What to expect at the Downton Abbey exhibition in Singapore
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1. Complete character study
Get reacquainted with characters throughout the series with panels that present each character, the context he or she lived in as well as personal effects worn by the actors themselves. On Lady Rose's character panel, you'll learn about the lifestyle of 1920s London and how this informed the socialite, played by Lily James. Observe the jewellery worn by flapper girls of the time, as well as the Lady Rose's engagement ring. Meanwhile, Matthew Crawley gets you up close to the realities facing middle class men as well as the stories around the World War. You'll also get to see the toy dog given to the lawyer by Lady Mary Crawley before he left for war. Audio sets — fashioned similarly like old telephone receivers — throughout the panels allow you to hear excerpts from the show. Of course, the Dowager Countess gets an entire section dedicated to her.
2. Greetings from the servants
Playing into the interactive elements of the exhibition, a projection of Carson himself occasionally shows up, greeting you before you enter certain sections of the exhibition. We loved how they roped actor Jim Carter to get back into character and film the dialogue exclusive to the exhibition — as guests from the 21st Century, you'll even surprise him with your modern-day clothes.
3. Life-sized sets and sounds
Highlights include the servants' dining quarters, where the drama's in all the details: The call bells, the sewing machine and even tea laid out on the dining table. There's also a replica of the servants' staircase that comes with a mirror at the bottom, positioned so that servants made sure they looked appropriate for the household. Mrs. Patmore's kitchen is a delight to see, with dialogue and sound effects from the kitchenware played in the set, while pies and ingredients are left as though the matron of the kitchen had just taken a short break. You'll also get to see the stylish kimono and undergarments worn by Lady Mary Crawley in her bedroom, with details such as a hairdryer and curling tongs that will wow vintage collectors. The main dining room — which can be hired for private or corporate events — is recreated right down to the menu cards, place settings and grand paintings that dress the walls. A helpful video educates us commoners on etiquette as well.
4. A lesson in period dressing
Some styles never get old, and for good reason. Slinky slip dresses, loosened waists, fuller skirts and materials such as lace, tulle and metallics are still seen to this day. Of course, ladies of leisure Cora Crawley, Lady Mary Crawley and Edith Pelham were the first to front these styles in the 1910s and 1920s. The allure of the Orient also features in the women's detailed dresses. You'll see over 50 costumes worn by Downton Abbey's characters up close, and perhaps get inspired to inject a little Downton flair in your step.
5. Something to take home
Let's be honest: An exhibition is only as good as the merchandise that retails at the very end. Downton Abbey's loot doesn't disappoint. From tongue-in-cheek tees and mugs emblazoned with iconic phrases such as "What is a weekend" to old-school aprons you'd wear for both the kitchen and Halloween, there's something that will convert anyone into a full-time Downton Abbey fan at home. Cook with Mrs. Patmore's kitchenware or set up an English tea session with fruit cakes, shortbreads, biscuits and jams you can pick up from the exhibition. Of course, a copy of A-Z of Modern Manners is a must-read for you act the part.
Till 31 July. Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Hall F, before travelling through the US in 2018.
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