collapse, the Great Depression, and the end of the exuberant Jazz Age party that was New York and the world.

Take a look at New York City as it would have been like during the time of Ezra Fitch’s Abercrombie & Fitch and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (though you can see much more of it in awe-inspiring, epic 3D by going to the movies, and partying with Gatsby, with your friends!)...






























NEW YORK CITY,
TAKE A BITE
AND SUBWAY DOWN TO
DANCE ALL NIGHT! ”






Stay peppy FIERCE, old sport!

Images in this post are low-res screenshots, of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, used for illustrative purposes only. Images © Warner Bros. Written content © The Sitch on Fitch. Plagiarism prohibited.