Authentic Period Designs from The Design Center Exhibited at Downton Abbey Screening

Sarah Moore, collections curator for The Design Center, showcased authentic period designs for a reception and viewing celebrating the second season finale of the award-winning series Downton Abbey.  The event took place Feb. 19 at WHYY, the Philadelphia public television station that airs the show locally.

Items from The Design Center’s historic collection included evening dresses, a sequined fan, shoes, a World War I Red Cross head scarf and wide-brimmed velvet hats, all styles popular during the years 1912 to 1918, around the time the series is set.

Items from the Downton Abbey exhibit will be on display on the first floor of Hayward Hall starting Feb. 23 and continuing through late March.

Winner of six Emmy awards last year, Downton Abbey returned this year to depict the lives of the noble Crawley family and the staff who serves them in their Edwardian country house in the early 1900s. Created by Emmy-winning writer Julian Fellowes, the all-star cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Emmy-winner Dame Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern.

Most of the designs, including two evening dresses, would have been worn by those in the upper classes, Moore said.  A drawstring evening bag was a popular shape for that time period, and large wide-brimmed hats were all the rage just before and during the World War I period.  A velvet and silk satin hat on display is almost identical to one worn by the character Lady Cora in the series, Moore noted.

The beaded and buckled shoes displayed feature fashionable pointed toes and Louis XIV-style heels.  The exhibit also included such personal items as hand-carved tortoise shell combs with Art Nouveau details and personal fans.

Stephanie Nawrocki, a fashion design student and Design Center intern, helped present the collection at the WHYY event.

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