The Downton Abbey Effect...

Downton Fashion

by Maisah Thompson

The soaring success of ‘Downton Abbey’ has created a storm in both high street and catwalk fashion. With an amazing sixteen Emmy Award nominations earlier this year, including one for Outstanding Costumes for Series, the wardrobe of this particular period drama has captured the imaginations of millions. Written by Julian Fellowes and starring big names such as Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, ‘Downton Abbey’ has mesmerised and inspired many to inject the fashions of 1912 and beyond into their style. 

The allure of the Downton characters has placed a major focus on the actors who embody them. Pop Magazine’s latest release delivered a twenty-page feature inspired by the fashions of the drama. Following suit, Love Magazine has taken its own cue from the show by metamorphosing its actors in gothic-style scenes with pieces by designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. The Downton Effect on fashion focuses on celebrating and showing off the best of British luxury fashion design and heritage.  

In assimilating the Downton Effect into our own wardrobes, subtlety is key. Accessorising in an understated manner may work for most as a subtle hat-tip to the fashion and could include for instance, the incorporation of cloche hats, silk-panelled clutches and elegant evening gloves. For those more daring, and in keeping with Downton’s accession into the Roaring Twenties, look towards the Art Deco period’s fashionable offerings: flapper dresses and Poirot-inspired styling that includes heavily embellished and burnt-out pieces. 

Generally speaking, finding pieces similar to those in the show should involve a lot of dedicated vintage shop perusal. But with the beloved high street succumbing to the Downton Effect and stores such as Zara taking note, we needn’t worry! Zara, being one of the more high-end high street stores has managed to encompass a sense of luxury into their latest A/W collection with the inclusion of printed silks and lace, intricately-beaded accessories and embroidered necklines. 

And if you want to embrace that little bit of Downton under wraps, look to lingerie. Designer female underwear has flourished in popularity in response to the luxe of the series. Women are seeking that traditional glamour which proves less demanding on their everyday wardrobe – luxurious and silhouette-enhancing underwear is becoming a staple female investment. Luxury British Heritage brand Lucile Lingerie has boasted a fifty percent soar in sales after its own mention in a conversation between Dame Maggie Smith’s character and her daughter-in-law discussing her granddaughter’s honeymoon attire. The focus on British heritage and sumptuous elegance has proved an irresistible draw for many fashion consumers.

The Downton Effect may well be a passing phase - that emulates one from the past - but it is reigniting our cultural fascination with British heritage and culture and has successfully made its mark on today’s fashion scene. Ralph Lauren’s 2012 A/W collection had the Downton theme song played as the fashion house’s romanticised imagining of the English countryside was given centre stage. Downton Abbey, quite unwittingly, has become an emblem of our generation’s aching anglomania.

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