With the premiere of the third season of Downton Abbey, the whole world — fashion or otherwise — let out a collective gasp of excitement. Yes, Downton was still dressed to the nines (well, half the cast, at least), but what came as a surprise to some was that the show, which is produced by PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre, was now being sponsored by none other than American fashion icon Ralph Lauren. While he’s known for taking inspiration from the American West, the Ivy League and the shores of the Cape, Ralph’s no stranger to the English countryside, the setting for the drama of Downton Abbey. Not to mention that the strains of the show’s theme song served as the soundtrack to Lauren’s presentation during New York Fashion Week back in September.
While none of the women of Downton would ever dream of wearing pants, the show included a romp through the hills of England, with models wearing hunting plaids, great coats and more, each embellished with fair isle knits, exaggerated plaid patterns and the masterful tailoring that Lauren is known for in his day looks. The evening looks, however, played more to the Deco influence of the ’20s, featuring gold and black gowns that Lady Mary and company would fight over in an instant. Gold beads decorated bodices of simple black columns and shimmering lamé — perhaps a little too shimmering for an evening soiree with the Gainsboroughs — was pleated and draped for luxe showstopping gowns.
Lauren loved the show so much that for a pre-premiere blowout, he hosted the same NYFW presentation at Highclere Castle, the actual Yorkshire estate where the show is filmed. Not surprisingly, the clothes that were inspired by the locale and the drama contained within fit right into the British environs. And while we probably won’t spy the clothes in the actual show, for one night, Downton Abbey was filled with the glamour and glitz that the characters always aspire to. Leave it to fashion to bring their dreams, and those of the audiences, into the real world.
Photos courtesy Style.com and Ralph Lauren