In Road to Avonlea, the talents of costume designer Martha Mann (who has previously done the designs for Anne of Green Gables), Madeline Stewart and Ruth Secord were utilized to bring authenticity to the period drama.
A period drama, like Road to Avonlea relies on several elements to pull capture the look and feel a particular era. Having experience in designing costumes in Anne of Green Gables which is from a similar period, Mann’s expertise was greatly needed.
Costume design for Road to Avonlea would be challenging. The fashion of the day had strict and specific requirements for women. Outfits for different occasions, and ages would require a large volume of clothes. Even with the invention of the singer sewing machine in 1856, clothing was still time consuming to make, and clothing was worn for years before being replaced. However, different styles of dress were required for ladies. There was a best dress for church or special occasions, a second best dress for entertaining in one’s home, and finally, an everyday dress for household chores and school.
Young girls dressed more simply than adult women, and even had restrictions on how they could wear their hair! Only girls seventeen and up could wear their hair in a chignon, or pompadour (also known as the Gibson girl hair style). You may notice that Felicity over time as she ages adopts this hair up style once she’s old enough. Once women did come of age the style of dress became more elaborate. Skirts included bustles and short trains. Women had to be dressed from head to toe and keep a dewy complexion and the clothing reflected this requirement. Hats and gloves were worn to protect the face and hands, and long sleeves had to be worn, even in the winter.
There were several types of jewellery women wore including bracelets, cameo brooches, pearl necklaces and more. With a large inventory as well as a large cast, the costume design department certainly had their work cut out for them. Some 7,000 pairs of shoes and 10,000 costumes would be created during the seven season run of the series. Some of the original and authentic costumes used in the show are still available for sale in the fashion section of our online store.
Road To Avonlea – High Society (Season 3, Episode 12) from Sullivan Entertainment on Vimeo.