The flower scene in The Great Gatsby is my favorite, both in the novel and the movie, although the later far surpassed my limited imagination in high school English class. The scene is set for Gatsby to reunite with his beloved Daisy and no luxurious detail is spared.
"The flowers were unnecessary, for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it. An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in. He was pale, and there were dark signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes."
"We chose to put a ludicrous number of flowers, particularly orchids, because that would've required hothouses and would represent Gatsby's extraordinary wealth." production designer Martin said.
What was the inspiration for those outrageous floral sprays in Gatsby's house?
I looked at interiors done by Elsie de Wolfe, but the main influence was Constance Spry, probably the most famous florist in London in the 1930s and a favorite of the duchess of Windsor. For her time, she was extremely wild and surrealist, adding cabbage leaves and unexpected country garden things to arrangements. We chose to put a ludicrous number of flowers, particularly orchids, because that would’ve required hothouses and would represent Gatsby's extraordinary wealth. Constance Spry was one of the first people to put flowers in urns and ceramic swans and other unusual containers, but her arrangements tended to be a little less full. I chose to override her style a little bit and fill the arrangements out. The modern eye wouldn’t understand such a deliberate period look.
I worked with Karman Grech, who has original wallpaper sample books from the 1920s and had a floral with lots of red and pink reproduced. In the Fitzgerald book it says the couch is upholstered in something that looked like the 18th century painting of a girl in a swing by Fragonard. So we had that digitally printed onto the upholstery fabric.
I was hard pressed to find out if they were silk orchids or fresh until I came across this article pointing to an all artificial orchid scene. This explains their particularly perfect appearance, not one bruise or brown blotch in sight! What a visually stunning movie.
I put together examples of some of the orchids used:
Photo credits warner brothers and lucky magazine.