The Gilded Age (2022) – Recap Episode 3

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Julian Fellowes has written an American version of Downton Abbey for HBO, so we’re recapping this first season of The Gilded Age! Starting in 1882, the story promises to be a juicy soap opera of new money vs. old with lots of bustle gowns. Check here on Tuesdays for our recap of the previous week’s episode.

 

For everyone who complained that not much happened in the plot of episode 2 of The Gilded Age (2022-), here ya go, episode 3 has got some action! But as I’ve said, I’m not really recapping for plot, there are other bloggers for that. I’m here for the costumes and historical references therein. Let’s get to things.

Let’s start at the Van Rijn house, where the aunties are mostly wearing repeated costumes, and Marian has a new outfit that’s just as boring as everything she’s worn so far.

The Gilded Age (2022)

It’s not a zipper, but why isn’t it buttons? Blouses buttoned up then (as now). Did the costume department run out of time & just go with hook & eye tape?

The Gilded Age (2022)

This lace pattern looks 1960s to me. And non-white lace always seems like a 20th-c. thing, when machine-made lace became common.

They get some notice that Clara Barton (real historical person) is speaking and apparently trying to raise money for this crazy notion of the American Red Cross (spoiler: she does!).

Window-peeper Ada sees Miss Russell going out somewhere, thus a new outfit for Gladys.

The Gilded Age (2022)

This yellow floral fabric is delicate & pretty & feels appropriate to both the character & the period. The blue hat ribbon picks up the blue in the floral.

The Gilded Age (2022)

That’s a right-on 1880s bodice!

Over at the Russell place, Bertha has a real legit 1880s bustle gown, I think!

The Gilded Age (2022)

Mom & daughter are both finally rockin’ the accurate bodice shapes!

The Gilded Age (2022)

Did somebody pop over to Truly Victorian? If so, thanks!

Clara Barton gives her little talk, looking horribly modest and bland in comparison to the old-money crowd she’s trying drum up support from.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Mrs. Astor asks some dumb questions. No, I didn’t intend get a goofy screencap of her, but this encapsulates why and how much I hate screencapping (see also: behind the scenes).

The Gilded Age (2022)

I adore the fabric on her sleeve, I want to see more! But screencapping, ugh.

Mrs. Fane is running the show and wearing her, by now, standard style, though in a new dress. Astor, Fane, and Morris haven’t really repeated costumes in these three eps, but then, the don’t get much screentime either.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Another pale gown on Fane.

Mrs. Morris is in her, by now, standard stripes and reminds Marian not to talk about icky new-money folks who could actually give money to this cause.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Back view of Mrs. Morris, left, shows a very simple skirt shape, almost no bustle, just a little fullness. While the lady in the front has swagged skirts.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Glad they got the memo about perchy 1880s hats!

Ada wore this orange military-inspired gown in a brief carriage scene in episode one, but this is a better view. Marion is wearing the new outfit that was being made at the dressmaker last episode.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Ada meets old flame, Mr. Eckhard. She seem excited, but folks, don’t bother, nothing is coming of this.

Back with the Russells, Gladys is back in Bo Peep cosplay to talk to daddy about inviting a BOY to dinner.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Gladys is so difficult to screencap, sorry!

The Gilded Age (2022)

1880s does 1780s, wut?

The aunties give some more backstory about Ada and Mr. Eckhard. Their outfits are repeats, but Ada’s is that green and yellow gown she wore almost completely in the dark last episode. Oh, and Larry pops in to announce he’s going to dinner at the Russells, which annoys his mom. Their bickering is the best bickering.

The Gilded Age (2022)

OK, so it’s not that much better of a screencap. Pls to be standing in direct light next time, Cynthia Nixon!

Time for that dinner at the Russells and let’s all hate on Bertha’s dress. Yeah, acid green is a possible color for the period (note: I said “possible”), but those giant black appliques are so freakin’ modern. I’ve seen them on AliExpress. Also, the neckline and faux-corset styling are just weaksauce.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Gladys is again wearing her pink floral dress, but here’s a slightly better view.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Is it 18th-century or 19th-century? Can’t tell.

