Five fashion facts about the new Downton Abbey movie
The Crawley family is back on screen “Downton Abbey: A New Era” Wednesday off.
And along with the film’s romance and drama come some stunning late 1920s fashions.
Anna Robbins, who has designed the cast’s costumes since the television series, returned for A New Era to dress the Dowager Countess, Lady Mary, Tom Branson and other well-known favorites in a range of lavish period attire.
We first met the residents of Downton Abbey in 1912, with the characters’ wardrobes changing over the years up to the 1920’s.
Now that the second strip is set in the early 1930s, the Crawleys and their collaborators are in for some major style changes.
From a Vogue-inspired wedding dress to that first-ever “Downton” swimsuit moment, we share some of our favorite behind-the-set fashion facts below.
Edith wears trousers for the first time
Though Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) was famous for a harem-style pant outfit on the TV series, pants weren’t part of the Crawley ladies’ wardrobe…until now.
As the 1930s approached, many modern women like Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) started wearing trousers. Robbins was thrilled to find just the right look for her style reveal, which she called “the perfect moment.” in hello! magazine‘s May 2 print edition.
“I found a beautiful pajama set for Edith and we had her in pants for the first time, which was lovely,” said the costumer.
Robbins too shared with Digital Spy that the vintage kimono jacket that Edith wears with her cream wide-leg trousers inspired the outfit.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew I could pair it with pants and emphasize that fashion point that she’s taking on an incredible new look,” she said.
A Downton character finally dons a swimsuit
Although we’ve seen some beach scenes from Downton Abbey in the past — like the heartwarming moment when Mrs. Hughes and Carson wade into the ocean holding hands — we’ve actually never seen either character in a bathing suit.
In A New Era, the cast heads to the south of France for a summer vacation when the Dowager Countess (played by Dame Maggie Smith) inherits a Mediterranean estate – and that means bathing suits and sportswear.
“Tom goes swimming in the Mediterranean with Lucy in an all-in-one,” Robbins said VogueUK of the franchise’s first swimsuit appearance.
According to the costume designer, the characters are also sporting some cheeky tennis looks.
“Sportswear exploded in the ’30s,” she said, adding, “You see Edith and Bertie, Lucy and Tom playing doubles together and I found original pieces in a rich shade of cream for the girls to wear to the game – a wonderful contrast to the green of the lawn of the villa.”
There is a Vogue-worthy wedding dress
After tragically losing his wife, Lady Sybil, Tom Branson (played by Allen Leech) finally found love again with Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton) in the first Downton Abbey film.
In A New Era, the new couple walks down the aisle and it turns out their beautiful wedding dress was inspired by shiny vintage fashion.
“When it came to designing Lucy’s wedding dress, I found a photo in a 1920s issue of Vogue that I replicated almost exactly,” Robbins told Vogue UK.
Featuring sheer three-quarter sleeves, a boat neckline, and silver threads embroidered in a floral design over a satin bodice, the dropped-waisted dress would have been an extremely fashionable look for the time.
“I wanted to make it feel like Lucy could lift her skirt and dance,” Robbins told Hello!
Although Lucy’s dress was made for her more fun-loving character, Robbins told Vogue UK that the new Mrs Branson’s vintage veil – topped with a pearl and diamond tiara – was “more sophisticated than any other”.
Hollywood style arrives in Downton
Moviegoers are treated to some “palatial, expensive designs” when the cast of a silent film arrive to film at the Downton Abbey estate, and Robbins told Vogue UK that her wardrobe was inspired by old Hollywood glamour.
“Myrna is inspired by the likes of Clara Bow and Louise Brooks, but I also looked at the wardrobes of Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson and Lillian Gish when sourcing pieces for them,” she said, adding that fans have been looking for “fur stoles.” “ Be on the lookout for art deco jewelry.”
Laura Haddock, who plays silent film diva Myrna Dalgleish, said Radio Times that she did her own research on the stars of the era, adding, “Norma Talmadge was one I really became obsessed with.”
The movie stars’ Hollywood styles are quite a contrast to the outfits worn by their Downton counterparts, Robbins said, and she sourced some authentic pieces from the period, including a special pair of shoes for Myrna that needed to be restored.
Chanel’s influence is everywhere
When the Crawleys travel to France, you’ll see their wardrobe shift from the bolder colors and heavier fabrics of an elegant English estate to lighter, holiday-ready outfits.
“I studied a lot of photographs of Chanel in the south of France while designing the Crawleys’ slightly more relaxed holiday wardrobe,” Robbins told Vogue UK, adding that “Edith in particular taps into some of the bolder styles that were growing in popularity.”
Alongside trousers and athletic looks, expect shorter hems and the reintroduction of a more defined waist as the characters head off into the 1930s – and soak up the Mediterranean sun.
“I’m always on the lookout for authentic, original vintage pieces to incorporate into costume, and the trip to France opened up a whole new set of pieces that would feel out of place in Downton but fit the French Riviera perfectly ‘ Robbins shared in Hello!
Downton Abbey: A New Era is in theaters now.