Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Vintage TV: The House of Eliott

I've been feeling distinctly under the weather the last few days; achey, stuck in bed and miserable.  Proper cup of tea and an old movie while feeling sorry for myself ill.  OK, that's my usual mood, but you know what I mean.  I get sick at about the same time every year, I am sure it has something to do with the suddenly rainy weather making the Hackney miasma more easily transported into the lungs.

As such, I was in desperate need of something pretty to look at.  Ideally something pretty to look at and essentially non taxing.  this was  no time for trying to work out a whodunit so Poirot and miss Lemon would have to wait.  After a scout about the Internet I fixed on The House of Eliott.

The show was broadcast in the early 1990s and I vaguely recall my aunt being a fan at the time.  Written by Dame Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh (is she not a Dame yet...tsk) - yes - them what wrote the original Upstairs, Downstairs, it had a good enough pedigree to be guaranteed entertainment.  Plus all available online for free courtesy of the BBC.  What luck!

Episode 1, Series 1.

The story hinges around well to do sisters, Beatrice and Evangeline Eliott (Bea and Evie for short), whose overbearing Papa dies and leaves them all but destitute - have squandered his money on the usual foibles.  The ladies have always been interested in fashion and, through a mix of talent, connections and sheer dumb luck they manage to create a successful fashion house - changing the face of London fashion in the process.  Of course there are plenty of twists and turns along the way in the shape of love, death, swindling bankers and even Amber from the Broken Hearts (joke - but really - Grace in series 3 in the absolute spit of that fine modern day fashionista.

The first two series come in at twelve episodes each and the third and final at just 10, though the ending feels inconclusive. It seems the series was pulled due to budgetary issues.  Unsurprising given the clearly expensive wardrobe.

Unexpectedly, it wasn't the classic bead gowns that caught my eye.  Perhaps it was the cold weather outside but I found myself drawn to the amazing wardrobe of 20s coats and cloches on display.  Here are some of my favourites.

Tilly, the classic stalwart working class heroine in a love two tone coat and matching hat.
Bea and Evie.  Bea in a delicious eau de nil number with collar and cuff detail and Evie with a belted jacket with richly embroidered sleeves.

The girls in some fur collared beauties

A bit part character - can't for the life of me remember
her name, in the most crazy fur collared number.

I was also in raptures at the headdresses and scarves on display, and now quite determined to wear more scarves myself.  I tend to only do the classic 40s landgirl thing but some of these are great.

I love Bea's chunky turban style headwrap.

This sort of "diadem"style headband is absolutely stunning.  I'm thinking about making something similar with some seashells and some broken faux pearl necklaces I have laying around.
I only wish I were talented enough to craft something like this, just wonderful

More thick wraps from Bea and pearl headdresses from Evie

A casual scarf look from Evie

Despite the rather unfinished feel of the end of the show I would still thoroughly recommend this series for the fashion alone. The weather is shocking, so stick the kettle on and immerse yourself in beads.