Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim is hosting the only West Coast appearance of the “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times” costume exhibit now through May 7.

Downton Abbey Exhibit

As the series progresses, the fashions begin to change. Sybil Crawley serves as a nurse at the local hospital during World War I, and her sister Edith trades her gowns for a linen coat and pants when helping a farmer on their estate. Photo credit: Katarina Scalise

“Dressing Downton” takes visitors on a chronological tour of the historical fashions featured in the hit television drama series, starting at the beginning of the series in 1912 and ending with its finale in 1925.

Each of the costumes in the exhibit are accompanied by a screen cap of the costume being worn in the show, along with background information about the garment and the history behind it.

“Downton Abbey” was created by actor and writer Julian Fellowes, and after the show’s premiere in 2010 it quickly became one of the most widely watched drama series in the world.

The period drama follows the aristocratic Crawley family in their efforts to secure their family’s legacy and the future of their estate, Downton Abbey.

The series examines the differences between the glamorous and extravagant lives of the upper-class in contrast to humble lives of their servants. Often referred to as the “upstairs” and the “downstairs”, respectively.

As the series continues through World War I and Britain’s changing social landscape, this contrast between the classes starts to shift and both the upstairs and the downstairs are faced with new challenges and uncertain futures.

Downton Abbey Exhibit

This informal riding habit was worn by Lady Mary in season one of “Downton Abbey” and was the first costume shown in the exhibit. Photo credit: Katarina Scalise

“The entire exhibit was stunning,” Kaitlyn Rogal said, a costume design student at Fullerton College. “To go through the costumes in chronological order was like watching the show all over again and remembering my favorite parts and all the drama that ensues.”

Mela Hoyt-Heydon, chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Fullerton College, hosted a millinery lecture and demonstration as part of the three-month exhibition at the museum on March 26.

Hoyt-Heydon is highly skilled in the art of hat-making and millinery, which refers to the designing and decoration of hats. She has designed and crafted unique hats and headwear for the entertainment industry for more than 30 years.

She, assisted by her fellow designer Asia Bell, demonstrated the hat-making and decorating techniques that were used to create hats just like the ones worn by the characters of “Downton Abbey”.

Hoyt-Heydon spoke about the historical time period, its relevance to the styles of hats worn and explained that in this era hats not only finished off the beautiful clothing ensembles, but spoke about who the characters were as individuals.

Hours of work go in to creating each hat, and Bell demonstrated how this process begins by stretching the straw or fur felt material over the wooden sizing blocks and showing how the hats begin take shape.

Millinery Lecture and Demonstration

Mela Hoyt-Heydon shows off some of her own creations during her lecture on March 26. Photo credit: Katarina Scalise

“Doing it this way is labor intensive, but it is a labor of love,” Hoyt-Heydon explained.

More of Mela Hoyt-Heydon’s work can be seen here and at her shop in Downtown Fullerton, Atelier Mela.

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