Downton Abbey’s Costumes-Dress like an Edwardian?


Downton Abbey‘s Costume Designer Susannah Buxton has been rightfully described as a “sculptress-in-cloth.”.She managed to portray the antithesis pre (1912 until 1914)-and post war by using dazzling Edwardian frocks combined with corsets and uber chic elbow-length gloves-all for the aristocratic Crawley family.Their many maids had simpler dresses and aprons yet no less carefully made. During the second season,were World War I bursts and subsequently ends in 1918,she had a more difficult task-to demonstrated how the upper classes made austerity look elegant due to lack of materials.

Having fully understood her role as part of a team,Susannah Buxton notes in Time magazine: ”Costumes are not always designed to be seen. They’re designed sometimes to be a complete part of that character, so you’re accepting what they’re wearing without thinking. I don’t want everyone looking at the frock. That’s the hardest thing. Some of the costumes I’m most proud of are the ones you wouldn’t necessarily think about because the clothes naturally belong to the character. They don’t look like actors in costumes. They look like real people.”

And,discussing color supplements between the main characters’ roles she shows that she faces her work as a balanced painting by saying: “Most of the time you’ ve got at least five upper class women on the set as characters. There is a lot that could go wrong. If Lady Mary is in a deep red, I have to be careful not to put beige next to that. I want the colors to compliment. The most scary thing that I can remember is that I designed a harem dress — with Turkish trousers — for Lady Sybil. That was considered very shocking at the time because no women wore trousers then. I used a panel of embroidery for the bodice that was very old and very beautiful. She came down for the first scene and after the third take the whole panel started to split at the back. Fortunately we did have another piece of it, but watching a dress part from itself in front of your eyes on camera is pretty scary. People’s heels are always going through the back of their evening dresses. You hear a rending sound and think “Oh no.”When asked about her favorite fashion designer she says: Madeleine Vionnet(at least one of Mary’s frocks in Season Three—a red, sleeveless evening dress—being a copy of a Vionnet design.) Now that makes sense,the influence is obvious.

Downton Abbey has influenced fashion much,there’s no doubt about it.Vogue recently featured the actresses who play Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lady Sybil in a photo spread called “Edwardian Inspiration,” On top of all that,Anna Wintour has said she is a fan of Buxton’s work.Well,we all are.

Madeleine Vionnet design
Madeleine Vionnet design


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