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!