The New Year delivers its first cultural treat this weekend when the fifth season of “Downton Abbey” debuts on Sunday night on PBS. And while many Americans fell in love with the series’ Edwardian style—and charming, buttoned-up fussiness—the years have passed with each season so now we find ourselves in 1924, the heart of the Roaring Twenties. Whether they want to admit it or not, the Crawley family and their devoted—if idiosyncratic—household staff are ensconced in an era that feels and looks different from the series’ turn-of-the-century roots.
For the first time in Britain’s history, a Socialist government is in power (much to Robert Crawley’s dismay). Not only does the leadership push for less disparity between the aristocrats and the working class, but the burgeoning middle class is also adopting the customs of their aristocratic counterparts. What’s more, women of the ‘20s are less demure than their predecessors, and some of their boldness is now reflected in fashion: Necklines are deeper; hems, shorter.
As the Jazz Age flourishes, other cultural changes are afoot: Modernism is taking root across Europe and surprising traditionalists with its pared-down, austere look. In Germany, the Bauhaus school is thriving on its concept of uniting architecture, painting, and sculpture into a single creative endeavor. Abstractions and minimalism—as well as a focus on unconventional materials—help define the Bauhaus approach. And though the Crawleys don’t know it yet, the Art Deco movement will have its beginning in Paris in 1925, during the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. The design style will be characterized by angular, geometric forms, and in its heyday, will define a new type of luxury and glamour.
With all this historical visual richness, it’s no wonder that “Downton Abbey” is TV’s prettiest drama. If you can’t wait to take in the splendor of 1920s Britain, feast your eyes on this collection, inspired by the Roaring Twenties and the beauty of the early 20th century.
1. English Chippendale Style Window Seat | 2. 1920s Terrestrial School Globe
3. English Coach Lantern | 4. English Silver Plated Condiment Set
5. English Ebony Ladies Traveling Set | 6. English Blue Glazed Terra Cotta Urns
7. English Chinoiserie Style Painted Chest of Drawers