The Gilded Age (2022)

At the Van Rijn house, Marian’s received a letter from Mr. Raikes — now he has a job in New York, all the better to stalk her with. Everyone’s wearing repeated costumes but some better views.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Ada’s dress looks to be inspired by this one at Augusta Auctions — same colors, style, collar, cuffs, only Ada’s gown has a bit of lace added. You can see more views on the auction site.

1880s - orange bustle, Augusta Auctions

1880s – orange bustle, Augusta Auctions

After dinner, Bertha and George Russell discuss Gladys’ interest in boys and boys interest in her. They also chat about some business dealings that seem precarious, but Bertha tells George twice up to now ‘we can make and spend another fortune if necessary.’ They may be assholes as people, but they have a wonderfully supportive and loving marriage to each other.

Meanwhile, Oscar and his boyfriend, John, are in bed discuss Oscar getting his obligatory marriage done with Gladys. Nothing of costume note, but I’m always here for queer representation.

George does business stuff, and I do want to point out this nice plaid bustle on his secretary, Miss Ainsley. It’s a good look on a larger lady.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Love the watch!

Marian and Peggy, both in new gowns, visit Mr. Raikes. He’s pushy with Marian — inviting her to lunch, coffee, and finally to Liberty’s Hand in the park. Geez, he’s desperate. He apparently has business with Peggy (and we’ll get a better view of her spiffy new outfit later).

The Gilded Age (2022)

This butt-bow is marginally better than the butt-sack style bustle of her other gowns.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Zooming in, it looks like the white front placket is sewn in around the neckline. Now, false blouses were done, but they’d usually hook or pin. The front would be the opening you got dressed through.

Mr. Fane and Mr. Morris has been conspiring with to ruin Russell, but Fane is in too deep financially himself. Oscar finds out about the plan to wipe out Russell and believes it.

The exclusive bitches, plus Mr. Eckhard for some reason, are having lunch at Mrs. Fanes’ house. Marian’s still wearing that ugly pale blue thing, and Ada’s wearing a repeat, so here’s the old guard’s new gowns.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Just seen from the waist up at lunch.

Costumer Eric Winterling posted more views of the gown he created from Kasia Walicka-Maimone’s designs for this scene:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Eric Winterling (@ewinterling)

Mrs. Astor finally approves of this American Red Cross thing.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Notice how her white blouse placket doesn’t look so obviously sewn in as Marian’s does.

So it’s safe for Mrs. Morris, et. al., to get on board too.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Peggy gets a letter from the Christian Advocate offering to publish her stories. Then she her estranged father visits. He wants her to come home for her mom’s birthday, and she reluctantly agrees after he’s dismissive of her dream of being a writer.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Smart new outfit for Peggy!

The Gilded Age (2022)

I’m calling it now: this will be one of the top outfits of the show. So eye-catching, yet appropriate to the period & the character.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Her dad looks good too.

Ada tells Marian that Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain fucked before marriage, so that’s why she’s a pariah.

Mr. Fane tells his wife that  they’ll also lose everything by trying to ruin Russell, oh and her and Mrs. Morris humiliating Mrs. Russell didn’t help matters. She’s unconvinced of any problem.

The Gilded Age (2022)

The sheer stripe sleeves are … interesting.

The Russell servants are totally nasty, while the Van Rijn servants are just boring. But here’s a shot of the Van Rijn maid and random-boy-in-service out at the magic lantern theater in their civvies. She doesn’t want him getting handsy.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Mr. Morris has the same convo with his wife as Mr. Fane had with his, to the same affect.

The Gilded Age (2022)

This dress just looks dumpy & about 2 years out of date. But she’s still in her stripes.

Oscar cries to his boyfriend that Gladys won’t be an heiress if Russell loses everything.

Peggy goes to the publisher’s office, where the assistant is an asshole and makes her wait all fucking day because she’s Black. Then the publisher questions that she really wrote them. When he finally agrees to use her stories, he’ll only do so if he can remove all references to race in the stories and conceal that the writer is Black, because Southern readers would unsubscribe from the magazine.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Peggy’s wearing her purple dress again, but let’s get a closeup of her cute hat.

Well Mrs. Morris did get the message from her hubby — she goes to Mrs. Russell to plead for mercy.

