Avonlea’s enduring quality takes us back to a simpler time, and a place filled with an almost magical realism.
When the doors to the Avonlea costume department were closed in 1996, the staff at Sullivan Studios took stock of an inventory that had been created by designers Martha Mann, Madeline Stewart and Ruth Secord over seven years of cutting, stitching, fitting and primping.
Imagine 7000 pairs of shoes – including period skates, slippers, high-button boots and dance wear; 10,000 costumes – half of which were original designs for all of the lead performers and guest stars; 2000 hats – with enough feathers, frills and furbelows to exhaust a full-time millinery department.
Most female performers who had been subjected to seven years of authentic corsets and heavy undergarments had no desire to keep them. Souvenirs were the rare costume jewelry, eye wear, head dresses, wigs and fans that had been procured at great expense and sold at the production’s close to enthusiastic memorabilia hunters.
In 2011, Sullivan Entertainment launched an online fashion store and blog – Still the Lovely – where a majority of original and authentic costumes used in the show are now available for sale.
In 1990, after bringing two sumptuously filmed mini-series to the screen, executive producer Kevin Sullivan had just completed writing and directing two other feature film scripts.The mini-series reached staggering success around the world. However,despite this his thoughts were far away from the idyllic, small-town world of Avonlea, for which he had just won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. A good friend challenged him, “No one has ever made a long-running television hit out of a classic novel.
Sullivan began to draw together in his mind a parade of characters as well as several of the original cast members to reprise their roles from the Green Gables mini-series. He set the concept for the show in the east coast town where the original had been staged.