2020 is a mere seven years away, and fashion is looking to the Roaring 1920's for inspiration and trends. An example of our attraction to this era is the popular British drama, Downton Abbey. We are tuning in on Sunday evenings, along with 8 million other viewers, to follow the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The series is filmed at the immense Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England. It follows the characters’ lives with a backdrop of historic drama: the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and post War optimism. The show’s costuming is part of its popularity, and sometimes a scene-stealer.

The fashions in Season 1 concentrated on restrictive pre-war clothing—long dresses with elaborate designs and tightly corseted construction; Season 2 featured functional garments for wartime without much color or intricacy in detail. This year’s Season 3 showcases the coming of an era of luxury, with the use of satin and silk fabrics in rich colors that flow over the body. The corset and hobbled skirts of the Belle Époque era are replaced with loose waistlines and shorter skirts, resulting in the infamous flapper look. As a hat lover, I am amazed with the dominant role millinery has on the character depictions of class and generational style. Maggie Smith, who plays the Honorable Dowager Countess Violet, dons dramatic, wide brimmed Edwardian hats while the younger characters like Lady Mary Crawley prefer the cloche that fits closer to the face. Other notable accessory trends include strands of pearls, broaches, scarf-wrapped heads and delicately sized earrings.

The recent Louis Vuitton's 2012 fall collection was reminiscent of Downton’s era, depicting models on a train with a luxurious mix of extreme, wide-collared coats with ankle length dresses featuring nipped-in waists. Vuitton’s hats, although exaggerated, are modern interpretations of Countess Violet or Lady Grantham's chapeaus. Ralph Lauren, whose Americana and aristocratic British designs have made him a household name, is now helping sponsor the PBS Masterpiece series. This assures us that even though our favorite Downton Abbey characters may come and go, fashion will always play a part.

This May, the 1920's frenzy will have another boost with the release of the movie The Great Gatsby.  F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel gets Baz Luhrmann’s directorial treatment as he tells the story of self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, and the decade of prosperity after World War I, with a modern twist. The film looks to be a departure of the 1974 version that stared Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. That film made pastel color THE fashion trend for men in the 1970's. Based on the popularity of this American classic, and the reputation of Luhrmann's previous films (Moulin Rouge and the musical Romeo & Juliet), the movie promises to continue our fascination with bobbed hairstyles, long strands of pearls and liberating fashion. 2020 here we come!

On Wednesday, April 24, The Great Gatsby of Fashion, a luncheon and fashion runway show, will be presented to benefit the Benicia Community Action Council’s Senior Meals Program. The 4th annual event will be held at the Benicia Clock Tower, 11:30am to 1:30pm. It’s a hot ticket with City of Benicia dignitaries and business owners walking the runway to show the best in spring fashion for men and women. Tickets are available at Christina S and Be Chic Boutique or by calling Michele Hughes at 707.373.7571.