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Downton Abbey clothing line to launch

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An official Downton Abbey clothing collection will launch later this year. The ITV period drama has captured imaginations the world over since its debut in 2010 and now fans will have access to the Crawley family's early 20th century fashion. The collection is expected to feature demure dresses and ladylike accessories favoured by characters Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, and Dame Maggie Smith's character Dowager Countess of Grantham.

 Created by NBC Universal and Carnival Films, the producers of the hit TV series, the merchandise will go on sale alongside a new, extensive range of Downton-inspired products, including stationery and furniture. "We'll be working across an entire range of products coming out this year," Gareth Nearne, Downton Abbey's executive producer, confirmed. "From fashion, apparel and homeware and furniture to wallpapers, beauty products and stationery. Some of these things have been available since 2012 – we publish books and have made a music album, but the more complex products take time."

Despite Downton first airing in 2010, show bosses were keen to wait until the series was a hit across the pond before branching out with the merchandise. The third series drew a record audience of 7.9 million in the US. "In retail terms, the first series launched the programme and the brand, the second year ratified it and the show didn't even hit its high point in the US until this year when series three ended," Gareth continued. "It's very rare for a British drama to have this much retail potential and merchandising value [in the US]." A fourth series is currently being filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire and is due to be aired in the UK in September 2013.

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