Hats Off to the Return of Downton Abbey!

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS Hawaii

“I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara around the clock.”

– Dowager Countess Violet Crawley

The tart-tongued Countess Violet Crawley is an audience favorite character in Downton Abbey. And a halo is one of the few kinds of striking headgear that one does not see on the enduring hit mini-series from Britain.


So, when PBS Hawaii held a series of events to celebrate Downton Abbey’s return to Masterpiece Classic this month with Season Five, many attendees showed up with a 1920s-style hat or headband. These headpieces sprouted fine feathers, jewels, fur, lace, chiffon and ribbon.


If a guest didn’t have head decor and wanted it, one of our Downton Abbey partners, Hawaii-based fashion designer Anne Namba of Anne Namba Designs, offered an assortment of beautiful pieces. She and a top aide handcrafted all of them, putting the fun in a fundraiser for PBS Hawaii.


Viewers who’ve been drawn into the daily life and dramas of the great manor, upstairs and downstairs, welcomed the excuse to channel another era.


A member of PBS Hawaii’s Board of Directors, Architects Hawaii President Bettina Mehnert, wore a beautiful black lace dress that her grandmother once wore in Germany, and topped the ensemble with a hat bearing grand peacock feathers.


PBS Hawaii Board Member Bettina Mehnert, me, and Anne Namba celebrating Downton Abbey during pledge night.
PBS Hawaii Board Member Bettina Mehnert, me, and Anne Namba celebrating Downton Abbey during pledge night.

Beta Beta Gamma sorority alumni who volunteered on our phone bank came in flapper dresses, long gowns and long gloves, pearls, beads and hats with veils.


In partnership with the elegant Hawaii Theater and its new President, Ruth Bolan, we held an advance screening of the premiere episode of Season Five. Some of the male attendees got into the costuming act too: suspenders, bowlers and a couple of top coats.


PBS Hawaii airs the first episode of Season Five of Downton Abbey at 8:00 pm Sunday, January 4. We thank our broadcast sponsors: law firm Carlsmith Ball, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, American Savings Bank and Bali Steak and Seafood.


As you drink in the new plot developments and yes, more hat glamour, let’s remember the Downton Abbey hat quote that is making its way into popular culture.


Say this, as Lady Mary did to her mother, and it’s a way to end a conversation you don’t want to have:

“I’m going upstairs to take off my hat.”


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