Tag Archives: television

As Dashing as Downton

Were you as excited as I was for Downton Abbey’s season 3 premiere on Sunday? 7.9 million Americans tuned in and frankly, it’s the only thing that some of my friends can talk about.

Imege: Gregory Han

I’m really not surprised that Downton has become such a hit. In addition to the often scandalous plots, every frame is a feast for the eyes, filled with luscious Edwardian fashion and décor.

Image: Tulle & Trinkets

Image: What the Frock

Fashion blogs have exploded with posts on how to incorporate little touches from the Teens and Twenties for a retro yet forward-thinking wardrobe inspired by Lady Mary, Edith, and Sybil.

Image: The English Room

And don’t think that designers haven’t taken note of the fashionistas’ interest in vintage. Don’t believe me?

Image: My Grace

Image: Fab Sugar

Take a look at Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2012 collection. He readily admits that he is a fan of the show and both his couture gowns and menswear-inspired separates clearly reflect its influence.

Image: Haute Indoor Couture

The Abbey is also starting to influence the interior design world. While no one is recommending the over-the-top decadence of Edwardian décor, the addition of a few key pieces can be quite chic.

Image: 47 Park Avenue

I adore this Edwardian Sheraton mahogany dentist’s cabinet placed in 47 Park Avenue’s dressing room. It has the exquisite craftsmanship characteristic on the period and balances the otherwise stark modernism of the room.

Image: fanpop!

Authentic Edwardian furniture can be hard to find (and incredibly pricey).  Thankfully, furniture designers are also getting caught up in the excitement and producing knock-offs and modern interpretations.

Image: Anthropologie

I can just imagine moping like Mary in Anthropologie’s Marjorie Chair, though it would be difficult to stay sad with such a perky colour choice. There’s nothing old-fashioned about this cheerful terra cotta!

Image: Living in Color

If investment pieces aren’t in your budget, consider a trip back in time via local antique or thrift shops. Small antique perfume bottles, vases, and other trinkets will help to instill your space with a little Edwardian glamour. And don’t forget colour! Living in Color finds some Downton-appropriate hues in the Benjamin Moore Historical Colour series, while Gregory Han mimics the manor with Farrow and Ball paints.

Image: Your 4 Walls

It seems like almost every inch of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, is covered in Damask wallpaper. However, in less grand settings this choice can look dowdy. Unless, of course, you pick a thoroughly modern palette; then it just looks awesome.

Are you in love with Downton? Enough to embrace Edwardian in your personal style? I’d love to hear about your take on this trend.

Posted in Design, Fashion | Tagged , ,

Fairy Tales Are For Grown-Ups

Disney's Snow White

Fairy tales aren’t for kids. If illustrators stayed faithful to the dark themes of their plots, we’d have been exposed to gruesome reading that is galaxies away from the cutesy storybooks we grew up with. Think about it. They are riddled with evil plots, murderous schemes, injustice, violence.

Remember the parents who left Hansel and Gretel in the woods to die, and the witch who wanted to bake them? How about the wolf who ate up Little Red Riding Hood’s granny? Or the Little Match Girl who froze to her death, and Pinocchio whose punishment for dishonesty was deformity? And how about the Little Mermaid, whose every step hurt like a thousand swords, and who was asked to slay her beloved so she could live?

Disney interpretations, already sterilized as they are, still have truly terrifying moments. My first movie experience was Snow White, and I remember having nightmares about the scene in the woods after the huntsman’s failed attempt to kill her.

So let’s take a look at those fairy tales again. We’ll probably get a kick out of the underlying sex and violence that we probably were oblivious to the first time we read them, but let’s look beyond those. Even when we grow up and cynically scoff at the improbability of happily-ever-afters, revisiting these tales as adults allows us to appreciate them more fully, bringing us deeper into the allegories that they usually are. We may think that they’re predictable, but they could still surprise us by bringing to the surface certain themes we did not know they had — metaphysical themes of morality and immortality, of self-sacrifice and identity.

Have you noticed the word’s renewed fascination for fairy tales? Writers, filmmakers, and composers have discovered the treasures in their depths and have commenced the mining.


Beauty's Punishment

Some novelists like expand on or reinterpret fairy tales. Anne Rice, an author famous for her vampire chronicles, wrote her Sleeping Beauty Trilogy under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release. Now these books are definitely not for kids, nor for faint-hearted adults, as they are BDSM erotica novels.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Author Gregory Maguire likes to give readers new perspectives on classic tales, often switching around the protagonist and antagonist roles in his characters. His Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is told from the point-of-view of Cinderella’s younger stepsister. Mirror, Mirror is a revision of the Snow White tale which incorporates actual historical figures in the story, such as Lucrezia Borgia, whom he cast as the Evil Queen and Stepmother. His Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on Frank Baum’s novel, is now a Stephen Schwartz Broadway musical, Wicked.

An illustration from King Golden hair

And just last week I read an article about the discovery of 500 new fairy tales in Germany, which were collected by one Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. These myths, legends, and tales he drew from common countryfolk in long ago Bavaria, and recorded them faithfully. He didn’t edit or embellish them, and so reading them will be like a glimpse into a culture hundreds of years in the past.


Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake have been well-loved ballets for more than a century already. Same with Hansel and Gretel, which is also an opera. But Wicked is a fairly new musical. And Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, have also been adapted for the stage.


Once Upon a Time is a television series that is set in a fictitious town in Maine, that serves as a kind of limbo that all the fairy tale characters are exiled to. It revolves around the conflict between Snow White and the Evil Queen and incorporates a different fairy tale in each episode, oftentimes intersecting two or more. I love the well-crafted back stories to the fairy tales, and how the characters they translate to “modern” times.

And then there’s Grimm, which is a police-series-meets-fairy-tales kind of show.


Fairy tales are so inherently cinematic, so why shouldn’t they be in the movies? I can’t even count how many fairy tale movies have been made…

I loved Enchanted! It’s a wonderful amalgamation of the classic romantic fairy tales juxtaposed with the harsh reality of New York City. It’s amazing how these two seemingly incongruous realities mix so beautifully in this movie.

And wow, two Snow White movies are to be released this year — and within 3 months of each other! Add that to the TV Snow White, that’s a lot. Hope we don’t overdose.


That’s it for fairy tales, for now. I haven’t even started on nursery rhymes!

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