downton abbey

Theme 15: Downton Abbey. The Exhibition in New York.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition Review. New York, 2018

When I first heard that Downton Abbey: The Exhibition was coming to New York, I was beyond excited! It has been years since the last season aired. Nothing could quite replace witty, funny quotes of Dowager Countess, the fascinating-to-watch competition between Mary and “poor Edith”, blossoming romances, emotional heartbreaks and seemingly never-ending miseries of upstairs and downstairs habitants of Downton Abbey.

Asking myself the iconic “What is a weekend?”, I decided to take my friend Allison, a fellow fiction writer and another die-hard Downton Abbey fan, to the exhibition on Saturday morning to explore and review it for my Pastiche.today readers. I already had a Downton Abbey theme running on my blog, and I knew that this experience will be a perfect addition to the collection of my articles about the show and looks inspired by the Downton Abbey’s characters. You can click here to see the rest of the posts inspired by the famous PBS show.

Mrs Patmore's kitchen. Downton Abbey exhibition in New York.

From the very beginning, the exhibition immerses you into the Crawleys’ household and really makes you feel that you are stepping into the Highclere Castle, where the PBS show was filmed. It all starts with the warm welcome from Carson and Mrs Hughes, and leads you through an impeccably and very true-to-detail executed kitchen of Mrs. Patmore, where she ruled over a handful of kitchen maids and footmen. Then you continue to explore the detailed sets and costumes of the servants’ quarters.

Servants Quarters in Downton Abbey. PBS show exhibition
Downton Abbey cast's costumes on display in New York.

The second and the third floor explores the lavish and beautiful world of Crawleys. It felt almost scandalous to peek at immaculately recreated Lady Mary’s bedroom, where I couldn’t help to avoid thinking of Kemal Pamuk. Then there is of course a grand dining room. Empty, but all set for an exquisite dinner party that could arrive any second. Every detail is intimately familiar and gives such a surreal feeling of invading Crawleys’ home that I half expected the Dowager Countess Violet to appear in front of me with a suppressed, but visible mark of a humorous disdain on her glorious face:  “Oh, roll up, roll up, visit an actual dining room! Complete with a real life table and chairs!”.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.
Lady Mary Bedroom
20s dresses in Downton Abbey. Period drama costumes. Fashion of Downton Abbey.

Slowly walking and taking in all the magnificence of the masterfully designed space by Imagine Exhibtions, Allison and I especially enjoyed all the interactive and smartly placed insights of the historic events and changes that occurred in daily lives of British subjects from Post-Edwardian Era to the World War 1 and the Roaring Twenties. I can confidently and sincerely declare that even those who haven’t yet seen the Downton Abbey would enjoy all the valuable and entertaining information if they have even a remote interest in history!

Wedding hair in Downton abbey
Downton Abbey. Edit's Wedding gown
Downton Abbey fashion.
PBS Downton Abbey fashion styles.
Sybil's harem pants in Downton Abbey.

And how can I forget to mention the costumes and accessories of the Downton Abbey’s ladies and gentlemen! The abundance of wedding laces, strict lines of riding costumes and enchanting glitz of all the glamorous 20s gowns absolutely stole my heart. Even though sometimes I like slipping into pajamas at a Netflix kind of night at home, I desperately long for the times when an afternoon tea in a garden required a pretty hat, and for a 6 pm dinner you had to change into an evening gown and wear long elegant gloves.

20s fashion in Downton Abbey show.
Downton Abbey Exhibition

Lord and Lady Granham, Mary, Edith and Sybil, Tom Branson, Mr, Barrow, Isobel, Daisy and all other beloved and sometimes despised characters of Downton Abbey already felt so real to every fan of the show, but the exhibition immersed us into their world like never before. Allison noted: “The section with the gramophone and the visual explanation of social hierarchy reminded me of the circumstances these characters faced and the changing landscape they had to navigate. The characters already felt real and three-dimensional. All of this information along with the costumes, sets, and  props made them even more alive!”

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition has exceeded my expectations and truly made me feel like I was a dear guest at the Crawley’s, or a curious phantom wondering through the halls and sumptuous rooms of the family that quite honestly feels in a way like my own!


Week 15: Downton Abbey. Pastiche of Lady Mary Crawley in the 1920s

Blog of Ulia Ali. Pastiche of 20s Downton Abbey looks.

Love her or hate her, Lady Mary is one of the strongest female characters in the Downton Abbey TV series and possibly in the entire history of British TV shows. While watching the show I tried to figure out with which character I associate myself with the most, and even though at the end I had to admit to myself (not without a little annoyance!) that I am more of a Lady Rose kind of girl– spontaneous, reckless, romantic and sometimes too emotional, I wish I was more like Lady Mary.

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Lady Mary has a strong head on her shoulders and does not easily give into her emotions (especially after the scandal with the GORGEOUS Mr. Pamuk). But both, Lady Rose and Lady Mary have something in common– an amazing sense of fashion. I created a pastiche of Lady Mary Crawley with a hint of Rose Aldridge's flirty flapper girl style, but as always with a modern twist.

Cloisters museum. Lady Mary Crawley look.

For the shoot I opted for this embellished Walter Baker dress, a lace choker and my Art-Deco inspired Christian Louboutin heels. Please check out the outfit details and similar finds at the end of the post.

