The Cinderella Story of Lady Edith
Imagine if your own mother said this about you: “Be kind to her, she has so few advantages.” That’s exactly what Lady Cora said about her daughter Edith.
Lady Edith speaks her mind at dinner.
Laura Carmichael plays Lady Edith on Downton Abbey, the classic middle sister: boring, undervalued and overlooked. In the early days of Downton, Edith is always eclipsed by her sisters: charismatic Lady Mary and the pretty and daring Lady Sybil. But make no mistake, Edith has a dark side and isn’t above seeking both revenge and attention, most notably by ruining Mary’s reputation after revealing her tryst with the Turk.
That was then and this is now: everybody loves a comeback story. Over time, Edith evolves from a prime candidate for reality show “What not to Wear” to a Bloomsbury bohemian, magnificently decked out in the fashion of the roaring 20s. Lady Mary is always well dressed, but it’s way more interesting when an unconventional beauty like Edith finds her fashion mojo.
First and only lady at Downton to drive a tractor
Lady Edith wills herself into being beautiful after she crusades for the women’s vote, writes a column for a society rag and embarks on a love affair with its publisher. Edith was the first woman at Downton to get behind the wheel of a car and a tractor. And before ending up with a secret baby, Edith was the one frequenting London’s racy clubs, having clandestine sleepovers and engaged to marry a German!
There’s definitely a parallel between life and fashion for Lady Edith. Caroline McCall, Downton’s Emmy Award-winning costume designer, says Edith’s flirtation with the cutting edge follows the arc of her story; both are progressive and rebellious. McCall explains, Lady Edith’s “decided that she’s a new independent woman of the early twenties, so her wardrobe has changed to reflect all that.”
In Season 4, Edith starts a new life in London. That’s when we see her personality and fashion sense shift. Edith ditches her frumpy frocks and emerges with flapper flair, sporting bare shoulders, beautifully marcelled hair and exotic jewellery. Edith becomes riveting to viewers and Michael Gregson, the editor of Sketch magazine. Her fashion forwardness reflects her emotional and sexual awakening.
Edith is simply glam wearing a green flapper dress for her big date with Michael at London's fancy supper club, Criterion. She leans in for a daring, back revealing kiss in her gold embroidered viridian dress. Fashion forward in every regard.
The topsy turvy love life of Edith Crawley
Downton Abbey begins with the death of its heir, Patrick, Mary’s fiance. Mary never wanted to marry Patrick, but that wasn’t the case for Edith who is more wounded by his death than Mary.
When Matthew Crawley arrives to Downton, Lady Edith takes him on a less than fascinating church tour, but he only has eyes for Mary.
Lady Edith helps out a local farmer during the war. She ends up kissing the farmer, but the farmer’s wife puts an end to shenanigans.
Who can forget the bizarre appearance of a burned and bandaged veteran claiming to be the late Patrick Crawley. Lady Edith believes his story, but the rest of the family do not. He leaves Downton with a note telling Edith it was too difficult. More tears for Edith.
Edith finally woos Sir Anthony into submission. And then he dumps her at the altar.
She hooks up with editor Michael Gregson, who is married to an actual lunatic. He vows to become German in order to marry Lady Edith but disappears in Germany, leaving her with a shameful secret baby.
Laura Carmichael is getting noticed in real life now too because of what’s going on the show.
Laura Carmichael’s style icon: Meryl Streep.
The wardrobe guy brought Laura Carmichael Meryl Streep’s trousers from Out of Africa to wear during her farm scenes during the war. Carmichael was thrilled at the prospect of wearing Streep’s pants, but the Downton team ended up making Laura a pair of her own. She did get to wear Streep’s blouse though. Laura’s favourite Meryl Streep fashion moment is when she wears a Burberry trench coat in Kramer vs. Kramer – the epitome of New York.
Laura Carmichael’s girl crush (and ours too): BEYONCE!
Carmichael says, “I have such a huge girl crush on Beyoncé. She’s so sexy and inspirational, and she makes no secret of the fact she works hard. If I’m feeling discouraged or at a low ebb, I ask myself, ‘What would Beyoncé do?'”. Don’t we all!
How Laura Carmichael landed the role on Downton Abbey:
After graduation, Carmichael worked as a receptionist at a doctor’s office while looking for acting jobs. Then she was offered two roles at once: a tour of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Dubai and Downton Abbey. When she auditioned for Downton Abbey, Carmichael assumed it was a scullery maid role. She had no idea she would be given such a brilliant character to play. The rest is history.