God bless TiVo for keeping Mr Selfridge safe until I had the chance to sit down and watch it. The ITV period drama has been languishing in a folder, threatening to delete itself for weeks – perhaps fair when you consider that the show was first broadcast back in January.
I remember Twitter going nuts with excitement at the programme that explored the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American who opened that little shop on Oxford Street called Selfridges, changing the face of retail at the time, and whose ideas and catchphrases are still used on the shop floor today. The series is an adaptation of Lindy Woodhead’s Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge – a book now firmly on my wishlist – and offers a look at a completely different period in time, not just in the way people dressed but in how they shopped.
Shopping for clothes today on the high street today is about desire and socialising as much as it is about the need to dress oneself. It baffles me to think that all clothes were handmade until this point – being about to buy ‘off the rack’ was simply unheard of – and make-up was deemed unsuitable to sell in full view on the shop floor.
Along with the social and historical aspects of the drama, I have of course fallen for the clothes the lead characters wear. My favourite has to be the Parisian, Valerie, for her daring look – a doctor’s bag, fedora-style hat, calf length skirt, cream blouses, blazers and loosely done up polka dot tie. It’s a very masculine look that ruffles a few feathers on the shop floor but I love the way her outfit challenges the way women were dressing in Britain at the time.
Towards the end of the series Rose and Rosalie Selfridge also wear some exquisite cream day dresses, and Agnes and her fellow shop assistants work their Edwardian hairstyles so that there isn’t a strand out of place.
The series is coming back for a second season next year, and is apparently set four years in the future, so the fashions and attitudes to what goes on sale on the shop floor could be very interesting indeed.
Have you seen Mr Selfridge? Did you love it or hate it? Share your favourite characters/outfits in the comments below.