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Downton Abbey wedding inspiration: vintage decadence from the Crawley sisters

05 NOVEMBER 2012

The third season of ITV's hit period-drama marked the brink of the jazz age as old customs and costumes were thrown up for 1920's glamour. But nowhere was this apparent more than in the gorgeously decadent wedding of Lady Mary to Matthew Crawley, heir of Downton Abbey.

Known for her lavish taste, Lady Mary once remarked that her dresses "cost twice the national debt". And her character's wedding gown designed for actress Michelle Dockery in the TV series was noted to be the most expensive costume made by Caroline McCall for the show, estimated at no less than £4,000.

 

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But it's easy to see why, as Lady Mary's showstopping piece was lavished with intricate detail and trimmed with "scallops of lace and edged in tiny rice pearls and Swarovski crystal beads" as disclosed by the designer.

Proving that detail matters, Michelle looked breathtaking as she glided down the steps of Downton's grand staircase towards Hugh Bonneville who play's Mary's father. Glistening as the light caught the reflection of the gown's silver thread, the gowns delicate charms also added to the bride's subtle iridescent look.

But with not only one, but two, Downton weddings during the latest series, brides up and down the country were offered up a wealth of old-English inspiration for their own big day.

 

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Long gone were Victorian corsets or meringue-style skirts which Downton’s Emmy award-winning costume designer made sure to replace with the elegance of flowing silks forming more demure shift dresses.

Caroline McCall revealed that the "key to both Lady Mary’s and Lady Edith’s wedding dresses is that they are so soft, they drape so beautifully" as opposed to the taut crepe silks that were previously in fashion.

But despite the modest structure which fitted Laura Carmichael's frame perfectly as her character Edith sauntered down the aisle, the piece was set off with an antique wedding train and handstitched appliqué of intricate silver embroidery and crystals that drew in the dress at the hip.

Perfectly complenting this silver motif was the stunning heirloom tiara shared by both actresses as their character's embarked upon marriage. A true vintage piece, the £125,000 beautiful diamond-encrusted tiara in the shape of a garland of leaves with little floral buds was created by royal jewellers Bentley & Skinner.

Working in collaboration with the Downton team, the artisans altered the dazzling, 45-carat Georgian tiara, which was set in white gold, yellow gold and silver to perfectly top off the girls' timeless wedding looks.

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