Slideshow: Secrets of the Catwalk
Wowed by the stunning looks parading down the catwalk in
Downton Abbey fashion show? Even Lady Mary couldn't help but exclaim, "Yummy!" Now, learn secrets from the making of the fashion show with Downton Abbey's Costume Designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins, who took a break from her busy schedule working on Downton Abbey Season 6 to talk to MASTERPIECE about creating the dazzling, cutting-edge looks of 1924.
"At the beginning, my thoughts were to strip back the palette to silver and black and white to keep it monochromatic, which works beautifully against the yellow walls and the beautiful skylights. I wanted to make a stark contrast between the new, emerging fashions of the twenties walking up and down the catwalk and the women watching."
"I wanted to focus on the emerging, strong, cutting edge looks straight out of the lookbooks of 1924. I went straight to the fashion illustration plates and designers of the time and picked looks that would go together. It had to be cohesive, it had to be fashion forward."
"The Egyptian trend was the big one, with the uncovering of Tutankhamen's tomb and Egyptology going crazy. There were also devore and lamé and other textiles of that time. We had the hemlines rising so we could suggest that cutting-edge fashion."
"It was at the end of our fittings that we realized we'd come up with a real showstopper with the Egyptian headdress, and that then led in to the opening shot, which worked really well."
Hair & Makeup
"It came together with the hair and makeup, because they wanted to use that really angular, sharp, shingled bob which was very prevalent in 1924. So I had to make the outfits work with that edgy look."
Lady Mary: Getting What She Wants
"I had the idea very early on that I wanted to make a couple of outfits that would then be bought by Lady Mary, and I wanted to make sure that there was that suggestion that what she wants, she has. She's aristocratic, she's very wealthy, so she probably wouldn't go to a fashion show without picking out her favorite couple of items."
The Summer Suit
"We made a summer suit that walks down the catwalk that we then see her wearing in Episode 8."
The Tea Dress
"We bought a beautifully embellished tea dress, that was nigh on a hundred years old, that was very delicate, and we spent a couple of weeks restoring it, re-beading where it had fallen apart and re-backing it to make it more robust. It was black and white, entirely beaded with flowers on it, with sort of scallops on the bottom. And it's quite cutting-edge because it was just below the knee."
"We put her in the beaded dress for the cocktail party. Lady Mary says, "So useful" about the suit that she buys, and exclaims "Yummy!" about the beaded dress."
"My assistant designer and I travel to an amazing place in Paris called Clingancourt flea market where we pick up the most beautiful trims and little scraps of lace and embroidery that get incorporated into our original pieces. Within London, there are textile and vintage fairs where I pick up either original garments, a coat or a dress or a blouse that might need to be restored or altered, and to find trims and bits that can be worked into new garments."
"In terms of the accessories, when we see something that's interesting, we note them down in case there might be a call for them. So if you find good quality, original boas, you grab them when you can, because things are disappearing."