Downton Abbey lovers rejoice! Season 4 has transitioned from an initial snooze-fest to a sizzling drama! The last few episodes have turned an otherwise slow starting, downer of a Downton season into a riveting suspenseful series of plot twists and turns. Starting six months post Matthew's death, the beginning of Season 4 set off with an inevitably depressing tone. Lady Mary mopes about Downton drenched in black from head to toe, almost in a trance as she is (understandably) mourning the death of her husband. Yet, various plot developments have provided some intriguing suspense to keep loyal watchers hooked now more than ever. From the multiple handsome suitors vying for Lady Mary's attention to the devastating tragedy involving sweet Anna, to the mysterious disappearance of Edith's love interest (and her surprise pregnancy to boot), there is suddenly enough drama to keep us watching.
One thing I have always loved about the show is the fascinating details that gracefully accompany the character and plot development within the context of the evolving cultural, political, and historical landscape. The costume and set designers certainly did their homework! Each season brings new changes so accurately reflected in the fashion, decor, and themes relevant to its time.
Season 4 started only months after Matthew's death, in a dour and depressing mood, clearly reflected in the obligatory black attire worn by family. Yet, as the plot shifted to developing new story-lines, we see interesting fashion changes that reflect the new political and cultural landscape of the 1920's. As women are gaining more opportunities and freedoms, they are trading their restrictive corsets for loose-fitting drop-waist gowns. They are gaining literal freedom of movement in these comfortable ensembles. Yet, there is still attention to luxe detail (often Deco-esque) in the beautiful beadwork, embroidery, velvets, and silks of these gowns, often in bold, jewel-toned hues. Additionally, women are bravely bearing more in their brazen showcase of ankles, shoulders, and in Lady Edith's case, even backs, as never seen before in women's fashion of the time.
For more on '20s fashion, see my earlier post about The Great Gatsby film...
For more on Downton Abbey interiors, see my earlier post...
The attire in initial episodes reflect the dark, mourning tone after Matthew's death...
But, as the episodes progress, we begin to see a shift in fashion, reflecting new designs and cultural norms of the '20s....
|The 'wave' hair style, popular during the 20's|
|Loose-fitted, drop waist, ankle-length gowns...|
|Bold zig-zag patterns...|
|Intricate, lace, bead, embroidery details...|
|Elaborate headbands were evidently the thing...|
|Lady Rose, pushing the cultural boundaries of the time (thank heavens, someone had to start!)|
|Lady Edith is looking increasingly glamorous as she seeks new professional and romantic interests...|
|Love the bold rust color of Lady Edith's gown and matching scarf...|
|How daring is Lady Edith, wearing this skin-bearing gown to meet her mysterious (and scandalous) beau...LOVE the beautiful green color and geometric beadwork design...|
|Did I mention the divine HATS in all their detail-laden glory? I need to find some close-up photos of the hats of Downton!|
|Had to include a shot of adorable George in his little sailor outfit and cute little white leather shoes!|
|A thorough representation of all types of fashion in a heavily-class-based society of Early 20th C England...|
Addendum: The following last few photos are from the season finale!
I discovered an interesting and relevant article in the NYT, "The Transformation of Lady Edith" by Ruth La Ferla 1.31.14 (link below) that touches on this shift in fashion.
I can't wait to see what happens next as we progress through this exciting new season! Stay tuned.