The Gilded Age (2022)

While this is kind of Morris’ standard stripe, it also feels inspired by this gown:

1888 - Worth bustle dress at Met Museum

1888 – Worth bustle dress at Met Museum

However, Bertha is stone cold, seeing as Anne has been a total bitch to her all along. Last recap, someone asked about Bertha’s hair, so let’s consider.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Front view.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Hard to get a back view, but her hair is twisted up & held by combs on the side.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Side view shows the twist & combs.

Bertha’s hair is simple and rather plain for the period, but not totally inaccurate. Hair could be styled up in a simple twist. The first thing I was reminded of was this:

1884 - detail of Madame X by John Singer Sargent

1884 – detail of Madame X by John Singer Sargent

Even fashion plates do show some simple styles. The most elaborate styles with braids piled high and curls in the back were typical of the first bustle period in the 1870s (which Agnes is clinging to a little bit; she doesn’t have the most ’70s version though). The frizzed curly bangs that Ada wears were common from the 1870s through the 1880s. Mrs. Fane and Morris actually have hair closer to Mrs. Russell with smooth twists (Fane has a few wispy curls).

1884 - hairstyles

1884 – hairstyles

Walking to the park, Peggy (who is a part-time lady’s companion now) tells Marian she turned the publisher down and is pissed that her father was right about systemic racism. Hey, hate on the messenger.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Eric Winterling also made Marian’s yellow gown.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Eric Winterling (@ewinterling)

They go to see the Statue of Liberty’s hand, where Marian and Mr. Raikes take a turn. He proposes marriage, and she doesn’t give him any kind of real answer. Um, whatever, girl.

Mr. Eckhard visits Ada, but Agatha tells him off, and they’re all wearing repeated costumes.

The business men try to talk down Russell, Mr. Morris even begs on his knees, but nah, Russell DGAF after what the Morrises did to him and his wife. Mr. Morris goes home to commit suicide.

Bertha greets George at home for cocktails in a new, weird dress.

The Gilded Age (2022)

The overall shape is great! It’s just that diagonal thing that annoys me.

The Gilded Age (2022)

This gown feels like an 1880s gown by way of 1950s couturier Charles James.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Pretty big bustle there & a pretty big bouffant hair.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Phear my shitty screencapping skillz! But really, I just wanted to show how her regular hairstyle is amped up here & has become low-key 1960s.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Now I want to take back everything I previously wrote about her hair. Sorry!

Btw, HBO just announced that The Gilded Age is renewed for a second season, so watch for cliffhangers aplenty.

 

 

Warning, folks: I will be missing the next three episodes due to travel! So I’ll be back with a combined recap of episodes 4, 5, and 6 on Tuesday, March 8. Talk amongst yourselves in the meantime :D

30 Responses

  1. Quokka

    Marian’s costumes are irritating me so much. Just so vapid! But then, so is her character. I wonder if she’s going to go rogue at some point, and show up in a non-pastel gown which has a semblance of personality…

    Reply
  2. Roxana

    Marian’s costumes really are a snooze-fest. Is this supposed to be a character point? Gladys is wonderfully pretty-pretty in those soft prints. Well dressed Peggy is totally wasting her time as a lady companion in white society. Like I said back in those days well off black people had their own alternate universe. I bet there were some black owned magazines who’d publish her. Why is her dad against his daughter having a career as a writer? BTW what does he do? And who is paying for Peggy’s smart clothes?

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Episode 4 finally gets into more of Peggy’s story! But recaps will have to wait, alas. Knowing that there will be a season 2, I hope they really expand her plot because they’re slowly dropping hints.

      Reply
      • Roxana

        I worry about what Fellows is going to do with Peggy. She’s got no business playing lady’s companion, it will do nothing to further her authorial ambitions. She belongs in her own part of town in the center of her own story not playing supporting role to a bland Marian.

        Reply
        • Trystan L. Bass

          But there has to be some connection between the two worlds, since this is The Gilded Age, not actually a show about the Black elite in Brooklyn c. 1880s. The later would be fantastic! But Fellows isn’t writing that & HBO isn’t funding that, unfortunately. Shonda Rhimes is already doing Bridgerton at Netflix, I guess she can’t do everything, alas.

