White lace adorns a woman in attendance. Round decorated tables in towers of finger sandwiches, Devonshire cream scones, lemon curd and petit fours already host a joyful crowd of ladies in floral dresses and hats. She clasps almost firmly onto her white feathered fan, designed for air and showcase. Her eyebrows arch high, paired with a set of blue eyes and a confident smile. Her Royal hat towers over the stature of regular man. So does her well-kept figure. Even the Audubon Society stops to grasp at the beauty and finesse of the large white feather adorning it. The other ladies glance in admiration at the intricate craftsmanship, a bridal masterpiece. On this early Royal Tea afternoon, her presence mirrors the beauty and poise of title, carried with a certain pride, and mingling with other likeminded members of society for the “simple” joy of tea.
Against a backdrop of grey clouds the light sprinkling rain scene outside mimics a different kind of joy. Despite it, the ladies’ Tea Room finesse laughter echoes across the room. Suddenly, they are taken by a pleasant surprise. Their attention captured by a flaming red headed woman, dressed in hunting green, belt strapped around her waist for style and comfort. Her chestnut hued shoes resemble the places where she walked or carried on horse across the countryside for sport. The duck’s feathers fall flat with wings apart but sit crafted on her large hat; reflecting hues of amber, dark green and patterns alive only on the beauty of landscape where she’s come from.
Ladies dressed in gowns, velvet, cameo medallions and pearls continue to fill in the room. The only gentleman there, in golf attire with knickers and a blue knitted vest, hangs a jacket on his right shoulder. His wife, behind him, sports a hat and long skirt. It kept her skin shielded from the day’s mild sun on the golf field, the fresh wind adding hues of color to her cheeks.
A young debutante around 16, a future princess in disguise, shyly softens the ladies’ excitement. The tiara and necklace reflect in subtle tones of gemstones. The white in her diamonds portray purity, strength and future wealth. The yellow joy and grace well suited for her age. There are tiny pearls in between the chiffon bateau neckline. The silk dress drops behind, leaving a trail for this young woman to carry behind and step around, making it an entire skill set to walk properly.
She is a few years younger of the woman sitting next to her. Whispering they call this lady a flapper. She is sporting an equally elegant bright green “flapper.” Her walk is more attractive and confident; her bob hair short and wrapped in a silk headband. The gestures of her hands are flirty in nature and alive in movement. Her thighs sway to the upbeat of a new generation. Call her a more rebel version of the proper tea ladies but equally accepted for the liberties that her status affords her to take.
This circle of beautiful ghosts is reminiscent of the 1900’s. They carefully continue to walk through the tables, posing for each iPhone and Android. At the center of the show is costumer designer Mela Hoyt-Heydon, telling the story of each character: Costume Guild West models and designers that have taken the time to sew their own attire.
The rain has stopped. For a moment in time you realize the show mirrors a different world, almost centuries apart. Inspired by the Downton Abbey story, Muzeo’s 21st century Royal Tea Afternoon is a flashback. It is a beautiful and equally chilling reminder of women and men that began to sew the very culture on which we continue to find delight today. For anyone that has ever wondered what it would be like to attend a Royal Tea, this special invitation portrays the society that shaped its course. It’s a joyful reason and celebration to believe, amidst our generation’s multitasking medley, that indeed, everything stops for tea.
Photography Credits by DIAMONDS MIRROR & Photographer CJ Andrews – MUZEO MUSEUM And CULTURAL CENTER invited Costume Designer Mela Hoyt-Heydon to present a Royal Tea Afternoon inspired by Downton Abbey – FASHION SHOW MODELS are part of the Costume Guild West, and most created their own garments.
A special thank you note to the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center. Added are a few words of wisdom from the designer on today’s fashion and storytelling. Royal Tea Afternoon Presenter Mela Hoyt-Heydon is the President of the Costume Guild West, and Chairman of the Theater Arts Department. She is a Union Costume Designer for the entertainment industry, having worked on renowned films, television and theatrical productions.
“We need to remember that there is clothing for every age, and clothing for every event. You don’t wear blue jeans to the opera, and an opera coat to the baseball game.Sometimes designers forget that today. Also, they forget to design for a variety of ages. We see in Downton Abbey that clothes are appropriate for each age, for each event. One size does not fit all.”
“You’re inspired by the story. The story tells you. You bring the director’s vision and story to life.”