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‘Downton Abbey’: the dress that was worn without underwear, a symbol of women’s liberation

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Premieres Downton Abbey: A New Erathe second film about the famous TV series, which reflects the fashion and trends of the “roaring ’20s” and the historical and social changes of the golden age of Hollywood.

The famous series, which caused a sensation from 2010 to 2015, begins in 1912, when the sinking of the Titanic leaves the Earl of Grantham, owner of Downton Abbey, an impressive manor house in the English county of Yorkshire, without a male heir.

The screenwriter Julian Fellowes traces the history of the Lord Grantham family, formed by Robert Crawley (played by actor Hugh Bonneville) and his wife, Cora (played by actress Elizabeth McGovern) and their three daughters: Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Lady Sybil (actress Jessica Brown Findlay). Although, for many, the best character is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet (played masterfully by actress Maggie Smith), whose opinions on everything and everyone are one of the highlights of the series.

In parallel to the lives of the aristocrats, the life of the servants: Carlson, the butler; Bates, the earl’s valet; Anna, the first maid; Mrs. Hughes, housekeeper; Mrs. Patmore, the powerful cook; Barrow, first footman; Betsy, kitchen apprentice…

As now, TVE1 has begun to broadcast the series, after dinner, from the first season, so as not to “gut” the outcome of the different seasons or make spoilerwe will only say that all of them, both the aristocrats and the servants, will witness events such as World War Ithe arrival of the automobile and many other new inventions and, of course, the changes in clothing and trends over the decades.

Cast of the first film based on the series ‘Downton Abbey’. Archive image.

After six successful seasons on the small screen, in 2019 the series was made into a film, with the film Downton Abbey, created for millions of fans around the world. The mansion and the family will be revolutionized by the news that King George V and Queen Mary are going to visit the mansion, so they will have to organize a party to match, and dress accordingly for the royal occasion.


To reflect the evolution of fashion until 1928 (the year in which the plot is set), the director of movie costumes, Anna Robbinschose to dress Lady Mary that night in a very special dress, the Delphos by Fortuny. A dress that was a liberation for women, in the first third of the 20th century: with it they said goodbye to corsets, the countless layers of clothing and underwear, since it had to be worn without anything underneath, so as not to be marked. . He was such shock He assumed that only the actresses and dancers of the time initially dared to wear it.

With the DelphosFortuny went ahead Paul Poiret already Coco Chanel by freeing women from corseted dresses: it was loose, light, very comfortable and made of silk and adorned with Murano glass beads. The color, length, and shape of the sleeve could vary. It was the brilliant creation of a man who was not a fashion designer, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, but a painter, sculptor, photographer, inventor, set designer, designer of lamps and fabrics, of Delphos (and other clothes to combine it with) and even a marketing genius. In 1909 he patented a procedure for pleating and waving fabrics, known worldwide as Fortuny pleating. No one has been able to replicate it and have the pleating remain perfect for more than a hundred years, as happens with Fortuny’s Delphos.

Now it premieres Downton Abbey: A New Era, which continues the plot, also in 1928, and begins with a mystery: grandmother Violet has inherited a villa in the south of France. And, at the same time, a film director (played by Hugh Dancy) and his entire team arrive at Downton Abbey to film their next film there.

Dressed to live the future

The change of location and the filming of “the film within the film” serves Anna Robins to show a lighter and more avant-garde wardrobein keeping with the times, in which Coco Chanel, Jean Patou and other couturiers dress women to live outside their homes: playing sports, sunbathing, bathing on the beach… Therefore, in one scene, Lady Edith mentions the famous French designer along with the author of The Great Gatsby and his wife: “Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, Coco Chanel… the names that keep hotels open in July.”

Some characters from ‘Downton Abbey: new era’ (2022).

Fashion fans can’t miss Lady Edith’s wardrobe for the French Riviera: dresses for playing tennis, their silk pajamas, their kimonos and turbans and their evening dresses, to fully dance the roaring 20s. And neither that of Myrna Dalgleish, the Hollywood star (played by Laura Haddock) who arrives at Downton Abbey for filming, whose wardrobe is inspired by that of the actresses of the time: Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Lillian Gish…

Actress Laura Haddock plays actress Myrna Dalgleish, the Hollywood star who arrives at Downton Abbey for filming.

Downton Abbey: A New Era narrates the beginnings of women’s struggle to claim their place in society, despite the prejudices of the time, which is summarized in the advice that grandmother Violet gives to her granddaughter Mary: “Women like us belong to “There are two categories: either witches or fools, and I advise you that it is better to be seen as a witch.”

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