When the doors to the Avonlea costume department were closed in 1996, the staff at Sullivan Studios took stock of an inventory that had been created by designers Martha Mann, Madeline Stewart and Ruth Secord over seven years of cutting, stitching, fitting and primping.
Imagine 7000 pairs of shoes – including period skates, slippers, high-button boots and dance wear; 10,000 costumes – half of which were original designs for all of the lead performers and guest stars; 2000 hats – with enough feathers, frills and furbelows to exhaust a full-time millinery department.
Most female performers who had been subjected to seven years of authentic corsets and heavy undergarments had no desire to keep them. Souvenirs were the rare costume jewelry, eye wear, head dresses, wigs and fans that had been procured at great expense and sold at the production’s close to enthusiastic memorabilia hunters.
Avonlea scripts presented enormous challenges; and so did the actors who often had much to say about their character development and how it would best be reflected in what they wore.
In 2011, Sullivan Entertainment launched an online fashion store and blog – Still the Lovely – where a majority of original and authentic costumes used in the show are now available for sale.