i know i’d been teasing for a while that i had managed to get access to downton abbey series 2, but in the end i decided to save most of it for a quiet night where i could indulge in a marathon of multiple episodes late into the next morning – new year’s eve. it’s my favorite viewing style for a new show i’m excited about and this fit the bill brilliantly.
even better, by then i’d manage to acquire the christmas special as well, so i knew i’d have a more “complete” story – as much as an ongoing soap opera will ever break story pieces into “complete” bits.
you see, that is my television weakness and vice. i get so story-driven that i cannot handle a long hiatus, or a multiple season arc, if i don’t feel confident that the journey will be worth it. (ask me how i know, season 3 of LOST!!) and DVD gives me the absurd luxury of being able to watch my favorite television stories in huge gulps instead of teeny, cliffhanger-ed bits. my obsession carries me to the point where i not only do not fear spoilers, i embrace them and seek them out. so, without spoiling anything for you, readers, i will say that the addition of the christmas special to my arsenal was the only thing making it possible for me to enjoy series 2 to the extent that i did, because it was at the end of the special, not at the end of episode 8, that there was a proper pause in the story that sets up some lovely jumping off points for series 3.
unusually, aside from reading some of the episode reviews in the british papers, i’ve kept away from much of the analysis about this most recent season (beginning its US run on 8 January) because i found that i disagreed with it utterly and completely. with the cushion of knowing in advance what was coming in terms of the major plot points, i felt completely able to revel in them without having to over-consider their alleged absurdity or out-of-character behavior, and all of this is argued over ad nauseum in every writeup of the series i’ve seen so far – even US ones. and to all of you UK folks who started complaining that the storylines got to be too much of a soap opera, i say two things to you: 1) it was during a war, which, by the way, was an incredibly engaging and moving (if completely cliche) storytelling device, and sh*t happens during a war and, more importantly, 2) if you saw the “weekend at bernie’s” episode of season 1 and were ok with it, you have absolutely no cause to complain.
seriously, i don’t care who kissed whom, who got arrested for what, who had an absurdly annoying illegitimate child, who caught the influenza or stole black market goods — all of that was sensible storytelling compared to lady mary’s little secret of season 1 and, more importantly, you can make a case for all of it making sense in a story with the backdrop of a war and what it does to your life.
moving on. obviously the best bit, aside from the amazing maturation and fun of the will-they-or-won’t-they couple of the century, matthew and mary, was the clothes. even in wartime, the clothes were great. it was fun to get so into the story that the shorter wartime skirts–OMG, you can see their ankles!!–did actually look noticeable and shocking compared to the elaborate garb of the pre-war series.
lady mary’s skirts and shirtwaists were my favorites. in what i think was a smart costuming choice, they showed that even the granthams were affected stylistically by the war. the ladies were not out buying new frocks every episode, but shown wearing the same frocks in multiple configurations and situations. you know, like we do in real life.
also, this waist was perfect, and so obviously suitable for the folkwear armistice blouse that i almost giggled:
so behold my latest fabric acquisitions, purchased in the afternoon on 31 december, when i told the staff at paron’s (in all seriousness!): “this is it! no more fabric this year….see you guys monday.”
i’m thinking of using the colette ginger as my starting point for the skirt, because mary’s skirts, although seemingly bias-cut like my 1930s number, also have a great a-line shape. also, the center back seams will give me a chance to play with some beautiful back closure details i noted from several frocks shown in the series.
for the skirts, i chose gabardine. wool crepe would also be lovely and give me the heft i was looking for, but i find it very spongy, which is not what i wanted. i’m going to underline the gabardine with organza for that extra bit of crispness and then line the skirts as well.
just to bring this incredibly long post to a close, i’ll say that during my second holiday weekend i actually managed to finish my complete to-do list, almost:
so, at last, my 2011 palette is clean. bring on 2012!