With temperatures dropping and snowflakes on the ground, it’s really beginning to feel like holiday season here in New York. There is nothing quite like a beautifully decorated tree to capture the joy of the season, and none more so than the Plaza Hotel’s recently unveiled Great Gatsby Holiday Tree. The tree, which is installed in the hotel’s Fifth Avenue foyer, is a masterpiece of cinematic proportions; grazing the vaulted ceilings, it weighs in at some 900 pounds with its decorations.
For those wondering at the connection between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby and the famed hotel, the link goes back to the time when the author was writing the novel. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were in residence at the hotel, the author taking his signature tea in the afternoons (the secret ingredient: a hefty dollop of Hendricks gin) and penning the classic novel, when he chose a Plaza suite as the backdrop for one of the book’s most climactic scenes.
More recently, when director Baz Luhrmann set out to film the blowup scene between Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and Tom Buchanan (played by Tobey Maguire) for his highly-anticipated new remake, he called upon the Plaza for help. Luhrmann’s wife, the Academy Award-winning costume and set designer Catherine Martin, was given exclusive access to the hotel’s archive of historic images to build a replica of the suite on the film’s Australian set. Although we don’t want to give away too many details for those who haven’t yet read the novel, the glamor of the Plaza’s suite is the perfect backdrop for the infamously tense scene.
With the holiday season approaching, Martin and the Plaza team began work on another collaboration; the Great Gatsby Holiday Tree. Together they worked with Restoration Hardware to conceptualize an homage to this Great American novel and New York’s most beloved hotel. The 18-foot tree exudes the glamor of the Roaring 20’s, with over 100 pounds of glass, gold and silver ornaments. While trees of that era frequently featured moving train sets at their feet, Martin incorporated the mechanical theme with a stunning mobile of floating snowflakes which elegantly circle the tree.
Martin, who attended the unveiling with both her parents and children, said; “The Plaza was the ultimate glamorous hotel destination of the social world in the 1920s and held a special place in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s hearts. I’m honored to have been asked to design such an iconic holiday tree and look forward to future collaborations with The Plaza and paying tribute to the history of this landmark New York hotel and its role in “The Great Gatsby.””
Although the film will not be released until next year (it hits theaters in May 2013), fans can take in the splendor of the Jazz Age now at the Plaza. We highly recommend setting aside an afternoon to enjoy the “Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages” at The Palm Court before taking in the beauty of the Great Gatsby Holiday Tree.
The Plaza Hotel is located at 768 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019. For reservations at The Palm Court and more information, call (212) 759-3000 or visit their website. Photo courtesy the BFA.