18 thoughts on “TBT: Lillie (1978)

  1. I love Lillie. Francesa Annis is one of my all-time favourite actreses. Beauty, talent and brains. Besides being the perfect Lady Jessica Atreides.

  2. Wow. I remember avidly watching every episode. That plain–but sultry!–little black dress is still my favorite, along with the simpler white evening gowns. (Am not crazy about late-Victorian fashion, although these are gorgeous recreations.) Annis and Lill are too thin for their roles; that era appreciated a fine figure of a woman/man. However, at least Lillie is not tightly corseted after her daughter’s birth–nice attention to detail. Her aging make-up and prosthetics or whatever were well thought out, too. (Annis’s make-up in general was pretty discreet. I just saw Visconti’s last movie, “The Innocent,” and its 1890s femme fatale was in full-on mid-70s shadow, liner, mascara, the works.)

  3. I remember loving this as a child, though a lot of the plot left me rather confused. But ALL TEH PRETTY DRESSES! I re-watched it last year and found it had aged rather well, all things considering. :)

  4. This just finally let me subscribe – I’m such a fan of the 1870/80s and those costumes are simply fantastic. I adore the costumes of the 3rd episode – the simple black one and in the end the fabulous white ball gown – stunning. Does anyone know if its historical accurate that she only had one black dress she altered for the occassions?

  5. Thanks for unlocking the Patreon post. Did you know that Ms Annis was pregnant during filming of the later episodes?
    Favourites are the ball gowns and evening gowns especially the Russian/Greek one.

  6. Had you not mentioned the costumes being super gorgeous and accurate in th beginning,I would have fallen off my chair seeing the screencaps.Such quality is seldom expected from 70’s shows,but this one does a brilliant job in bringing the late Victorian era to life.

  7. What is it with the American notion that commoners can’t wear tiaras???

    It’s a fantasy – a tiara isn’t a mark of rank. The rule about tiaras in Britain was and still is that they may only be worn either by brides in wedding gowns or by married women at white-tie evening events. It’s a crashing solecism for anyone to wear a tiara at anything less formal than a white-tie evening do, or for an unmarried girl to wear one ever.

    BTW, that ‘belt that looks like a vest’ was known in the 19th century as a ‘Swiss belt’, ‘Swiss waist’ or ‘corsage suissesse’. Very popular from the 1860s to ’90s.

    1. I remember a story of King Edward when Prince of Wales scolding Jennie Churchill for wearing a diamond star in her hair instead of a tiara to a white tie dinner. The dress code demanded a tiara.

      1. I think it was Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough, she wore a diamond crescent or aigrette but could not get to the bank on time to get the tiara out.

    2. There’s also the addendum that all rules are off if you’re in direct descent of the monarch.
      Princesses usually start wearing tiaras on their 18th birthdays (most observed by the NRF, with “starter tiaras”).
      In the UK, Anne, the Princess Royal, borrowed and wore tiaras at official functions before her engagement (and marriage).

  8. I’ve loved the LILLIE miniseries since I first saw it as a youngster decades ago on PBS and I’m so grateful to you for this close-up revisiting of its amazing costumes. I remember being astonished by how perfectly Francesca Annis’s tiny waist and voluptuous bust fit the period and the historical record of the real Lillie. While the video quality isn’t great even on the DVDs and some of the elements aren’t accurate (the wonderful house the series shows as being built for Lillie by “Bertie” was the creation of another woman), the excellent script and superb acting (Peter Egan, Dennis Lill, and Anton Rogers among others are wonderful) as well as the visuals are a delight. Thanks again for this great trip down costuming Memory Lane!

  9. I remember being entranced by the costumes…and Ms Annis of course. All those 70s costume dramas definitely set me on the path to being mad about costume, HA or not! Thanks for this trip down memory lane

  10. Lillie Langtry was a great beauty of the day. Aristocratic ladies would stand on ballroom chairs to get a good look at her. Either photos and paintings don’t do Lillie justice or standards of beauty were different then, probably the latter. Francisca Annis has always been my idea of beautiful. And she aged just as beautifully IMO.

  11. I watched the miniseries a while back through this site’s recommendation, and even I was shocked at myself for getting into it so much. It’s done so well, and of course the costumes are all stunning. I’d 100% wear that white ball gown if I could.

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