Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A Costume Drama with the Downton Abbey Cast

As well as being some of the heaviest monthly publications you'll buy all year, the September issues of the glossy fashion magazines are dripping with eye candy. After summer spreads advocating the lightest beach wear, September's autumn/winter previews are a heady assault on the senses, rich with colour and texture. The fashion editorials are also often spectacular and inventive in their own right, too, with evocative stories played out through pages bursting with couture creations.

I'll largely ignore summer magazines and hold out for the September issues. Along with the November issues, published in time for Christmas, they are my favourite fashion reading of the whole year. Not only that, they make the prospect of colder weather and shorter days much more palatable when faced with the kaleidoscope of future fashion trends.

Today I want to share an editorial special I came across in Love Magazine, by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot. I mentioned eye candy at the start of this post, and this photoshoot sums up the term perfectly. It also combines my love of creative fashion photography with another love of mine - period drama, and in particular, Downton Abbey. While I eagerly await Series Three, I'm very pleased to see the Ladies Mary, Edith and Sybil (and dastardly footman Thomas, too) dressed and made up to ethereal perfection, in a provocative editorial laden with historical references. 

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) artfully wrapped in pastel tulle with frothy pink hair and headdress - a modern, pop take on the vertical eighteenth century hairstyle of choice - the pouf

Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) resplendent with amazing electric blue pouf and floral accessories. Modern-hued eye make-up provides contrast to pale, Georgian style white foundation and matte-stained lips, all framed with a black widow-like veil.

There is something of a 'Forbidden Garden' theme about parts of this shoot,as evidenced by Jessica Brown-Findlay (Lady Sybil). Deathly pale skin plays up voluptuous cherry red lips and raven locks dishevelled and entwined with flowers. And then, of course, there's that beautiful Vivienne Westwood corset.

Yet more poufs swathed in net; their elaborate construction this time acting as a foil for naked bodies covered casually in bed sheets - Downton girls Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael are joined by a male model,also (bizarrely) coiffed in an eighteenth century style.

Inspiration isn't only found within the eighteenth century. There are some slick modern touches with a twist of Gothic and a little vintage style glamour thrown in for good measure. Here below, Laura Carmichael and Rob James-Collier strike a pose (while the model extra appears to have passed out).

In sharp contrast to the Lady Edith we see on our screens, Laura Carmichael (below) reclines in evening wear, confident and poised,cigarette nonchalantly in hand.

Jessica Brown-Findlay has the look of a Gothic heroine (below), here in a Victorian style nightgown. It's a beautiful shot, made even more striking in black and white.

And finally, back to eighteenth century inspirations: Michelle Dockery (below), wearing a vintage corset from the National Theatre Costume Hire, looks to the heavens (and that electric blue hair). The red tinged eye make-up has the strange look of bloodied tears; maybe Michelle is feeling the pain in that super-tight corset...? 

It's a beautifully shot, creatively imagined editorial; surreal and fantastical in places and sharp and glamorous in others. Not only does it showcase beautiful couture pieces, but also the acting talents of the Downton Abbey cast. Roll on Series Three, I can't wait! 

Images courtesy of Oh No They Didn't!

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