Anglophiles are ecstatic over “Downton Abbey,” and why not. The series, now in its fifth season with another already commissioned, has its own recaps in the Washington Post and women everywhere are enthralled. “It’s so … Downton,” said one surveying a department store jewelry counter to her friend.
It’s hard to argue with success. Admirers of all things English are nostalgic for Edwardian elegance in an age of exercise wear and email, or perhaps just for manners. Manners held the old order in place: ritual, moral correctness and glorious formality. If you slipped, society fell apart. Clothes mattered in their every detail and the more impractical and extravagantly elaborate, the better. “I don’t have to work” was the message — bowling gloves, dinner gloves, riding gloves — oh, and stand up straight and avoid hugging.
While it’s true, men should never have quit wearing riding breeches, others are quick to criticize our cousins across the ocean for classicism and snobbery. Yet anyone familiar with American socialite and author Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” knows American high society made the English look tame as afternoon tea. Good manners and the proper social façade only hid the fact our upper classes often focused on gossip, pretense, stealing and adultery.
But as Lady Grantham would say, let’s not be vulgar. “Downton Abbey” is epic themes — birth, death, love and life — in period costumes, and you can take part with “Downton Abbey” tea, tea cups, stationery, jewelry, candelabras, toys, lamps and, for the gents, “Downton Abbey” claret. So, pour yourself a glass and enjoy. By the way, Prince Charles and Camilla arrived recently to tour the U.S.
That should sober you up.
The Big Easy
Ain’t no party like a Nawlins party. Presbytère in the French Quarter hosted a VIP Patron cocktail bash showcasing “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy: Two Carnival Artists” as a kickoff to New Orleans Fashion Week and beyond. Sponsored by Moans Couture, Friends of the Cabildo, et al, upstairs was rocking to Dr. Bone and the Hepcats while taking in the vintage carnival sketches of Helen Clark Warren and John C. Scheffler. Curator of Costumes Wayne Phillips welcomed everyone, New Orleans Fashion Week creative director Tracee Dundas directed them and uber-costume designer Bruce Bergeron got credit for Bourbon Street 2015 best-in-show winners Troy Powell and Tommy Stubblefield, who second-lined one more time. What we loved: More like what didn’t we? Gabrielle Lewis with her athletic stripe, pearls and black tulle, and Fashion Week emcee Carlyn Goodwin.
Here they go again, my, my, how can we resist them? Chorale Acadienne paid tribute to bygone decades with their annual “Moonlight and Music” serenade and fundraiser. The Petroleum Club played host, and the auction item-with-the-most was a signature piece designed by Julie Bush. “It’s etched with the Chorale logo and the four diamonds were donated and set by Artisan Jewelers,” said Bush. “If you can draw it, I can etch it.” We believe her, and if you can remember it, they sang it, including “Dancing Queen” and “I Have a Dream.” Living the nostalgia: Beth Finch, Sylvia Turner, Ana Leger, Parisa and Michael Liu, and Dr. Wartelle Castille. We love a man in a seersucker suit.
Junior League holds social
The Junior League of Lafayette welcomed spring with a sustainer social at the Mill Valley Road home of Debra Mahoney. And while City Club chef Alex Chaillot’s catering menu was the talk of the moment, so was the League’s new Tinsel & Treasures logo — two Ts brought together to form a gift, with a heart on top as a bow. The symbolic new image will be on display come next September. Sustainers are esteemed members who’ve passed on their knowledge to the newbies, and among those enjoying their homage along with some excellent cream of asparagus soup were Beth Finch, Bobbi Mendez, Jacquelyn Jenkins, Pam Stroup, Judy Kennedy, Elaine Abell and Elaine Mann, who started cotillion in Lafayette.