The New Castle Historical Society’s (NCHS) “Downton Chappy” exhibit, based on the surprise-hit TV show Downton Abbey and brought to life at Chappaqua’s Horace Greeley House, features costumes made of soft fabrics with rich beading and embroidery, representative of a burgeoning female movement in early-20thcentury dress and daily life.
NCHS Collections Chairman Nancy O’Neil tells us more about the period project.
“The exhibit was inspired by the dresses in last season’s Downton Abbey, many similar to those in our collection. While Chappaqua ladies lived in a democratic society, not in a class-conscious aristocracy, their knowledge of fashionable clothes and how to wear them was second to none.”
“We demonstrate how the prevailing fashions changed from the confining, corseted gowns pre-World War I to the more relaxed and high-spirited styles of the ’20s and ’30s. Women were moving into greater participation in careers, sports, and parties, and wore the clothes with an easier silhouette that suited these activities.”
“Placards point out fine details like lace insets and subtle stitching. We have a 1933 satin-and-lace wedding gown that is very similar to the one that [Abbey’s] Lady Mary wore when she married Mr. Crawley. We also have flapper dresses and a beautiful silk ‘cocoon’ evening wrap, as well as beaded bags, hats, scarves, and gloves.”
“A visit to the exhibit will make the visitor aware of how modern these dresses were, and how beautiful they are. Many visitors are moved to say, ‘I could put that dress on today and look fabulous.’ Come to the exhibit and pick your favorite.”
If you go: “Downton Chappy–Costumes of the Downton Abbey Era” is on display until January 15; Tuesday through Thursday and Saturdays 1 to 4 pm (other hours by appointment) at the Horace Greeley House in Chappaqua (100 King St 914-238-4666; newcastlehs.org). Admission is free.