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Downton Abbey stars glam up for high fashion shoot

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The stars of Downton Abbey have traded their cloche hats and beaded gowns for the high fashion designs of Chanel, Valentino and Erdem in a sumptuous new shoot for Harper’s Bazaar.

For its August issue, the magazine has produced a 10-page portfolio located at the suitably aristocratic Firle Place in Sussex - the ancestral home of Viscount Gage.

Titled "The Downton Sisterhood", the spread celebrates the powerhouse that is Lady Mary and co. in a series of glossy snaps by renowned fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski.

It comes as audiences rev up for the fifth season of hit ITV show this autumn, which the cast are filming now.

While we're used to seeing the Downton crew parade around in their finery (the upstairs lot, at least), this shoot introduces the show's protagonists to a whole new level of modern-day couture.

Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) and Elizabeth McGovern (the Countess of Grantham) all star in the shoot, alongside Sophie McShera, who plays the kitchen maid Daisy, Lesley Nicol, who is Downton's cook Mrs Patmore and Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates). Lily James - or Lady Rose - also makes an appearance.

Between them, the actresses showcase a variety of elegant floor-length gowns, jewellery and shoes by an eye-watering line-up of international designers including Chanel, Valentino, Jenny Packham, Erdem, Marina Rinaldi, Calvin Klein, Jimmy Choo, Philosophy di Natalie Ratabesi, Burberry and Carolina Herrera.

The Downton cast filming ahead of the fifth season of the show

Dockery, 32, also features on the cover of the August issue wearing a Valentino silk and feather-embellished dress.

"It’s lovely to be back on the show again," she told the mag. "And because it’s the fifth year, we find ourselves reminiscing much more. There’s a sense of nostalgia this year because we’re that much further on. And some pictures from the first series make us go, "Oh my God! We were so young." We’ve all grown up together in a lot of ways. It’s a lovely thing, really."

"Julian [Fellowes] writes so well for women," she added. "He’s got a very good way with families. We’re all very lucky that we’re playing roles that are very complex, not just two-dimensional and predictable."

Photographer: Alexi Lubomirski , courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

McGovern, who plays Lady Cora, hailed the show for championing elder women.

"Women in their forties and fifties are very under-represented by all aspects of the media," she said. "There are not many stories out there, and that’s where Downton Abbey is so nice. Maybe that’s partly why people have embraced it as much as they have."

McShera - aka Daisy - added: "Downton is like a big, silly family. I call Lesley [Nicol who plays Mrs Patmore, the cook] 'Telly Mummy.'"

The full interview appears in the August issue of HARPER’S BAZAAR, on sale from 4 July. Also available as a digital edition at harpersbazaar.co.uk

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