Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit at Winterthur

This is a huge post, very photo heavy, but I am going on a trip to visit my mother in law and have a mini reunion with Tim's sisters and brother.  So feel free to revisit this post over the weekend.

Winterthur curated this exhibit themselves and it was very well done.  They tied the life at Downton Abbey to the life at Winterthur, which was the home of Henry Francis du Pont and family.  They talked about the difference between American and British (the American's who visited Britain were too generous in their tipping of servants apparently!).  Mr. du Pont's daughter said that her father didn't like the term 'servant' - he preferred 'help' or 'staff.'  

 This is how the exhibit opens - 7:00am at Downton.  Anna's daytime housemaids uniform (from season one and two), Mr. Carson, and Mrs. Hughes.

 Then from the end of season one the big garden party when they get the news that Britain is at war with Germany.  The start of WW1.  

 Lady Sybil's dress and hat.

 The fabric is so fine and sheer.  The hat is lovely.

 Lady Mary's dress.  You can see her in it behind the Dowager Countess.  She is wearing a different hat than this one, but another photo showed her wearing this dress in a different episode with this hat on.

 I always thought this dress was a blue stripe but it is purple on a cream background.  Tea stained Battenburg Lace collar.

 Purple fabric sewn at the waist and this placard on the skirt front just off to the side is closed with hooks and eyes.

 The bodice is also closed this way and the buttons are decorative.

 They used these beautiful photographs from the show to highlight the costumes.  This is from Baby Sibbie's (Sybil, after her mother) christening.  The ladies are in black, purple, lavender and mauve.  These were acceptable mourning colors, and I believe the mauve and lavender in particular were considered half mourning.  They were still mourning the loss of Sybil, but it was an important occasion with the christening of her daughter, so I think that is why they put them in these colors.

 Cora, The Countess of Grantham dress and hat.  She is second from the right in the photo.

 Lady Mary's dress from the christening.  We remarked at how different the clothes looked without a person wearing them.

 It was also fun to see how the clothes suited the character.  Can you tell that the two coats with big fur collars and cuffs are Martha's?  She is Cora's mother, played by Shirley Maclaine.

 Love this tea stained Battenburg coat for the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet.  It was on netting and had satin cuffs and collar.

 This was a coat worn by Cora, I believe to Edith's wedding.  The photo shown also showed a beautiful hat with a band that matched this gorgeous embroidery, but they didn't have it on display, sadly.

 Edith's wedding gown.  Such a stunning dress, and I don't think we saw any of the details on the show.  The sleeves are part of the underdress, for lack of a better term.  It is different fabric and if you look in the mirror you see that it criss crosses as well.  The over layer is a stunning satin with original and new beading.

 Lady Mary (blue) and a pregnant Lady Sybil's dresses for Lady Edith's wedding.

 They made the blue dress for Lady Mary.

Sybil's dress was inspired from the top which is vintage.  They added the purple underdress and made the skirt to match the top, including embroidery.  So well done!

 This is from the weekend party episode when Mary was either engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle or almost engaged.  There is a difference in the tweeds for a shooting party (which is what he is wearing) and a walking party (which is the wool weight everyone else is wearing.)  I love these, too.  From left to right, Sir Richard's costume, Lady Rosamund (Sir Robert's sister) and Sir Robert, Lord Grantham's suit.

 Sir Richard's boots.

 No wonder he was "too warm."

Isn't Rosamund's suit lovely?

Now it's time for some other sports wear.
 Lady Mary's walking outfit.  Walking was acceptable exercise for ladies.  And Matthew's cricket uniform.

Mary's is the cuter of the two!
 Lovely details on the back of the coat.

 Adorable, sporty hat!

 Kick pleat on both sides of the skirt to make walking easier.

 This is Mrs. Patmore's dress and apron.  There was a film clip playing over and over, of she and Daisy.  It must be first season.

 Daisy's kitchen maid's outfit.  

 This dress is O'Brien's.  Did you know her character's first name was Sarah?  I couldn't have told you that.  Sarah seems like such a charming name, and O'Brien is not, well, charming.

 It's interesting that the lady's maid and valet did not wear uniforms.  Of course, they had to dress nicely, but not out of their "level" so to speak.

 Mr. Bates wore this to polish Lord Grantham's shoes.  The apron protects his best and pants, the vest keeps the shirt clean, the black sleeves protect the white sleeves from getting polish on them.  The valet likely only had a few shirts so keeping them clean was important.

They had a neat section on the ladies dresses for special events and dinner.  Remember when Sybil wore these harem pants to dinner?

 The top was real vintage and the right sleeve of the dress got some tears in it while filming.  You can see it if you look carefully.

 Can you see the cuffs of the pants?

 One of Edith's lovely dresses.  This color is so pretty.

The next three photos are of a Lady Mary dress.

 Stunning beading!

 The trim on this dress is vintage but the dress it was on was in ruins, so the costumers copied the style of the dress, in velvet, and added the trims on it.  Lovely.  This was a dress for Lady Sybil when she was pregnant.

