Downton Abbey: How dresses in ITV hit have been recycled from other major films

Hand me Downton: How dresses in ITV hit have been recycled from other major films Gowns and accessories previously worn by stars including Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson and Catherine Zeta-Jones 'You can’t supply originals to everyone
because it would make an already expensive programme simply
unaffordable', says costumier Tim Angel

Despite the second series boasting a 12 million price tag, behind-the-scenes Downton Abbey has enforced some cost saving tactics.

Attentive viewers have spotted that ITV's flagship show has secretly been recycling hand-me-down costumes from old period dramas in a bid to cut costs.

Many of the sumptuous gowns and accessories worn by the programme's leading ladies have previously clothed the likes of Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson and Catherine Zeta-Jones in classic screenplays ranging from Howard's End to A Room With A View.

Floral

Floral

Floral

Spot the difference Emma Thompson in 1992 film Howard's End, Catherine Zeta Jones in 2007 thriller Death Defying Acts and Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey wear the same floral shirt

According to Katie Bugg, a designer who runs Recycledmoviecostumes.com this is common practice on expensive productions to ensure budgets don't overrun.

She states: 'Recycled movie costumes are gowns that often appear in one production and then go on to be used in another.

'Many
movies have very small costume budgets, which means that instead of
making all of the costumes, the designer is forced to rent costumes from
a costume house.

'Sometimes costumes are altered significantly to give it a new look, and
sometimes the dress is used as it appeared for the first time.'

In one scene Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley in the hit Edwardian drama, wears a floral blouse first seen on actress Emma Thompson in 1992 film Howard's End.

The same costume is also worn by Catherine Zeta Jones as Mary McGarvie in the supernatural romantic thriller Death Defying Acts.

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In Downtown Abbey, Michelle Dockery (right) recycles a gown previously seen in Finding Neverland in 2004

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Dockery (right) wears an elaborate black choker worn by Monica Bellucci in the film Brotherhood Of The Wolf

It is not the only costume shared by Zeta Jones and Dockery.

The Downton actress recycles a red dress worn by the Welsh Actress in the same 2007 film opposite Guy Pearce.

Continuing the trend, Dockery wears a fetching silky green dress
with sheer arms, a frock that had previously been worn by Radha
Mitchell when portraying the wife of Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie in
Finding Neverland in 2004.

And on a separate occasion, she is seen in an elaborate black choker so
distinctive that viewers remembered Monica Bellucci wearing the same
accessory in the film Brotherhood Of The Wolf almost a decade
ago.

Tim Angel, whose costume firm Angels
provided many of Downtown Abbey’s frocks, said: ‘I would say around
two-thirds of the costumes you see in Downton are from stock and have
been used before.

'There
is nothing wrong with that. You can’t supply originals to everyone
because it would make an already expensive programme simply
unaffordable.’

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Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, adorns a similar outfit to Uma Thurman in The Golden Bowl

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Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham appears in a long-sleeved, teal silk dress (right) also worn by Thurman in the 2000 film, The Golden Bowl

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The frock worn by Laura Carmichael (right) was worn by Elaine Cassidy in the 2007 hit A Room With A View

Dockery is not the only actress that has been caught out by eagle-eyed viewers.

Elizabeth McGovern,
who plays Cora Crawley, adorns a very similar outfit to Uma Thurman's
character in The Golden Bowl, although the gown appears to have been
altered slightly by dressmakers.

Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham also appears in a long-sleeved, teal silk dress. as worn by Thurman in the same 2000 film.

And if viewers felt they were familiar with the ivory summer dress worn by Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, archive pictures reveal why.

The dress had appeared three years earlier, in 2007, on Lucy Honeychurch, played by Elaine Cassidy, whose story was detailed in A Room with a View – a drama also shown on ITV.

Despite the cost cutting measure, some characters, such as Samantha Bond’s Lady Rosamund Painswick, were dressed entirely in outfits hired from outside.

Recycledmoviecostumes.com, showcases many similar examples from other period dramas.

One brown dress has appeared in seven productions over the past
15 years, including Pride & Prejudice, Vanity Fair, Little Dorrit
and The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister.

Meanwhile, a yellow ball gown created for the 1994 film The Madness
Of King George has made six more appearances, one of them in a 2006
episode of Doctor Who.

Downton Abbey, which tells the story of a fictional estate in North Yorkshire, first aired in September 2010 and has since been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.

A third season will be broadcast in September this year.

Downton Abbey, which tells the story of a fictional estate in North Yorkshire, first aired in September 2010 and has since been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards

Downton Abbey, which tells the story of a fictional estate in North Yorkshire, first aired in September 2010 and has since been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards