Starting February 5, 2015, fans of the British television series Downton Abbey will be able to see the costumes that made the show so popular. In addition, the 240-room Biltmore Estate will offer a glimpse into America's Gilded Age and how high society lived with such grandeur.
Downton Abbey's about to invade the opulent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. According to the latest press release from the property, an exhibit with more than 40 costumes from the PBS Masterpiece /ITV series will be available for examination.
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Starting February 5, 2015 and lasting until Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, "Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times" will offer a blurred look between fiction and reality. Biltmore was built by the tycoon George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1985 during the Gilded Age (the American equivalent to the Victorian Era). At over 178,926 square feet, it is the largest privately owned house in the United States and was run very similarly to Downton Abbey--just across the pond. And is still owned by a Vanderbilt descendant.
Famously, Frederick Law Olmsted helped develop the landscaping. Many fans of the show may know his most famous work: Central Park in New York City.
And in keeping with a deeper look at the times of Highclere Castle, the exhibition will focus on themes such as fashion, etiquette, women's movement in the modern age, and the life of service staff. In fact, Biltmore's Director of Museum Services Ellen Rickman said, "Just like Downton has Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Biltmore had its own cast of fascinating characters. Displaying these fabulous costumes from the show gives us an unparalleled opportunity to delve into Biltmore's stories."
The blurring of lines also offers fans of the series and estate to really see how the fabulously wealthy lived in the early 20th century. London costume house Cosprop Ltd. spend time designing the costumes by using designs found in photographs and historical patterns.
Created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville as the Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, a seemingly impoverished aristocratic household looking to maintain the image of the propriety in the post-Edwardian era and begins just after the sinking of the HMS Titanic.
The series also stars: Elizabeth McGovern as the Duchess of Grantham, Cora Crawley; Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley; Laura Carmichael as the middle sister, Lady Edith Crawley; and Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the matriarchal Dowager Countess.
Already in the fifth season, the series has faced the death of some characters, like Lady Sybil Crawley Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), but does not shy away from the eras being represented, including the First World War and currently the Beer Hall Putsch attempt in Germany, where Hitler attempted to overthrow the government in the early 1920s—and why he ended up in prison. In five seasons, the show has managed to move from 1912 to 1923.
The changes of women during the time of Downton Abbey showed a tremendous growth as women were nurses in the war and looking for work in the 1920s. The American run of the fifth season just started while the British televising ended at the Christmas Special. While not always a critical success, the show has proven to be a commercial success and carries on with women cast members provoking the most response in sympathy and viewer feedback.
And the costuming production did not just include reproductions, but actual period pieces to give the show more legitimacy. Country tweeds, evening attire with embroidery, and service uniforms will be on display to showcase the changing times through fashion.
Audiences will be able to see what the characters wore and how British society viewed the world through fashion during early 20th century. And Biltmore Estate will offer the grandiose setting of the Gilded Age, the time of Downton Abbey with authenticity.
The property will offer new insights into maintaining the house during the age of opulence and glamor with tours that will show the upstairs-downstairs dichotomy that makes Downton so popular. Audiences will also hear about the owners and servants who inhabited the 250-room estate as well enjoy an English Sunday Brunch.
Fans may also enjoy the “Dressing Down” hotel package at the Inn on Biltmore, where guests may relax in accommodations, access for the Biltmore House for the entire stay with audio guide if desired, a daily breakfast buffet, afternoon tea in the Library Lounge, free estate shuttle service, and valet parking.
The exhibit is sponsored by Belk department stores.
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