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Fashion goes really retro

The age of opulence ... Downton Abbey inspires designers.

The age of opulence ... Downton Abbey inspires designers.

Is it time to trade polished sheaths and all-business suits for lace gowns and tweed jodhpurs?

Mad Men, with its influential '60s style, was overlooked for an Emmy Award nomination on Thursday for costume design for the first time in its five-year run. And while fans expressed shock about the snub, the fashion world has already embraced another nominee: Downton Abbey.

Episodes of Boardwalk Empire, The Borgias, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time also received nominations, but the likelihood of the masses finding their closets influenced by medieval Italians or mythical adventurers seems slim.

The British aristocracy of the early 1900s featured in Downton Abbey, however, is already making its mark.

Ralph Lauren paid homage to the show in the preview of his autumn collection earlier this year, with models walking down the runway to the soundtrack. Expect more glamorous and embellished looks inspired by the show to take over store racks over the next few weeks, says Brooke Jaffe, director of fashion accessories at Bloomingdale's. "There is a return to opulence," Jaffe says.

Stylist George Kotsiopolous, co-host for E!'s Fashion Police, noted that gentlemanly looks, for men and women, come from the Downton Abbey pre-World War I period. "Designers are influenced by the same things as stylists: movies, TV, music, art - whatever is the zeitgeist," he says.

For the past few years, it had been the chic, sophisticated Mad Men look that dominated the fashion conversation, and the show had a wildfire ability to turn back the clock on contemporary style to embrace the clean, refined lines of the early 1960s. Countless designers, including Michael Kors and Peter Som, cited its influence, and Banana Republic launched a Mad Men-branded collection.

"The shape had been the same for a while - the shaped waist, the va-va-voom look," Kostiopolous says. When it became common from Mad Men, he says, "it becomes less interesting to fashion people."

He doesn't think the look will go away altogether, though. "Women looked good in the '50s and '60s because the clothes were universally flattering, and any guy looks great in a suit."


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