          Reply
  3. Gray

    Peggy’s smart new outfit is quite good. I really like the two fabrics together and the colors. The skirt treatment is fantastic. But I think the scoop on the bodice hits in a funny place. It makes the plaid fill in look big and clunky…and plain. I know it echos the diagonal strips on the skirt but I wish they had done something with it… or brought the scoop up or something…. I dunno. The placement bothers me. And I dunno about the black lace scarf thingy. Just nitpicking. It’s subjective. And it is good outfit. She looks good in it. She has some of the best costumes in the show.

    Reply
  4. Gail

    Carrie Coon (Bertha) was pregnant …. so possibly influenced some design issues? In Episode 4 she hides behind a fan ….Peggy has the best costumes in the show!

    Your recaps are more fun than aspects of the show …. unless one is playing ‘Spot the Broadway actor…”

    Reply
    • Bel

      Love playing “spot the broadway actor”! There’s so many of them in this show, and I think they’re doing a better job than most of the others at making the period mannerisms and accent seem natural and unforced.

      Reply
      • Beth

        Your’re absolutely right! Theater actors, especially those classically trained (like many of the best cast members), often learn the transatlantic accent, or dictation methods inspired by it, because of its clarity on stage. The others, mainly the young crowd (barring Peggy) and good lord that hateful lady’s maid, clearly lack the same amount of practice. I believe Carrie Coon is purposefully playing it up to imply that Bertha leared as an adult, which would be more effective if Taissa Farminga had a better handle on the accent (luv her tho) bc It’s safe to assume Bertha would have put Gladys through finishing school. Celia Keenan-Bolger and Michael Cerveris have really stood out to me so far in terms of naturalness, and Denee Benson in terms of precision.

        Reply
  5. valarielynn

    I love that they thought to include a watch on Mrs. Ainsley, George’s secretary. But they weren’t wearing little watches & pins like that until mid-late 90s, and they would be up above their bust. They were worn on long chains, and tucked into a pocket. ~Val

    Reply
  6. Bel

    Marian just continues not to work for me as a character–I’m sure her complete lack of understanding of the social rules around her is supposed to come off as relatable to the audience and also unconventionally bold (boring choice for a period heroine, but whatever), but she just seems weirdly ignorant for someone who’s grown up at least somewhat adjacent to all this (I think this is also an area where casting an actress about ten years older than the character backfires. The visual of an approximately 30-year-old woman being shocked to learn about her era’s social hierarchies and sexual mores makes her seem less principled and different than strangely immature).

    I will say I’ve been enjoying all the interior details in the old money New York houses, so there’s that! No idea how accurate those are, though. And I always love a send-up of rich people philanthropizing more for their own social clout than for any kind of greater good, so that’s been a fun throughline in this season so far.

    Reply
    • Bel

      Also on a costuming note, it’s interesting to me that they put Aunt Ada in military-inspired costumes pretty often when she’s clearly positioned as the sweet, unworldly aunt!

      Reply
  7. Susan Pola Staples

    Ada looks impressive and mad as you know what is the full view of the dinner gown. And Peggy should continue to be so fabulously dressed, and continue to write. Octavia, Alice, Maya and Toni never gave up and they’ve created some of the best fiction written. Maybe Oliver can turn into say one of the offspring of Andrew Carnegie, Morgan or Vanderbilt and rescue George from ruin.

    Reply
  8. Roxana

    Queer representation is good. It would be nice if they weren’t always nasty pieces of work. I get Oscar needs a beard but must he pick an innocent young girl?

    Reply
  9. Martha

    I keep wondering if they are planning for Gladys to have a Consuelo Vanderbilt story line. The way her mother controls her etc..

    Reply
  10. Eileen

    The costumes seemed themed for each character, with Ada is orange and occasionally green, Agnes in purple and dark blue, Marian in lighter blues and yellow, Peggy often in plaid, the one woman always in stripes, and Bertha in supposed European couture.

    Reply
  11. Juliet Rotenberg

    That obviously rhinestone choker on Bertha, gag!! The jewelry continues to be ridiculously wrong for the period, especially on the very wealthy characters.

    Reply
    • Roxana

      The Gilded Rich wore huge amounts of jewelry at the slightest opportunity according to contemporary sources, including historic pieces that had belonged to assorted queens and princesses.

      Reply

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