V307: The House of Elliot – 1920s in the 1990s

Vintage Dancer turned me onto an early ’90s series called “The House of Eliott,” for which I have nothing but obsession and love.  I was the ripe age of eight when this series came out, but better late than never, 21 years on (because I’m sure a rather large chunk of you have already seen it and I’m late to the party).

There are so many things to love about this series.  It’s the story of two sisters who are left with nothing when their father dies, and end up supporting themselves by taking sewing commissions.  This turns into a business – The House of Eliott – and by the end of season 1, they have become London couturiers.  Go figure.

The whole thing is shot in rather a theatrical way, and the dialogue is honest, straight-forward, and BBC-perfect, but it’s not off-putting.  I rather like the refreshing dose of stage-like drama versus the nitty-gritty “realism” of today’s television.

Most importantly, the clothes.  I don’t know for certain, but I suspect The House of Eliott used original 1920s garments, shoes, and hats.  The clothing is just so dang authentic, the kind of authentic that modern productions skip-over in favor of a more modernly-acceptable “flapper” look (ironic, since the real couture gowns of the 1920s are *far* more modern even by today’s standards).  Not so in “The House of Eliott,” though.  Everything from the suits to the evening gowns is simply stunning – it’s like watching Poiret’s, Chanel’s, or Lanvin’s illustrations come to life.

It also makes me want to sew some stunning 1920s evening gowns, as if I possess any such skill.  There is plenty of inspiration to be had in “House of Eliott” – it seems like they’re all out in sparkly gowns at least once every episode, and it makes me sad to realize that we have such a degree of casualness these days that wearing something so fine to go out to dinner would seem bizarre.  Even wearing some of the splendid suits and daywear the Eliott sister sport would be overdressing by today’s standards.  How sad. ๐Ÿ™

It’s a bit early to think about it, but perhaps a good New Year’s resolution for 2013 would be … wear nicer clothes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, check out “The House of Eliott”
when you get a chance.

31 Comments

  • Sandrine

    November 4, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Thank you for posting about this!! My sewing teacher told me about it once, and I forgot the name and I was looking for it everywhere!
    Woohoo, new serie to watch!

    Reply
  • Terry M

    November 4, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Loved it the first time round, but I may have to dig it out and watch it again, because yes, so much eye candy! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm right there with you about the modern blah of dressy clothes. I'm still shaking my head and wondering when jersey knit became evening wear. It's absolutely revolting what passes for acceptable level of dress, especially in what used to be considered a dress for event. It's like most of the population has given up completely and can't stand to be parted from their yoga pants. (Saw a woman wearing them at the theatre a few months ago, and no, it WASN'T a Wednesday matinee.)

    Reply
    • Lauren Stowell

      November 7, 2012 at 12:05 AM

      I am wondering if fashion will swing back to at least some level of formality in the future…hoping…gosh, I'll probably be dead by then ๐Ÿ™

      Reply
  • Laura Morrigan

    November 5, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    I have always wanted to see this! I really love some of the period pieces made in the 90s. Also I love how 80s and early 90s fashion recreated other historical eras, I have a few nice pieces to show for it!

    Reply
    • Lauren Stowell

      November 7, 2012 at 12:05 AM

      I agree! It makes it easier to lay your hands on something that could be worked into a 40s dress, or be a Victorian shirtwaist. Thanks, 1980s and 90s!

      Reply
  • Miss Elizabeth Bennet

    November 5, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    I loved watching this show! My mom and I had such fun watching it. The costuming is amazing! I really need to rewatch it again. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Reply
  • Anastasia

    November 5, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    I am really in love with show! I still have one more season to go, and I keep putting it off to make it last longer. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Has anyone ever noticed how this show is very Sense & Sensibility? You have two sisters, a sensible older one and a sensitive younger one; and the younger one always falls for the wrong man. They have to leave their family home and lose all their money when their father dies. And they have a few conniving and unpleasant relatives.

    Reply
  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    November 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    French and Saunders did a very funny spoof of it that is only funny if you've watched enough of it to get the different characters. It's on youtube. I love this series and some of the costumes from it are finding their way onto Downton Abbey's third series!

    Reply
  • garofit

    November 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Yes, one of my all time favorites, absolutely amazing costumes, watched it twice already and probably will do many more times. I especially like the "everyday" clothing shown although you see some beautiful evening and occasion wear too. Gutted it didn't last enough to cover the 30's as well!!!

    Reply
    • Lauren Stowell

      November 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      I loved the everyday suits and things as well. It makes me want to sortof dress that smartly now, as if we could get away with it hehe

      Reply
  • AuntieNan

    November 5, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    The amazing thing I always loved was that the character Bea comes up with the idea of turning her father's silk vests and fine linen shirts into a "menswear" line for herself and her sister as they go about finding jobs! That was the hook for me — because back in the Depression my grandma once made herself a Sunday suit out of an old worn one of my granddad's. NOW THAT WAS TAILORING!!
    Enjoy — Stella Gonet is just one of my favorite actors of all time,
    Nancy N

    Reply
  • violet ~ creme

    November 5, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    I'm so glad more people are finding the show!

    I have an article from the time that says the clothes were often based on original designs or pieces the wardrobe designers had, but re-made to fit the 'modern' shapes, i.e.. Aden is very tall and broad, the girls' shoe sizes were too big etc. Sometimes it's original fabrics too, one of my fave dresses from S3 (the cream one from 3×03) was an original 20's tablecloth! I'll happily scan in the article if you're interested.

    I am a massive geek, for the show but also for the Jack & Bea relationship which is one of my favourites of all time.

    Reply
    • Lauren Stowell

      November 7, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      That makes so much sense, and also I could see how that would make House Of Eliott a very costly production, if they were having these items made. WOW, though, and inspirational, to be sure. I also love the Jack/Beatrice relationship…just so…loooovely ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  • Vivcore

    November 6, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Oh my gosh! I used to watch this with my mum every week and dream about wearing the dresses! I had almost forgotten about the show but seeing this is making me want to watch it all over again ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • M'lady

    November 10, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Love the show. Missed it first time around but recently caught the re-peats on TV. It always makes me want to make a 20's dress. Actually planning a 20's inspired pinafore dropped waist dress for winter to go with my cloche hat and a longsleeved jumper.

    Reply

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