Anna Rob­bins

‘Down­ton Abbey’

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - Cal­en­dar@la­

Lady Rose (Lily James) wears Rob­bins’ fa­vorite dress when the young aris­to­crat gets mar­ried in the Sea­son 5 fi­nale.

A vin­tage “vir­ginal” piece, Rob­bins found the shim­mer­ing bridal gown when a Lon­don tai­lor told her about some­thing “in­cred­i­bly spe­cial” and got out a big box that had been packed away. “And when I first saw it, the hair on the back of my arms just sort of went up,” Rob­bins says. “And to make it even bet­ter, the dress fit her like a glove. We didn’t have to do very much to it at all.

“The dress had never been worn — it was prob­a­bly made for some­body and then the wed­ding had never taken place — so all th­ese years later, it gets its day in the sun.” Lu­mi­nous on top, and nearly 100 years old, it’s a sump­tu­ously beaded tulle gown. Rob­bins says they found an amaz­ing creamy silk to go un­der­neath it.

Her big chal­lenge is “the vast num­ber of changes we have for the cast dur­ing the day — at that time, aris­to­cratic women changed into seven full out­fits daily — and then you look at the num­ber of ac­tors in the en­sem­ble cast and it’s a mas­sive scale,” she says of the sheer num­ber of pe­riod cos­tumes needed for a sin­gle shoot.

“So we do very, very quick turn­arounds, but the stan­dards are very, very high. So, yes, I guess there’s pres­sure, but it’s no more pres­sure than I put on my­self. And see­ing things come from noth­ing into some­thing — a piece of scrap or an im­age in my head — to hav­ing it on set, with that per­fect pro­duc­tion de­sign and light­ing, it’s quite a high, and it’s what spurs you on to hit­ting the nail on the head on the next one.”

Nick Briggs Car­ni­val Film & Tele­vi­sion Limited / PBS


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