Long Weekend: ‘Dressing Downton’ at the Biltmore

See series costumes on display at the North Carolina Estate.
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Downton Abbey (PBS) Season 1,2010. Shown: Shown from left: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern.

FILM STILL CREDIT: ©Carnival Films

Local Downton Abbey devotees may have noticed on the third episode of season five that apparently Cora Crawley is from Cincinnati. As we reeled from this awesome, random news, something else occurred to us: This means that Cora’s mother, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, is from Cincinnati too.

But we digress.

To show fans, Highclere Castle (where the PBS Masterpiece period drama is filmed) is the ultimate mecca. But at more than 3,000 miles away, it’s not exactly a quick jaunt. Enter the Biltmore Estate.

As close as America gets to a proper castle, the Vanderbilt family’s legendary historic home and grounds hosts an exhibition of more than 45 costumes from the smash hit series, including gowns, suits, servants’ uniforms, and fancy hats.

The award-winning costumes will be displayed in groupings throughout the house inspired both by the fictional show and by life in the Biltmore’s heyday, and will reflect how historical events like the First World War and women’s suffrage influenced fashions.

Downton Abbey (PBS) Season 1,2010. Shown: Maids in line.
Downton Abbey (PBS) Season 1,2010. Shown: Maids in line.

FILM STILL CREDIT: ©Carnival Films

This costume will be displayed for visitors to view in the Second Floor Living Hall in Biltmore House Oct. 1, 2014, until the exhibition’s opening day on Feb. 5. The preview costume was worn by Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, during season 1 of “Downton Abbey” covering the years 1913-1914.
This costume will be displayed for visitors to view in the Second Floor Living Hall in Biltmore House Oct. 1, 2014, until the exhibition’s opening day on Feb. 5. The preview costume was worn by Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, during season 1 of “Downton Abbey” covering the years 1913-1914.

FILM STILL CREDIT: © Carnival Films

“The day-to-day running of Biltmore House was surprisingly similar to that of Downton Abbey,” says Ellen Rickman, Director of Museum Services. “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.”

Dressing Downton, Feb 5–May 25, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC, biltmore.com

 

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