Friday, August 20, 2010

Personal Style Icon: Zelda Fitzgerald, The First Flapper



(July 24, 1900 - March 10, 1948)

Behind every great man is a great woman, so they say, and in the case of the Fitzgeralds, the Jazz Age's official enfants terribles, this old saying couldn't ring more true.

From the moment F. Scott Fitzgerald saw her at a dance in Montgomery, Alabama, 18-year-old Zelda Sayre became the richest source of inspiration for his writing. Zelda's rebellious antics spat in the face of all that was expected of a young Southern debutante at the time, and she got away with all of it because her daddy was a Supreme Court justice. She smoked, she drank, she flirted and her devilish brazenness instantly enraptured Fitzgerald. Zelda tortured him for two years before finally agreeing to marry the lovesick young chap (but only after his acclaimed first novel This Side of Paradise was published).


The young newlyweds soon became one of New York City's elite "It" couples and their frequent booze-fueled binges were top tabloid fodder. The grade "A" badasses regularly got kicked out of some of the most prestigious New York establishments for public drunkenness and naughty shenanigans.


In 1921, Zelda gave birth to Frances "Scottie," their only daughter. Allegedly, the couple chose to abort a second child a year later. Zelda was far from the maternally domesticated housewife that was the norm of the era and instead gleefully stepped forward as the unofficial flappers' ambassador. She reveled in her own infamy, but never could step out of Scott's shadow. This fact secretly perturbed her to no end.


Zelda wanted her own spotlight and tried numerous artistic outlets to get it, including writing and dancing. When the couple moved to the French Riviera in 1924, all of Scott's efforts went into the completion of The Great Gatsby, and out of boredom, Zelda had a fling with pilot Edouard Jozan (who later denied an affair ever happened).


A tragic descent into self-destruction soon eviscerated the Fitzgeralds' relationship. Scott's raging alcoholism sent Zelda's depression spiraling into all-encompassing, schizophrenic state. Her prolonged stay at a sanitarium allowed Scott to have a whirlwind affair with a Hollywood columnist.



An eventual attempt at a reconciliation between Scott and Zelda proved futile and the couple's tumultuous relationship came to a crashing end. Scott returned to Hollywood and his affair; Zelda went back to the hospital. They kept in touch, but their glittering dreams of fame and fortune remained distant Jazz Age memories. The Fitzgeralds were washed up, D-listed and broke.

In 1940, a 44-year-old Scott died of a heart attack; the years of alcoholism had wreaked irreparable havoc on his body. Zelda died in 1948 when the sanitarium she lived in burned to the ground. Both thought of their lives as failures, since neither lived long enough to see the incredible impact they had on literature and fashion.


Zelda's Style Signatures

In the 1920s, when women were still delicate, corseted and buttoned up, Zelda's breezy flapper style was considered extremely risqué. Loose, ankle-revealing dresses, bobbed hair, ropes of rhinestones, cigarette in mouth and a sidecar in hand, Zelda was the quintessential Jazz Age baby. Here are a couple of things you would see hanging in her wardrobe:

1. A stylish hat like Eugenia Kim's coral "Panama" cloche ($270) was the perfect topper to any casual ensemble.

2. On-trend lace ups like Report Signature's Tyler studded oxford flats ($185) were the flapper's go-to walking shoes.

3. Drop waist dresses were all the rage in the Roaring Twenties. J.Crew's crinkled chiffon surf blossom dress ($240) would have suited Zelda's sporty side, while Sue Wong's gray beaded dress ($408) would be perfect for a night on the town.

4. Rarely would Zelda leave her home without an intricate, beaded piece of jewelry like Francesca's Azteca bib necklace ($24).

5. Patent Mary Janes like Söfft's "Ferre" pumps ($109.95) were a perennial flapper favorite for dancing the Charleston.

6. A sparkly headpiece like Roark's beaded chiffon headband ($125) likely graced Zelda's head for many upscale evening events.

7. Zelda never left the house without her fur! This 1920's vintage deco fur coat ($299) could have easily graced the shoulders of a flapper during the Jazz Age.

Want more Zelda?

Read

Zelda's Wikipedia article


Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise
by F. Scott Fitzgerald (main character based off Zelda)




29 comments:

  1. Great post! I've always loved the flapper look - it's so glam and timeless.

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  2. Love her! Is this a series? You should do a 50s-60s icon next since you would prob find a lot of inspiration from the fall trends!

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  3. I love the flapper look! You've given me a lot of ideas!

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  4. Love the post! And the saddest part about Zelda's death is that the fire at the asylum where she stayed wasn't even serious. I used to go to school down the street from it and it was still standing. During the fire everyone was successfully evacuated bar 2 or 3 victims. One of them was Zelda. However F. Scott Fitzgerald was buried near her. His grave is in the nearest church to the sanitarium.

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  5. Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for the additional info!

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  6. Have you read "Zelda"...fascinating book. Highly recommend it!

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  7. I heard about that one, but I haven't read it yet. Will have to do so!

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  8. I just ordered it actually! Inspired by your post to be honest. And by the fact that the building that used to be her asylum is making way for a new development. Has made way for a new development really.

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  9. Loved your Links a la Mode on IFB
    Love your blog , lets become fashionable blogger friends , lets follow each other.

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  10. Zelda Fitzgerald was the Paris Hilton of her day.

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  11. Zelda Fitzgerald is really beautiful. She's a very stunning fashionista. Zelda's style signatures is amazing, too. I'm planning to post a blog about her in my style icons of today soon.

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  12. Zelda’s non conformist attitude is what I find most appealing; she was born in the wrong decade and it is very sad she was not able to focus all her energy in the right direction.

    xx
    MarielsCastle

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  13. Thanks for your comment! I love, love, love that midriff look. It's like a trendy 90s revival.

    www.stylocrat.blogspot.com

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