Behind the Scenes with FIT Alumna Tae Smith

Faces & Places in Fashion Lecture Series


Tae Smith, Costume & Production Design Researcher on The Great Gatsby

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As part of FIT’s Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series, we were pleased to welcome FIT alumna Tae Smith (MA, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice), who served as Costume & Production Design Researcher on the feature film The Great Gatsby. Alumni, students and friends of FIT enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at Smith’s work bringing literary characters and scenes to life and working closely with Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann.

Smith discussed the intersection of fashion, history, literature and film, and some of the challenges that arose in the research process. She encountered dualities between historical fact versus fictional writing, aesthetic vision versus artifacts of the time period, 1920s fashions versus interpretation of characters’ styles. The filmmakers raised questions such as Can we put a phone on a pedestal in Buchanan’s hallway? What did a room at The Plaza look like in 1922? Which hat is more historically accurate? Can we find an example of this contemporary shoe in the 1920s? Smith supplied the answers to questions in 1-2 page “cheat sheets” for the production and costume designers. She relied heavily on excerpts from the book and also credited invaluable resources like the Cooper Hewitt Library, New York Historical Society, and our very own Special Collections & FIT Archives.

The end product was a beautiful, visually captivating film, composed of so many details in which Tae’s research played an important role. Not long after Smith’s talk, we were thrilled to learn that the The Great Gatsby film won the Oscar for Best Production Design! Watch the video of Tae Smith’s talk here:

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Take a look at photos from the talk and reception by clicking here. For more information about upcoming Faces & Places in Fashion talks, click here.

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