The House of Eliott – 25 years later

I only saw parts of the House of Eliott when it was originally broadcast 1991 – 1994 because we lived in a building that didn’t have cable. I remember liking the series, and so when a copy of the DVDs came our way, I grabbed it for the museum’s library. We just finished a semi-marathon of watching the series over the past week and although I didn’t love everything, the series is good. The clothing is usually exceptional. Joan Wadge, who did the costuming in series one and three is especially good. There are some problems, especially with hats, in the second series when they brought in a different costumer.

In case you haven’t seen it, the story is about two sisters whose father dies in 1920, leaving them with little formal education and not enough money to survive without working or marrying. The two middle class women set about to ambitiously create a couture house, and, despite a few bumps in the road, their venture becomes prosperous and they become famous.

The series ran for three years but then ended, with no resolve after a season three cliff-hanger finale. The show did become soapier as it went along. The first year is the best in terms of being a really good history lesson about the post World War One world: the economy, society, role of women, and the couture industry. In series two and three, the story drifts at times, introducing characters and unexpected twists and deaths to keep viewers interested. The clothing industry and the two heroines are no longer always the focus. However, even though the two women are often shown as reactionary, quick to anger, and make egregious business mistakes, failing to take sage advice or hire lawyers when they should, you root for them, even when they are arrogant and unlikable at times.

The series is ripe for a reunion movie or series set in the late 40s that picks up the story, this time of middle-aged women in the clothing business in post World War II England. But if it does get revived, I hope they plan to resolve each season, so there are no cliff-hangers!

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
This entry was posted in film costuming. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The House of Eliott – 25 years later

  1. Nancy Nichols says:

    I loved this series, even tho it was soapy at times! And Stella Gonet was the most terrific Roxane to Robert Lindsay’s Cyrano, which I was lucky enough to see in London 20 years ago. I’d love to see a 1940s era continuation, with the same cast!
    Thanks,
    Nancy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.