Does Your Group Need a Guest Speaker?

Because of the popularity of the British period drama Downton Abbey, Cornelia is in demand for her entertaining costume talks with PowerPoint presentations centering around the program's costumes and their award-winning designers. She was the featured speaker in the spring of 2014 at the prestigious Winterthur Museum during their "Costumes of Downton Abbey" exhibition and at Biltmore House in Asheville, NC during their "Dressing Downton" exhibit recently. 

Below are descriptions of the main two Downton Abbey costume talks, plus a new presentation that describes "the London Season" (including Downton characters and costumes) as well as two talks inspired by Cornelia's new book featuring Princess Diana's influence on modern weddings. 

(Contact Cornelia to get all the details.)

The Brides of Downton Abbey

What were Downton Abbey’s costume designer’s inspirations behind those 1920-styled, shimmering and romantic wedding gowns for Mary and Edith? What would Cora and Violet have worn as fashionable, aristocratic Victorian-era brides? 

Combining stories of wedding folklore, tiara legends, being presented at Court, and royal brides along with intriguing bits of fashion history (including what Vogue said about a bride’s décolletage), Cornelia Powell’s presentation is full of beautiful images and delightful commentary with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the Downton Abbey costumers themselves (who reveal how it all comes together!)

 ~ ~ ~

The Costume Designs of Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is not the first British period costume drama—beautifully lit and impeccably staged—that shares a story well-told teasing out the tensions and the intimacies between an aristocratic family and the downstairs staff who serve them. However, as we watch from a modern world dearly in need of more etiquette and grace, the sumptuous look and relational feel of the show (including those fabulous clothes) simply draw us in!

Full of lovely images of costumes sometimes hard-to-see on the screen plus compelling commentary with behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Cornelia Powell’s presentation charms a variety of audiences. She shows how Downton Abbey’s costume designers—gifted women who all share a passion for luscious texture, vintage accuracy and attention to detail—beautifully “translate” fashions from these historically pivotal times when the world was becoming modern in a thousand dazzling ways.

~ ~ ~

3. DEBUTANTES & DOWNTON: American Heiresses Do 'The London Season'

Cora Crawley, the fictional Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey, represents one of many real American “Buccaneers”—the daughters of wealthy American industrialists who married British Lords in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a “cash for class” exchange. These sparkling young heiresses did “The London Season” showing off their million-dollar Worth wardrobes, dazzled the Old World with their New World riches as well as their spirited confidence, married in opulent wedding ceremonies, and saved the grand old country houses around Great Britain and their aristocratic way of life—at least for a while.

This gilded American legacy—that has come to life through the popularity of British costume drama Downton Abbey—brought the world such compelling personalities as Winston Churchill, Lady Diana Spencer and king-to-be Prince William. Using hundreds of beautiful images, Cornelia Powell tells an irresistible version of this glittering history through stories of sumptuous fashion, presentations at royal court, legendary tiaras and princely affairs. The author, wedding folklorist and costume historian entertains audiences around the country with her Downton Abbey costume talks.


4. For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding

In the middle of the nineteenth century, “the custom-made, white wedding, with all the frills we know so well,” explained British historian Ann Monsarrat, came together “to make the great tradition.” Launched by Queen Victoria’s all-white, orange-blossom nuptials in 1840 with their sentimental ethos, brides and their wedding-planning mothers followed suit for over a hundred years, using “all the ingredients we now think of as virtually indispensable to a white wedding.”

But this “great white wedding” and its beloved traditions of fancy costumes, cakes and rituals—as well as its “immense and highly organized industry”—could have all flamed out in the purple haze of the counterculture revolution of the late 1960s and ‘70s if not for Lady Diana Spencer’s charismatic appeal as a royal bride during her wedding to a prince in the summer of 1981. Therefore, for better or worse, helped along with a little Reaganomics as well as society’s need for order and tradition with a dash of “all that glitters” obsession, “the great white wedding” comes back from the brink in the 1980s even more opulent and universally appealing than ever. And the white bridal gown, as curator and author Eleanor Thompson shared, was its “ubiquitous standard-bearer.”

In this presentation, full of intriguing stories and beautiful images, Cornelia Powell shares stories and descriptions from her new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. The book explores the lasting influence of an archetypal princess on the world of weddings: the fashion and the fairy tale, the superficial and the divine. And this presentation expands the narrative into an entertaining pictorial history of “the great white wedding” and its continued allure for modern couples of all stripes—including nostalgic brides and grooms to same-sex partners.
                                                          ~ ~ ~

5. The Language of Flowers & Diamonds {excerpt from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride}

“We knew that we wanted Diana to have a large bouquet,” explained gown designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. “The scale of the dress meant that a small one would have simply disappeared.” The massive, yet delicate and lyrical, shower-style arrangement designed by Longmans—an old established florist in London—became the fashion after Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding, replacing the smaller and sometimes less imaginative bridal bouquets. Of course, most things in the high-flying, shoulder-padded 1980s were on a grander scale!

This excerpt from Chapter Five of Volume One of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride opens this presentation which then continues with delightful stories and beautiful images of royal wedding bouquets, floral-enhanced gowns, grand diamond tiaras and whimsical wax orange blossom wreathsand the Queens and Princesses who wore them as hopeful brides.

                                                                        ~ ~ ~

Contact Cornelia to get more details on her Downton Abbey costume talks as well as her latest presentations featuring stories from her new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

No comments:

Post a Comment