Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Downton Abbey at Winterthur

Last week Jean and I attended one of the most gorgeous exhibits I have ever seen. If you are a fan of "Downton Abbey," or a fan of 1920s costumes, head to Winterthur in Delaware to see this amazing exhibit.

Forty costumes are on loan from Cosprop, one of the world's leading costumier to film, television and theater. The exhibit runs from March 1-January 4th, plenty of time for everyone to see it. This exhibit is included with general admission tickets, but they are requiring reservations for timed tickets for non-members. Members no longer need advanced reservations, so you can try to tag along with us.

Disclaimer: prior to taking pictures, I asked for permission and was told as long as I did not use a flash, I was allowed to take as many pictures as I wanted. Later on I saw "no photography" signs, so proceed with caution. I did see a lot of people using their phones to take pictures.

The idea behind this exhibit is to compare and contrast life in an American manor home of the 1920s (in this case, Winterthur) with one in England (umm...Downton Abbey). Winterthur was Henry du Pont's childhood home. He greatly expanded it to 175 rooms. He opened his home to the public in 1951, and died in 1969. Also included in the general admission ticket is a tour of the house. I highly recommend touring the house while there.

The first difference highlighted was that at Downton Abbey the staff and family members were hesitant to modernize. By contrast, du Pont wanted the gentility of the past with every possible modern convenience -- from electricity to air-conditioning.

In addition to the costumes were gigantic pictures of the actors and actresses wearing the outfits. In many cases, hats and other accessories were included in the displays. In a few cases, there were scenes from the show flickering on screens. Ahh...I can't wait until Season 5 airs in 2015.

There was a lot of interesting information to read throughout the exhibit, but not an overwhelming amount. One interesting tidbit was that women did not wear corsets during tea time. 

Some of the dresses included details about how the costumers made dresses out pieces of fabric or dresses from the 1920s. In the case of the one below, dyed a vintage dress to better fit the scene. 

This dress was made from a piece of fabric, with more added to it to turn it into a dress.

This suitcase fit all the clothes needed by a wealthy person for a weekend getaway. We have a similar piece at home that we use for Ashley's dress up collection. I can tell you ours is nearly impossible to move empty without a second person. I can't fathom traveling with one.

These women don't just look tiny on TV, they really are tiny in person. 

Above is one of the most famous outfits -- Sybil's harem pants worn in Season 1. One of the shoulders of this vintage outfit tore during filming. The costumers quickly made adjustments and filming took place at an angle where it was not visible. I stared as closely as I could without arousing the interest of the guards, and I could not tell you which side sustained damage.

Comparing the two grand dames: Violet and Isoabel.

I loved the entire exhibit. These are just a few pictures. There is a lot more to see. The Winterthur staff is having a lot of fun tying everything to this exhibit from the food they serve in their restaurant to lectures and teas and dress-up for the children and anything else they can imagine. It is a fun time to be a member of Winterthur.

We have already made plans to return in April. I look forward to sharing the exhibit with Ashley.

No comments:

Post a Comment