Every now and then, a book or a tv show becomes part of our lives. Downton Abbey is such a show. My daughter and I have watched Downton Abbey for several years now and felt bittersweet when the show came to an end yesterday evening.
As a milliner, I focused a lot on the hats that the characters were wearing. The show spanned from 1912 to 1925 and covered 2 very different periods of fashion. The beginning was all Edwardian Hats. Think Titanic. Oversized with TONS of feathers, flowers, lace (or anything else that didn’t move) precariously perched on a hat. The wider or taller the affair, the better. Despite being a pain to see around, women wore these picture hats everywhere in public. Even the new sport of motoring didn’t present a problem for hat-wearing. Women started added veiling that tied under the chin to keep hats on while puttering about. Many oversized hats today are inspired by this period. I know that my burgundy parasisal picture hat was inspired by the early seasons of Downton Abbey. The wide upturned brim frames the wearer’s face like a picture, while the Italian silk double bow is bold, luxurious, and even a bit fanciful.
But nothing lasts forever and the movement towards smaller hats gained momentum after WWI. As Downton Abbey moved into the 1920s, hats with smaller brims started appearing. The cloche hat was the perfect foil for a modern woman with shorter hair. We all remember the episode when Mary cut her hair and heralded a new era. Interestingly, the cloche hat was invented in 1908 by Caroline Reboux and took almost a decade to catch on. Once it did, it was everywhere and became synonymous with the Roaring Twenties.
I think they ended the show at the right time. Had it continued, it would have progressed from the Crash of ’29 to the Great Depression and possibly onto WWII. Better to end on a high note with fabulous fashion in a transformative decade.