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'Downton Abbey' Goes From Runaway Hit to Runway Couture

In the wake of its runaway success, designers Ralph Lauren and L'Wren Scott soaked up the show's aesthetic and applied it to their upcoming collections.

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Remember the year that runways were all about Mad Men? Early sixties shirtwaists with big colorful prints - exactly what Peggy Olsen would have been wearing at the time. Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera went crazy for the sixties ensembles on the AMC show and transferred them to the catwalk, turning the clock forward on retro looks, proving everything old is new again - especially when it's on a hit tv show with good visuals by a costume designer like Janey Bryant.

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So many television shows have influenced the world of high fashion, from Sex and the City (and Carrie's crazy combinations - and her footwear) to Boardwalk Empire. And now, of course, it's all about Downton Abbey. Season One of the English drawingroom drama drew in fans via word of mouth, and Season Two turned it into a bona fide phenomenon, prompting countless publications to do stories on it as viewers sing its praises. Not only is it a welcome respite from big budget, big-screen spectacle,  it's quickly infiltrated and influenced designers, who can immerse themselves in its detailed design on a weekly basis.

At New York fashion week, hints of Downton turned up in interesting locations: Ralph Lauren, always the Anglophile, did a full-fledged homage to it in his fall 2012 collection, combining the masculine and feminine of the English Edwardian scene as he dressed women in both mens' wool chalkstripe three piece suits, complete with chain watches, and long gowns and long beads.

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Designer L'Wren Scott, associated with modernist designs thanks to her tributes to English countryside fashion, moved away the tight sheath cocktail dresses she produced in the past and assembled velvet gowns with elaborate collars. As her models strut down the runway with marcel-waved 1920's hair, the rich reds, purples and burgundies of her ensembles further reflected the Downton aesthetic. Of course, she also might have benefited from more immediate inspiration: she and boyfriend and benefactor Mick Jagger probably reside in a house not far from the real Downton Abbey.

What do you think?

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