x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Class act? Downton Abbey enters the world of merchandising

Want to get lips as soft as Lady Mary's, or walls as grey as those in Mrs Patmore's kitchen?

From October, Marks & Spencer will be selling a Downton Abbey beauty line, including this lip balm. Courtesy Marks & Spencer
From October, Marks & Spencer will be selling a Downton Abbey beauty line, including this lip balm. Courtesy Marks & Spencer

Forget Mad Men modernism. This season’s style is all about Downton Abbey’s Edwardian opulence.

Millions around the world have been seduced by the strait-laced but stylish world of the British historical drama. Soon they’ll be able to take some of that style home, getting lips as soft as Lady Mary’s and even walls as grey as Mrs Patmore’s kitchen.

The show’s fourth season starts on British TV next month, and at the same time there comes a range of merchandise that includes a board game, homewares, clothes and beauty products.

All in the best possible taste, of course. “We haven’t rushed into it,” says the show’s executive producer Gareth Neame. “We don’t want to carpet-bomb the retail sector.”

In keeping with the programme’s posh-frothy image, the products being rolled out aim to be quirky rather than kitschy.

This autumn, Marks & Spencer will be selling a Downton Abbey beauty line, including soap, nail polish, lip gloss, lotion and scented candles. The items are whimsically packaged and adorned with quotations from the series.

The show has also struck deals for a jewellery range from Danbury Mint and Downton-themed Christmas ornaments from Kurt Adler – both going on sale later this year.

It also has a licensing agreement with the figurine manufacturer Bradford Exchange, raising fans’ hopes for a range of Downton dolls.

Cele Otnes, a professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, says the richly detailed world of Downton Abbey is key to viewers’ intense bond with the show. “It’s not just a television programme, it’s really an aesthetic,” she says.

“It’s that whole thing about presenting a lifestyle. We get in the house, we get inside these characters’ lives. We see inside their bedrooms, their bathrooms, their kitchens. We can absorb ourselves not only in the story, which is compelling, but in the details of their lives.”

No detail is too small for emulation – down to the paint on the abbey walls.

Mylands, the London-based paint -company that supplies the show with historically accurate pigments, recently -began marketing two of its Downton tones to the public – Amber Grey, the colour of the downstairs kitchen overseen by the cook Mrs Patmore, and Empire Grey, which adorns Mr Carson’s butler’s pantry. – AP

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