Do you make the men’s clothes as well?
Most of the men’s clothes, apart from those worn by the principles Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham) and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) are rented and altered. It’s so expensive to make dinner jackets. Very few film or television budgets could afford to put that much money into a dinner jacket that no one would realize is made for the part. We had a dinner suit made for Hugh on Saville Row [which is famous for its men’s bespoke tailoring]. They were very keen to use their old patterns and to get the publicity. They reduced their price from £4,000 ($6,300) to £2,700 ($4,200). That shows what you’re dealing with. The patterns from Downton’s period never get used, and the tailors are not used to working in that way.
How far in advance of production do you read the scripts?
I probably read the script four or five times in advance because I have to break it down for what each character will require before the series. Every character has a wardrobe for morning, afternoon and night. We started filming in February, and I started working about eight weeks before. Although a lot of the groundwork will be done when the filming starts, you’re constantly making new costumes as new characters are introduced, and new situations arise. We’ll need new costumes as it moves from winter to spring and back to winter again.