Will The Oscars Catch Downton Fever?

You can’t escape it. It peppers workplace banter, infiltrates phone calls to your mom, and your roommate will not sleep until you start watching it. Yes, Downton Abbey is everywhere.

Whether the PBS period piece lives up the hype is another thing. But the lavish costumes donned by the Crawley women each episode, never fail to amaze. Sure, some of the clothes are hand-me-downs from previous productions, and perhaps the historical accuracy is a little off, but the Edwardian dress is a breath of fresh air from the 60s-centric period pieces of late.

With The Academy Awards just a few weeks away, it will be interesting to see if the Edwardian look shows up on the red carpet. The conservative turn-of-the-century silhouette gained popularity pre-Downton with trendsetter and British singer Florence Welch.  Therefore, the collections from stand-by red carpet designers offer a plethora of Edwardian inspiration. Here’s a look at some of the Oscar contenders that even Lady Mary would proudly wear to dinner.

Bargain Bridesmaids on Gossip Girl

This past Monday, Gossip Girl aired its 100th episode — the magic number for syndication. While the quality of the show has ebbed and flowed with the past 5 seasons, the quality fashion curated by the show’s costume designer Eric Daman, remains a glamorous constant. Arguably, the expensive fashion worn by the fictional inhabitants of New York’s Upper East Side may be the only realistic aspect of the show.

But there was something a little off during the 100th episode, which was supposed to be a Royal Wedding made to rival Will and Kate’s: the bridesmaids dresses. Sure the poufy pink cocktail dresses were cute enough, it’s just that at $198 dollars, they are shockingly affordable. The dresses are part of Vera Wang’s “White” line for David’s Bridal.

Daman says it was important for the viewers at home to feel like the wedding was something accessible.  “I think when people are going into weddings and going through all that Bridezilla craziness that sometimes it’s hard to remember that you can do affordable things and, you know, style it and make it look fabulous,” Daman says in an interview for Refinery29.

This sounds more like product placement than actual concern for Gossip Girl viewers. Perhaps it would be easier to believe if Blair wasn’t decked out in a Vera Wang gown herself (the regular too-expensive-to-list-online type), and if the designer hadn’t made a cameo a few episodes back. The bargain dresses seem inconsistent with the show’s setting because the Upper East Side isn’t supposed to be accessible.

Could this be the beginning of widespread fashion product placement on television programming? Sure, product placement isn’t anything new but it’s hard to sell clothes to an audience that doesn’t recognize where to buy them. But by hyping an upcoming episode and the clothes featured in it, both the network and designer can make a buck. It won’t be surprising if there’s a “Worn on this Episode” page on The CW website soon.

Sky-High Style

Inspiration from ABC’s “Pan Am” touches down at Paris Fashion Week

Everyone loves a good costume drama. So hopes were very high when ABC launched Sunday-night TV series “Pan Am” this past fall. Set in the 1960s, the series follows the lives of some of the famed Pan Am flight attendants. But with a poorly constructed plot, the show has been a major disappointment and almost certainly won’t be returning for a second season.

The one saving grace of the show is found in the costume department. Every actress’ uniform is tailored specifically to her figure, giving her the real shape of a ‘60s woman. Off the plane, the fashion show continues as the women jet around the world. It’s swimsuits in Rangoon, mod jackets in Moscow. How do they fit it all in those cute little carry-on bags?

Naturally, with ‘60s nostalgia at fever pitch, inspiration from the show is starting to trickle down to the mainstream. Surprisingly though, the look has infiltrated the most sacred sanctum of fashion: couture. Stewardess style was the theme on the Chanel runway this past week in Paris.

Never one to scrimp on the theatricals, Karl Lagerfeld turned the runway into the interior of an über-glamorous airplane. When the show started, the plane took off and through the glass-paneled ceiling images of space passed overhead. Models strolled down the runway in 150 different shades of blue. Each model sported different variations of structured suits and streamlined dressed, complete with wind-whipped hairdos.

Though the collection wasn’t very avant-garde, the “Pan Am” theme suits the Chanel brand. The characters on “Pan Am” are unrealistically liberated for the time, from the newbie who left her fiancé at the altar for a life of adventure, to Christina Ricci’s Greenwich Village bohemian. All that stands between them and full-fledged feminism is a tricky little girdle. Coco Chanel would have approved of their lifestyle, because she too was a self-made woman.

Check out the rest of the collection over at Style.com