The award-winning period drama is now in its fourth season. After initially being set in 1912 the show has now moved into the 1920s and costume designer Caroline McCall has explained how the female cast’s outfits have changed over the years.
“We’re not in the flapper period yet, but there are all sorts of designer influences going on in the early twenties. A lot of Lady Mary’s [played by Michelle Dockery] wardrobe is inspired by Vionnet. Lady Rose MacClare [played by Lily James] has a lot of knitwear because the argyle craze was beginning due to the fact that the royals were starting to wear their knits in day-to-day life, instead of just for sport,” she told style.com.
“Then there’s a lot of Lanvin-influenced dresses. And Edith [played by Laura Carmichael] has all sorts of influences, because of her being in London. She’s a journalist and she’s trying to be more sexy and womanly, so for her, I looked at lots of illustrations by George Barbier. Poiret has also been an influence throughout.”
To give the ensembles an authentic look Caroline used a lot of dresses from the era. However, it was a struggle to find the pieces.
“We have used a lot of vintage dresses in particular, but they need a lot of help. I get them from auctions or vintage fairs, but usually they’re very expensive,” she added. “It’s too expensive to get something that’s in perfect condition, so I often buy things that are really quite tragic, and then we have to revive them. So maybe there’s a dress that’s got a beautiful beaded skirt but the rest of it is disintegrating. I’ll buy that and we’ve got very clever people that can revive it.”
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