Fans of British smash-hit drama Downton Abbey may have noticed that the lavish costumes, gem-encrusted headdresses, bandeaux and tiaras glinted with extra allure this season…

TREND REPORT Downton Abbey

Stellar period drama lights up the small screen

Set in the super-stylish dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Downton Abbey has captured viewers’ imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic—not just for its complex tales of family intrigue, but also for its delectable flapper-girl fashions. Come to think of it, the last time we got this excited about costume decadence was back in the Seventies when The Great Gatsby hit the big screen.



The pressure was truly on for costume designers Caroline McCall and Jane Law: just one high-society wedding to dress brings on a headache, but two in the same series makes that look like a stroll in the park. Brides Lady Mary and Lady Edith needed vintage va-va-voom for their big days, so for Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, McCall designed the most expensive Downton Abbey costume ever made, coming in at around £4,000 (€4,647). The elegant, long-sleeved silk gown was layered with a delicate ivory lace tabard edged in tiny freshwater pearls and sprinkled with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, used by the designer to bathe the bride in a soft, shimmering light.

Lady Edith, played by Laura Carmichael, wore a draped, soft satin Grecian-style gown with an antique wedding train featuring intricate silver embroidery and lustrous crystals. “We carried through the details from the train onto the dress using appliqué, embroidery and crystals,” McCall explains.

Not to be left out, Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine, grandes dames of the acting world, also glittered and glistened. Their gowns featured intricate beadwork accompanied by eye-catching accessories lavishly decorated with crystals.

All in all, dressing the third series’ impossibly glamorous vintage costumes took some 78,000 SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. At that rate, we say roll on series four!

Pictures: Copyright Carnival Film & Television Limited

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