The photographs were taken by my husband Ben at Fort Tryon and The Cloisters Museum, which was built to resemble a real medieval castle with authentic medieval gardens. The museum and Fort Tryon park are located in Upper Manhattan and are definitely worth a visit!

Photo of Ulia Ali
Cloisters' medieval garden in NYC
Fort Tryon
Blogger Ulia Ali next to the Met Cloisters museum
Silver Walter Baker dress and Art Deco inspired Christian Louboutin heels.
Pastiche of Downton Abbey fashion style in 1920s
Medieval museum in New York Cloisters. 2016
Christian Louboutin Kristali silver heels

Week 15: Downton Abbey. Theme Shop

Downton Abbey themed shop. Fashion looks, gifts and items of decor inspired by the British Show.

Want to dress up like Lady Mary or bedazzle in an embellished flapper dress like Lily James' character Rose Aldridge? We got you covered! I handpicked the most beautiful Downton Abbey inspired gifts and outfits for this week's SHOP.

How cute is this Mrs. Patmore teddy bear?! 

Week 4: Bridal. TOP 10 Movie Weddings

Top 10 Best Film Weddings

Aren't we all guilty of comparing our own lives to the ones we see on the movie screens? Especially when it comes to relationships and, of course, to ridiculously fun, romantic or just simply lavish and extravagant weddings! Although, real love is always better than the one you have to fake, we still can get inspired and take a note or two watching our favourite film characters tying the knot.

Top 10 Film Weddings

1. Gossip Girl

I still remember how impatiently I was waiting for every episode of Gossip Girl, and even though I am not a fan of re-watching TV Shows (unless it is Game of Thrones!), I sometimes have an extreme wave of nostalgia and an urge to watch this most fashionable show ever. 

Gossip Girl weddings. Best film and tv show brides

Blair and Chuck, Serena and Dan and Blair (again!) and Louis. Who knew the show about school gossips, loaded mean girls and teenage romances will have so many weddings after just few seasons?

2. MAMMA MIA

Even though the wedding did not quite happen, Amanda Seyfried makes a beautiful bride. A few golden details here and there, and you too can look like a Greek Goddess!

Mamma Mia Wedding Inspiration

3. TWILIGHT

I have a love/hate relationships with the Twilight saga. I think it is a very silly, poorly written and badly constructed teenage fantasy romance story, BUT I still read all the books and watched all the movies. Bella's dress in the film, made by Carolina Herrera, is very elegant and beautiful. However, my attention is devoted not to Kristen Stewart's bridal look, but to the gorgeous decor. 

Bella and Edward beautiful wedding ceremony, Twilight.

4. DOWNTON ABBEY

Hands down, one of my favourite shows. If you haven't watched it, start today! The show is filled with a romance, engagements and several weddings during six seasons of the show. Here are the ones I admire the most:

Downton Abbey Brides. Wedding Dresses

5. STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Being a big fan of Star Wars, I cannot miss a chance to include this short, but breathtakingly beautiful ceremony of Anakin and Padme. The scene was shot at the Villa del Balbianello that overlooks Lake Como in Italy. Absolutely perfect wedding spot! 

6. EMMA

Jane Austen is an author every bride-to-be should read. One of my top bridal looks from 'Austen's realm' is Emma's! The role was played by lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. You can actually see this and other wonderful wedding dresses from films at the Fashionable Romance exhibition, at the Biltmore House in North Carolina. Plan to visit before 4th of July as that is when the exhibition will end. I am certainly determined to travel to North Carolina now!

Best Film Weddings including adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

7. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

Ok, let's admit that this wedding dress is a little bit over the top. But if you want a good laugh before your own marriage ceremony, this is a comedy movie you should watch! Bonus? The sequel of this surprise hit movie is now in cinemas! 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie dress

8. REIGN

Adelaide Kane, who plays Mary Queen of Scots, in this absolutely NOT historically accurate TV show, is one of the most naturally gorgeous people I have ever set my eyes on. Seeing her in the wedding dress made my heart literally skip a beat. But brides can get inspired not only by that wedding episode. The whole show is filled with gowns to-die-for, thanks to Meredith Markworth-Pollack - the wonderful costume designer (who also follows me on Instagram! Yes!)

Reign Wedding Dresses. Mary Queen of Scots as a bride

9. BRIDE WARS

A female oriented comedy focusing on two beautiful brides - Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson.

Bride Wars Wedding Dresses. Top 10 film brides and weddings

10. LA REINE MARGOT

La Reine Margot is not a film for for the faint-hearted, and certainly not a pre-bridal movie to watch. Have you heard of St. Bartholomew's Day massacre? It took place five days after Margaret's de Valois (yes, Francis' sister, if you learn about history only from shows like Reign) wedding to the protestant Henry III of Navarre. It is believed that marriage was planned by Catherine de Medici (yes, Francis's mother) to gather the most wealthy Protestants in catholic Paris, in order to brutally kill them all. And we thought the 'Red Wedding' was bloody!

Red Wedding Dress at The Reign Margot movie

Well, at least the Queen Margot played by Isabelle Adjani looked stunning in her red wedding gown. Can I have that headpiece, please?