 Up close of the vintage embroidery.

It was very inspiring to a basic sewer like me, to see how they could take different pieces and put them together to make something special.  Like this dress for Cora.
 This panel is vintage embroidery, and they took it and sewed it onto this dress that they made.

 When you look at the bones of this dress is it pretty simple, but the materials make is special.

I loved how you could look at a dress and just KNOW who wore it!
 Lady Violet's dress.

This gown below is stunning.  Again Cora's dress.  Did you realize Cora had such great clothes?  I did not!

 The velvet, the beading, it was all so gorgeous!

This is a Martha dress.  I liked the contrast between Martha and Lady Violet in their clothing.  Lady Violet is tied to tradition but Martha being an American is more up to date in her styling.  This is from this last Christmas special, when Rose is presented to the King and Queen for her coming out.

 This purple is Lady Violet's and the brown velvet is Isobel Crawley's from the same episode.

 If you look closely it looks as if the bodice piece could be changed out, and the lower sleeves as well.  Interesting how clothes today are so disposable, verses making them versatile.

 Isobel also has an up to date style, but subdued.  More of a quiet elegance - she never looks out of place, but she never is in anything that draws attention.

The subtle details on this dress were lovely.

 It looked quite comfortable to wear!

This is beautiful and it was set with the engagement scene playing over and over and the snow on the video screen flowing down.
 The color is true in this first photo.  Elegant, lovely and simple.  The costumers didn't want the dress to take away from the scene when Matthew proposes to Mary.

 The beading was so unexpected.  Small white and colored beads.

 Lady Rose, the cousin, is a very modern girl.
 This is one of her dresses from the Christmas special.  They chose the color because it suits the actress very well.

 Simple lines, again, but amazing detail.

A bit about men's ties.  A suit worn by Matthew.  I loved the extra pocket!  Isn't fashion funny sometimes?  Why have one pocket on the right side when you can have two?

Now to odds and ends.
This is a curling iron and the way they heated it, which looks like a little sterno can!  Must have been kerosene.

A lovely hat.

 Gloves of all kinds….

 A tea set to drool over.  I'll take one please!

 Lovely tea cup.  The red box holds tea.  They had a box just like it, filled with tea.  I don't remember what they called it but we know it as Lapsang Souchong.  Very smokey.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do.  It was so awesome to be there, and I had a hard time not touching the fabrics!  

I'm inspired, how about you?


  1. This is fabulous. I'll be back again to look over more of the details. I love the way they combined vintage pieces with new fabric. The outfits really are suited to the individual personalities shown in the series. The hats are so lovely, too - I wish hats with flowers like these were in style again. Thank you for showing so many of the details. Great job, Deanna. Enjoy your weekend.

  2. It's amazing to realize how each dress was especially made for the show. Thank you for posting this…so interesting!

  3. Oh so much beauty! Gorgeous costumes! Wish I could see all of this with my own eyes! Have a blessed day dear friend, HUGS!

  4. thanks for sharing all these wonderful photos - lovely!

  5. thanks for sharing all these wonderful photos - lovely!

  6. So much to see and I will be returning. Guess that I had never thought of how important it is for the costuming to support the role. Duh! Of course. Love the many beautiful colors, especially that tomato red that so well suits Lady Mary.

  7. I made a comment late last night...and then lost connection and the comment disappeared into the nether world! Arrgh.

    What a wonderful experience this must have been! What a wonderful display!! (I so wish that Bekah could see this...she would love it!) There is really a lot of history to be learned through fashion.

    Oh must have been drooling over all these luscious garments and fabrics and hats!

  8. I really loved this post! The costumes are stunning and the tea set and teacup are so beautiful. What a wonderful opportunity you were given by being able to attend this show.

  9. Wow! Thanks for such a detailed look at the exhibit! I grew up within 30 min of Winterthur and have sinced moved away, and was quite sad to have missed this exhibit! However, I now feel like I got to see it. ;) Thanks!

    I think I mentioned this in my one previous comment, but I enjoy your blog greatly and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is getting to see pictures of the beautiful area I grew up in. ;)

  10. Not sure if my comment posted or not...

    Anyway, what I said was:

    Thanks for posting this. I grew up in SE PA and have since moved away and was disappointed to have missed this exhibit at Winterthur. However, now I feel like I got to see it. Thanks! ;)

    P.S. I always enjoy your blog. One of the big highlights to me too is getting to see the lovely area I grew up in.

  11. I showed this post to Bekah yesterday...and she held my computer captive forever as she lingered over each and every photo! :)

  12. Great blog post. I just drove from New York to visit the exhibit on Friday with my daughter. We are both huge DA fans - listened to the show's soundtrack on the way down in the car!
    I believe the clip of Mrs. Patmore and Daisy is from Season 3. They are talking about the fact that the family is in mourning, and I believe it's Sybill's death they are referring to.
    Thanks for all the great photos.

  13. This would have been a spectacular exhibit to see. Your pics are great. I'm going to have to watch all the episodes of Downton Abbey again. It was a super good series.


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