Costume Inspiration: F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald

 Fitzgerald's in the South of France in the late 20's

Fitzgerald's in the South of France in the late 20's

The Fitzgerald’s marriage is most certainly referenced in Scott’s masterwork The Great Gatsby. Scott was a Second Lieutenant in the infantry and while attending a country club dance, when he met and fell in love with his future wife Zelda Sayre. Zelda, the daughter of a Alabama Supreme Court Justice and also an inspiring writer like Scott was the firecracker of Alabama society. Scott moved to New York City and eventually lead Zelda to the big city where they eventually married. Before they wed, Scott returned to St. Paul, Minnesota for a brief period to finish his first novel which was a great success and afforded the lifestyle that Zelda was accustomed to. They welcomed their only child a daughter in 1921.

The couple would move to Paris in 1924 with their daughter and became the grand dames of the parisian bohemian scene overnight. Parties, liquor and long evenings out with new amazing friends. Their lifestyle was chopped full with passion for drink, passion to live, passion to party and passion to have a good time. Their marriage was also filled with great passion, which fueled their lows and highs. They were known for their loud and angry martial fights that were often held in public. Their jealousy of one another was probably the root of most of those fights. Over several years in Paris, the origin of their feuding was rumored to be Zelda’s animosity to Scott’s success and later that jealousy even after his death created legendary rumors. For example, she claims Scott used her private diaries as source for several of his novels and short stories.

Some people would be shock to learn that most of their opulent lifestyle was only funded by the sale of Scott’s first novel, This Side of Paradise which was a commercial success and made them celebrities in New York City. Scott’s The Great Gatsby was a commercial flop when it was released in 1925, it would not become the literary success it is today until after his death in 1944. Right after the second world war, America soaked Gatsby up like a sponge because it showered the reader the optimism of times passed. Zelda and Scott’s marriage was all over the place in Paris. Scott was consumed with finishing the first draft of Gatsby while in Paris, while Zelda was out in the lights of Paris almost nightly. Zelda even had affairs with many men, though not physical but extremely emotional. 

Later in life Diana Mitford wrote a biography about her close friend Zelda titled, Zelda, A Biography. In it Mitford seemed to come to Zelda’s defense on some rumors, like her emotional instability and her promiscuousness. She even cemented the stories Zelda’s great distaste for her husbands new found friend in Paris, Ernest Hemingway. The other side of that story, Hemingway was very vocal to not only F. Scott but to many friends, that Zelda was crazy. The Fitzgerald’s owe a lot to Hemingway’s, they introduced them to a lot of the famous expats in Paris and around Europe during the 20’s. Through the Hemingway’s their social circle widen to include Gertrude Stein, the Murphy’s and Picasso. 

 Zelda Fitzgerald's Self-Portrait

Zelda Fitzgerald's Self-Portrait

The Fitzgerald’s torrid marriage continued on till the bitter end. At one point Zelda was spreading rumors that F. Scott was a homosexual because their lack of physical contact in their relationship. She even went as far to brag that her husband and Hemingway were lovers. Scott grew tired of the constantly being called a fairy by his wife, the same went for Hemingway. The story goes she called Hemingway a fairy from the first day she was introduced to him, no evidence to date shows either Scott or Hemingway were gay. Now Zelda on the other hand, had a few same-sex rendezvous of her own throughout her life. Sadly Zelda was dealing with clinical depression for most of her life. In the last 20 years of her life it grew worse and worse as the years passed and Zelda was institutionalized several times. Sadly the Fitzgerald’s both died before their prime. Scott was only 44 and Zelda when she was 47.