Beads, beads, beads...

Beads, beads, beads...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Downton Abbey in Person

Yesterday was a fairy tale kind of day.  I enjoyed the day with two friends at the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. We viewed the Downton Abbey costume display and also toured the 5th and 6th floor of the museum.

 Our journey started with a discussion of the Downton Abbey show a few weeks ago.  We all had gotten the DA bug just in the past year.  We have not seen all of the seasons yet but have seen enough to fall in love with the show.  What is it about the show?  They are taking a survey at the DA exhibit as to what is it that intrigues you about the show?  The history?  The costumes?  The plot?

The exhibit was well presented as is everything at Winterthur.  The staff and accommodations are incredible.  Everyone was very welcoming and knowledgeable about what they are presenting.  They have trams and shuttles to take you from the Visitors Center to the Museum and offer cafes and cafeterias in both locations.  I want to go back again to see the gardens when in bloom and the other exhibits. 

Back to Downton Abbey.  The costumes are made from period fabrics when possible and have a tremendous amount of handwork on them.   My favorite costume from the shows that I have watched is in the following picture.  Not my favorite because of its beauty but because of the sassiness of Sybil when she first wore it! You can see a clip of her in the background.

I can't decide on a favorite of the other costumes because they all have an amazing story and lots of creative handwork behind them.  I was surprised at the gauziness of the fabric that had beads sewn to it.  It is amazing that the beads stayed on the dresses. We use Nicoles Beadbacking  or  Lacys Stiff Stuff to keep our beads high and tight!  These dresses our made with wisps of fabric.  It would seem to be difficult to do the beading on them.  Yes that is all beads decorating this dress! 
The backs of the dresses are as decorated as the fronts of the dresses. 
The costume designers have 7 weeks to complete all of the costumes for each season.  They use some vintage fabrics and add to or design with them to create the fabulous dresses that are worn on this show.  I was very surprised at the authenticity they use.  When you view the show on TV you don't realized the detailed beading and embroidery that is part of these dresses.  Even the Housekeepers dress!
The chains hanging from the clip on her waist have skeleton keys on them.  The "V" in the bodice is embroidered and trimmed with lace.
In today's world I can get beads on the internet.  There are some options at the major arts and craft stores but anything unusual can only be found online or at a local bead store if you still have one in your area.  My question is where did their beads and fabrics come from?  How much time did it take to make one dress?  By the way, they were expected to change 4 times a day.  Ha!  We decided we may have 4 different colors of sweatpants but really... who wants to do all of that laundry. Of course most of us don't have a staff to wait on us so they didn't concern themselves with the care of things.  It is understandable that tussie-mussies were a necessity.  How could you launder these dresses?
They also had the men's costumes.  Many of them don't look much different from what is worn today.  Functional and tailored.  I did learn what a "club tie" is.  Have you heard of them?
A gift shop is open near the exhibit with teas, cookbooks, hats, jewelry, velvet shawls and lace coats!
If you are in the Wilmington, Delaware area I would encourage you to go to Winterthur.  The Downton Abbey exhibit will be there until January of 2015.  The tickets are a reasonable price and the walk back in time is enchanting!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful outing! I've been a huge fan since the start, I think mainly because of the writing. I hope you do get to go back here when the gardens are blooming.


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