Monday, April 16

Ladette to Lady...

While flipping through the channels tonight, I came upon a program that I wish that I had known about sooner on the Sundance channel. It is called Ladette to Lady. It is a British reality show about modern girls becoming a proper ladies after going through an old-fashioned finishing school's curriculum.

Here are highlights from the five episode series:

Episode One
  • The girls are shoehorned into the Eggleston Hall uniform: a tight-fitting tweed suit, sensible shoes and pearl necklace and introduced to the curriculum: deportment, elocution, needlework, flower arranging and cookery.
  • They've got just four days to prepare for their first big test: a shooting party at Burton Agnes, one of Yorkshire's finest country estates, at which they will be expected to show what they've learnt at Finishing School so far, and in particular how to behave around gentlemen.
Episode Two
  • At the start of their second week at Finishing School seven ladettes are faced with a daunting challenge: The ladettes must create quail and pheasant ravioli; nine bird roast with dauphine potatoes; and sherry trifle and langues du chat. Under the fearsome tutelage of cookery teacher Rosemary Shrager, the girls – none of whom can even cook scrambled eggs – have got just five days to master some of the hardest techniques in haut cuisine.
  • Liz Brewer, Egglestone Hall's etiquette teacher considers the forthcoming event: “The whole objective is to actually make yourself attractive and desirable to these young men that are coming to dinner.” “You've got to be sexy, but not obvious. Titillating but not tacky.”
  • Assessing the girls, Liz quickly realizes that this might be their biggest obstacle and the group are all packed off for a mini makeover in order to make themselves appear more presentable and feminine.
Episode Three
  • This week the ladettes get the chance to be chalet girls in Verbier, one of Switzerland's most prestigious ski resorts. Being a chalet girl was a rite of passage for Finishing School graduates... The ladettes soon discover that being a chalet girl is no holiday. They'll have to prepare gourmet meals on an extremely tight budget, keep the chalet in impeccable condition and play hostess to eight demanding men.
  • Meanwhile at Eggleston Hall, scouser Louise Porter, Chelsea Fan Laura Hearsum and barmaid Rebecca Squire have been set an unforgiving timetable of deportment, elocution and flower-arranging lessons.
Episode Four
  • This week the teachers leave the five ladettes alone at Eggleston Hall to host a country house weekend. They will be provided with domestic staff including a butler and must lay on two days of well-planned hospitality for a selection of eligible bachelors. According to Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners “At its best the country house weekend probably represents the pinnacle of Anglo Saxon culture; at its worst it can be torture beyond compare for all concerned”. Leaving the ladettes in charge of Eggleston Hall is a huge gamble and there's little sign they are up to the challenge.
Episode Five
  • Wearing dresses they have made Eggleston Hall the ladettes will each make an entrance and be judged on their poise, grooming, confidence and elocution by a selection of aristocrats.
  • Iin addition to preparing for the Ball the girls must pass exams in all subjects in order to graduate. They've got just four days left to perfect their flower-arranging, elocution, deportment, and to make a gigantic seven-tiered cake which will be on display at the ball threatening to collapse spectacularly if they get it wrong.
Warning: The ladies on this show can be very crude. I don't recommend watching this program with children.


JEANNIE said...

That would be so neat if they had a show like that for here, I would sign up to do it.. Gosh knows this ol rough and tunmbly tom boy could use some etiquette in lady like manners

Anonymous said...

Oh, I want to go to finishing school!
I will have to see if the series comes out on DVD since I don't get the Sundance Channel.

Mimi said...

Did y'all know that the Athenaum (sp?) in Columbia, Tennessee has a summer program for girls that is modeled after an antebellum finishing school. At any rate, I think they still offer the program. The Athenaum was an old school, and it is now being used as a museum.

The young ladies who attend the summer program must dress in antebellum dress throughout the entire time that they are in the program. I think the program is one week, but I'm not sure. Anyhow, they must stay in costume even even when they go about the town of Columbia.

At the end of the program, local boys escort them to a ball.

The only sport they learn is archery, as that was considered the only acceptable sport for a nineteenth century lady to learn. (Horsemanship wasn't exactly a sport, but a necessity).

While the program draws from nineteenth century ideals, the manners and deportment that the girs learn are helpful today.

If you want to learn more about the program, look at the main web site for Columbia, Tennessee.

MamaBirdEmma said...

How interesting, Elizabeth! I did a search on charm schools several years ago hoping to get lucky, but came 8up with nothing. It would have been great to do this before I got married! Thanks for telling us about this!

Anonymous said...

Oh, sign me up for one! Do they have any for Generation X mothers whose education was sorely lacking in the feminine arts? ;)

I would love to learn more about how to be graceful, feminine, lovely, charming, a good conversationalist, how to host a party, etc.

If these types of schools could be revived, just think of the impact they could have on our culture, especially if they were done from a Christian perspective!

Mimi said...

Here's some information I copied off the Athanaum web site in case any one's interested. It still says 2006, so I don't know about 2007: "The 1861 Athenaeum Girls' School will be conducted during the week of July 8 Young ladies leave St. John's Episcopal Church after morning services (Photo by P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean)through 14 in 2006. Young ladies age 14-18 come from all over the country, dressed in authentic 19th century costumes, and study the same courses in etiquette, penmanship, art, music, dance, and the social graces. In addition, they participate in side-saddle horsemanship, archery and other sports. The week is highlighted on Friday evening with graduation ceremonies followed by the formal ball to which they are escorted by members of the Jackson Cadets, a local group of young men dedicated to the study of mid-19th century history and customs.

During the month of May, on May 5th and 6th , a condensed version of the school is offered to women of ages 19 and above. Also attired in 19th century costume, for two days the ladies participate in the same kinds of activities taught by the same qualified faculty as do the young women.

For more information on the 1861 Athenaeum Girls' School and 1861 Ladies' Weekend, you may call (931) 381-4822, or send e-mail to girls"

I'm several decades too late for this. But, I posted it for younger ladies or anyone with daughters in this age range. They've been doing this school for at least ten years now.


JacquiG said...

I saw the first season of Ladette to Lady and thought it was wonderful! I'm glad they are doing another season and I hope that I'm able to see it whenever they decide to show it here.

Like some of the other ladies have already stated, I wish there was something like this available now. I, too, have searched the internet for this kind of thing and found nothing worthwhile. It's such a shame that there is no real value placed on being a lady and learning to be elegant and eloquent and feminine.

Mimi said...

Oh, I missed the fact that the Athenaum offers a condensed version for women over 19. I wonder how "over" you can be?

Here's an idea: What is we all created a blogging "school" -- everyone take a subject that would be studied at a finishing school and learn what they can about it. Then, we could all do a couple of posts on our "subject".

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