Art Deco Society parties Gatsby-style

Eden Garcia Thaler
Contributing Writer

From left to right: Angie Schmitt, Jessica Schmitt and Jennifer Bade donned 1920s attire for the Gatsby Afternoon Picnic. photo Courtesy of Jennifer Bade.

On a breezy Richmond Sunday, sharply dressed men and women filed out of a line of vintage automobiles, with picnic baskets in tow, while swing music filled the air.

For a moment, the lawn of the Wilton House Museum was brought back in time for the third-annual Gatsby Afternoon Picnic.

The Art Deco Society of Virginia organized the Sept. 7 picnic, bringing Richmonders back to a carefree and fun-loving time in American history. Art Deco refers to the 1920s-era innovations in art, style, architecture and more. The non-profit organization for which the movement is named after has shared, celebrated and preserved Art Deco history in the Commonwealth for nearly three years.

The Gatsby Afternoon Picnic was the society’s first event and has since become an annual party.

“Art Deco was an all-encompassing movement,” said Olivia Lloyd, president and founder of the Art Deco Society of Virginia. “What we do is we educate people on that and make people aware of that as it pertains to the Commonwealth of Virginia.” 

Lloyd started the non-profit organization after meeting others who shared her interest in Art Deco. The society’s original Gatsby Picnic exceeded their expectations. What the founders thought would be a small gathering at Forest Hill Park ended up causing traffic jams as people made their way to the picnic. 

The organization has continued to grow since then, with this year’s Gatsby Picnic including a big band, a dance floor and 1920s belly dancing, croquet, badminton, vintage fashion and vintage vendors. 

The picnic and all of the Art Deco events, most of which are free, are completely open to the public.

Saturday Sept. 6, the organization offered a walking tour of Richmond, which explored local architectural landmarks and their history. 

People lounged 1920s style at the Wilton House Museum for the third-annual Gatsby Afternoon Picnic. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bade

In October, the organization will host a party surrounding the release of a 1920s murder mystery novel at the Library of Virginia. The party will be free and open to the public and will include silent film showings, a cocktail reception and Charleston dance lesson.

This November, Art Deco will have their “Tweed Ride,” a bike ride through Richmond where riders will wear tweed clothing.

“Our events, like the time frame (the 1920s primarily), are about having a good time, frivolity and fun, and kicking up your heels and dancing and not having a care in the world,” Lloyd said.

The Art Deco Society orchestrates a number of events in Richmond every month for those who share an appreciation for the Art Deco period. 

For more information on the Art Deco Society of Virginia’s upcoming events, check out their website:

1 Comment

  1. It sounds like it was a wonderful two days of events. For you Decophiles living in the Richmond, VA area, please consider joining the Art Deco Society of Virginia, attending their events, and supporting their preservation efforts. Harriet and Bob, Things Deco

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