Well, my favorite event of the year came and went and now I have a chance to share it with you! We’ve been attending the Gatsby Summer Afternoon in Oakland, CA for several years now, and even with the heat, I think this was my favorite year so far. The Gatsby is an Art Deco themed (1920’s-early 1940’s) picnic on the grounds of the Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate that is organized by the Art Deco Society of California. To ensure that it feels like you’ve stepped back in time, proper dress and period picnics are required.
This year we had a Casablanca themed picnic. My husband and I thought up our theme on the way home from last year’s Gatsby. It was an easy one for us as we have a house full of inherited things from Morocco that my grandparents picked up when they lived in Spain in the 60’s. We brought some of it (there is much more….) for our picnic and added in some new stuff that fit and things from other countries that my grandparents also collected and that fit in with the theme. As Casablanca is my husband’s favorite film, it was especially fun to create this picnic inspired by the film.
I made a sign to turn our picnic into a casual outdoor version of Rick’s. It appears that the significance was lost on many of the people who walked by our picnic. I imagine that you shouldn’t assume that because someone is dressed in vintage attire, that they also are a fan of classic films.
The centerpieces of our picnic are this vintage engraved copper table and woven rug from Morocco. I made some pillows to accompany it. I also made a cover for a large dog bed that turned it into a floor pillow, but it did not fit in the car, so it sadly got left at home.
Duke the Border Collie dressed up in a bow tie and a vintage fez (also from Morocco) greeted guests. I turned that Moroccan urn into a vase and brought along the Moroccan “snake” basket, which worked really well to store non-period things in.
In front is a Moroccan camel saddle. My grandparents had several of these which they used for side tables. They didn’t just buy this stuff to store it away as they used it in their decor.
The copper chafing dish (it has kabab and rice in it) is also from Morocco as is the coaster, but the wooden plates and serving dishes are from Haiti. As dinner/serveware/pottery wasn’t one of the things that my grandparents picked up in Morocco, I filled in those spots with things that we had that fit in with the theme. The vintage lucite piano in the photo above is a music box that plays “As Time Goes By.” I had discussed my picnic with Loran and she suggested the piano. 🙂 We didn’t bring a miniature Sam though.
You have to have a “Letter of Transit” at a Casablanca themed picnic.
The Moroccan glasses are from World Market. The vintage linens are from Morocco and the silver from Spain. Morocco has a lot of Spanish and French influence, so those things worked in well with the theme.
I brought my pineapple drink server (World Market) and filled it with sangria that I made. I didn’t find sangria listed in my research of foods for our menu, but as it’s Spanish, it works for me. Also, my grandpa would make sangria at every cocktail party that he had, so it always reminds me of him.
Above, you can see a check written by Rick. 🙂
I did a lot of research on the food for our picnic and spent a lot of time making it. I was very close to adding some French pastries (accurate due to the French influence), but I was already tired from all of the work I already did, so those got scrapped. I made everything but the hummus, pita bread and tea. Middle Eastern food is my husband and I’s favorite food, so we really enjoyed eating this.
- Kafta kabab with saffron basmati rice
- Tomato, cucumber and cous cous salad
- Mezza platter (hummus, olives, feta, almonds, lemons, limes)
- Baba ganoush
- Pita bread
- Moroccan mint tea (made by my MIL)
Although our picnic should technically date to 1941, I put it more at 1935 as that is the year of the pattern that I used for my dress. I brought some McCall’s and Delineator’s from my vintage magazine collection, dated August and September 1935. I had considered having us dress in Casablanca inspired looks, but most of the costumes are evening attire which is not appropriate for the Gatsby, and others I just don’t like. Someday, my husband and I should host a Casablanca party and sport some of those clothes. 🙂
Also in our picnic, this black Moroccan hassock (last year I brought the white one), Moroccan copper trays and this vintage Spanish fan that belonged to my grandma. I also brought my vintage 1920’s parasol again (it’s been at every Gatsby I’ve attended), which is in two photos above.
Loran and I planned to have our picnics next to each other. She is a master at table settings and had so many glorious things set up at her nature themed picnic that she planned with her friend Leslie. They both dressed in jodhpurs and awesome boots during the first half of the Gatsby and then changed. Sadly, I did not take any photos (I’m horrible, I know!), but you can see their incredible outfits on Loran’s IG. Mena and her daughter picnicked right next to Loran. The gals (Lauren and Abby) from American Duchess/Royal Vintage Shoes along with Tina (Vines of the West) set up their picnic a couple of picnics away from us. I had a bit of a fangirl moment with them. 🙂
I got to meet Jennifer (The Sewing Room) who sews such wonderful 20’s and 30’s dresses. In the photo above she’s with Loran. Loran is in the fabulous 30’s dress that she changed into later during the picnic. Sadly, I did not take a photo with Loran! I do have one with Jennifer that I will share in my next post.
It was incredibly hot and humid this year at the Gatsby. Because of that, I didn’t walk around very much, nor did I take many photos. It was, however, the loveliest Gatsby that I’ve been to yet due to the company. I got to meet up with several people and chat (yet again, wish I had more photos!). Sadly, there were a few people that I didn’t get to see.
I just loved this vintage aviatrix. Sadly, I didn’t get her name.
This Egyptian themed picnic was my favorite. I just love how they are all dressed to coordinate with their “Temple of Hathor” theme. They look like they could be part of Lord Carnarvon’s crew!
This is my MIL Alana in front of the mansion, in a 30’s dress that she made.
My husband in front of a cool Indian motorbike.
Although we were pretty sad that the judges did not look at our picnic (nor did they walk over and check out Loran’s picnic….), we loved our picnic set up. I worked on the design and set up for a long time as well as sewing things to complete it. It’s always nice to get recognition whether you win a “best picnic” prize or not.
My husband and I have had early entry passes and “large” picnics for the last three years. Next year we are going to take a break from that and just bring a big blanket and picnic baskets and relax. I actually have already decided on my dress for next year, which will be a big undertaking, but will be another dream dress marked off my list when it’s completed. 🙂
This year’s Gatsby dress and the details along with all of the accouterments that I outfitted to go with it will be in my next post. 🙂