It seems there is no shade like stiff upper lip English costume drama shade. It’s not only Queen Elizabeth that fact-checks historical drama, but opposite camp costumers are like the Sharks and the Jets of the BBC and ITV. Downton Abbey‘s costume designer, Alastair Bruce was watching the BBC’s War and Peace with a very critical eye, and called a French foul.
According to the Inquisitr, Downton Abbey has set the bar high for reflecting the style of the time throughout its run on ITV and PBS. They raised the hemlines, fixed hairstyles, and even made sure that if Robert was in uniform, every cuff and metal was just so. The hats, the shoes, and the jewelry were researched to reflect the times. Queen Elizabeth watches and evaluates every detail for accuracy.
Downton Abbey’s historical consultant disses rival period drama over costume error https://t.co/5xBEDox7ne— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 27, 2016
Vanity Fair is reporting a dis of epic proportion, saying that the Downton crew are throwing some serious style shade at War and Peace, which it seems Alister Bruce of Downton Abbey believes is not up to par for historical significance. And the throw down was on Twitter.
Alastair Bruce ✔@AlastairBruce_
“Watching @bbc #warandpeace French-hating Russian aristo wearing Napoleon’s Legion d’Honeur #baffling @MuseeLegiondh”
Bruce threw down the gauntlet.
Chris Balster @ChrisBalster
“@AlastairBruce_ @BBC @MuseeLegiondh Its funny how every tv show you don’t advise on always gets insignia wrong. Unless he stole it obviously.”
Having trouble keeping up? There seems to be a nerd/snob alert.
Alastair Bruce ✔@AlastairBruce_
“@ChrisBalster @BBC If wearer is escaped Fr aristo in Russia(suggested)he shld have Bourbon Order of the Holy Spirit pic.twitter.com/MzwfqTlAnV”
Dickie Arbiter @RoyalDickie
“Beeb accuracy is a thing of the past – as long as it looks pretty does it matter. Not only #baffling but #sloppy https://twitter.com/AlastairBruce_/status/691351980342657026 …”
Beeb is the BBC, and Alistair Bruce threw out an explanation that the masses would understand.
“Vicomte de Mortemart, a French character who fled his country during the French Revolution, is depicted wearing Legion d’honneur, an honor given by Napoleon after assuming control of the country’s monarchy. (A modern-day example: If we flee to Canada after Trump is elected president and are depicted in our inevitable Lifetime biopic wearing a “Make America Great Again” trucker hat.)”
Downton Abbey advisor bemoans 'baffling' War and Peace costume error but still lets Dwnton ladies eat food in gloves https://t.co/KbzSLyUeyJ— Anna Anthropologist (@AnnaAnthro) January 27, 2016
The Telegraph says that War and Peace committed a “grave costuming error,” and if they want to be taken seriously, they need to step up their game. In other words, they are no Downton Abbey. Alastair Bruce is placing himself as the authority on accurate costuming.
“What quite clearly is an oxymoron is that there would be a displaced aristocrat from the French ancient regime who would even consider wearing such an honour. This error is the equivalent of making a historical political drama and putting Margaret Thatcher in a red rosette.”
Admission to the world of serious costume dramas just got a bit higher.
“All these things are avoidable. You can argue that it doesn’t matter, but when I watch a programme of this high regard, I think why, oh why don’t you go a little bit further to get this stuff right.”
Dominic Lieven, professor of Russian History at the London School of Economics admitted there was an error.
“I must have missed that one. To be honest, I didn’t look that carefully enough at their chests. I should have noticed it; it’s my fault.”
Then there is the accusation that producers are “sexting up” Tolstoy for the television audience. Andrew Davies admits to adding sex to War and Peace. Toby McLeod, a military historian says that the spotless uniforms also look fake.
“In real life these guys would have looked like tramps. They would’ve looked like they’d slept in a field in their clothes for two weeks. They would have only looked like they do in the show when they were on the parade ground.”
During the time when War and Peace took place, there were three different uniforms, yet the BBC only included one. It seems that the audience today is following each detail closely.
“It’s a real nitpicking point,” he said. “But people like me notice these things. It is very obvious to someone with even a fleeting interest in Russian dress.”
This is the kind of feud I'm into. RT War and Peace: Downton Abbey historical adviser calls out costume error https://t.co/Ff6qApODhK— Jocelyn Vena (@jocelyn1212) January 27, 2016
To follow each detail would cost a fortune in terms of military details, so they need to make some choices.
Are you watching War and Peace?
[Photo courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images]