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Wendy Almeida

Wendy Almeida wrote about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for more than 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the Geocaching and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers. Follower on Twitter @wea1021 and Instagram

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Posted: March 9, 2016

Maine Historical Society ‘Downton Abbey’ exhibit highlights clothing of era

Written by: Wendy Almeida
Downton Abbey era dress exhibit

DressSmall shapes on the net scroll pattern of this young woman’s taupe peau de soie and chiffon party dress are filled with hand embroidered blue and purple silk floss. Many kinds of hand embroidered details, large and small, became a fashion feature in the 1920s–an example of the Russian Ballet influence. Photo by Dan D’Ippolito/Maine Historical Society

Fans of “Downton Abbey” are as enthusiastic about the fashion of the era as they are about the characters themselves, so the Maine Historical Society decided to give Portland-area fans a close-up view of the kind of clothing worn during that time period.

The exhibit, “Fashionable Downton Abbey: Selections from the Maine Historical Society Costume Collection,” features an evening jacket, shawl and several dress styles. There is a lot of intricate embroidery as well as examples of new colors of the time, like “Nile green.” The clothing offers insight not only into the fashion of the time period but also the cultural events and significance of women’s clothing in history. For instance, the rayon night dress in the collection represents the first artificial silk garments, which made purchasing refined silk-like fabrics an option for a larger number of women.

Downton Abbey ere fashion exhibit

Showing the influence of designer Paul Poiret the waist on this elegant purple wool challis day gown is slightly above natural level and an overskirt extends to within inches of the hem. This dress was made by the donor’s grandmother, Martha Willey Riley. Photo by Dan D’Ippolito/Maine Historical Society

All the selected items are from Maine Historical Society collections, and most were made by local dressmakers and worn by local people.

“This is a good opportunity to allow people to see fabrics of yesteryear, which are so different than what we purchase today,” said Jacqueline Field, curator of the show as well as an author and textile and dress historian.

“Fashionable Downton Abbey: Selections from the Maine Historical Society Costume Collection”

This evening dress was made in Paris. With its color–newly introduced Nile green named after the River Nile–and sequined palmette or lotus leaf patterns on the hemline tabs, this dress is an example of the Egyptian influence that swept the fashion world as news of Howard Carter’s 1922 opening of King Tut’s tomb and his discoveries in the Valley of Kings were publicized.Photo by Dan D’Ippolito/Maine Historical Society

“Fashionable Downton Abbey: Selections from the Maine Historical Society Costume Collection” is on view through March 30 at the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland.


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