31 August 1991
In the spring of 1920, Beatrice and Evangeline Elliott are aghast to find that their late father has left them nearly penniless. They had always assumed that their father, a successful physician, was well-off but they learn that he also had a secret life and spent most of his fortune. The immediate problem is financial as they search for work but their father had forced them to live a very sheltered life and they're really not qualified to do much of anything. Through good luck, a new friend introduces them to her brother, Jack Maddox, a well-known society photographer who is in need of a receptionist.
7 September 1991
Bea starts her new job as Jack Maddox's receptionist and immediately makes an impression on his clients with her stylish attire. Evie begins to develop a social conscience when Penelope Maddox exposes her to the poverty of the working class. The sisters face yet another setback when they learn that their late father's financial situation is worse than anyone had imagined. Evie finds a letter addressed to her father and learns not only of his secret life, but shocking news about the family situation. After Jack take them to a party, Bea and Evie start to receive orders for designing clothes.
14 September 1991
Evie finds herself a job as an apprentice seamstress when her aunt Lydia recommends her to her own dressmaker, Mrs. Partini. Evie enjoys her work, even if Mrs. Partini is is a bit difficult. She urges Bea to apply for a job as a designer, but she is reluctant given her commitment to Jack. They are shocked when their father's mistress, Mrs. Pearce tell them she is making a claim against their father's estate. With their deteriorating financial situation, the Elliot sisters are forced to sell their home but their solicitor and cousin, Arthur, is less than honest with them about the details of the sale.
21 September 1991
The Eliott sisters have to face up to more of their father's past when their half-brother Sebastian shows up on their doorstep. Bea is quite skeptical as to his motives, despite his gentlemanly demeanor. Both Evie and Bea are thrilled when out of the blue they receive a call from Mr. Duroque, a well-known couturier, offering them employment. They enjoy working for a major fashion house, despite the low wages and lack of praise for their work, but come to a crossroads when one of the clients asks Evie to design an ensemble for her away from the fashion house. Cousin Arthur seems to be mixed up with some rather shady characters and is involved in the ownership of a nightclub.
28 September 1991
As the new year approaches, the Eliott sisters find themselves working out of their flat on individual orders. Worried that she hasn't heard from their half brother for some months, Evie sets out to find him. She learns something about him but he also surprises her with some unexpected information. She also worries Bea by disappearing for the better part of a day. Cousin Arthur seems to be spending more time at his nightclub. Having decided to open a proper business, Bea is distressed to find that no bank will loan them money. Evie receives a proposal of marriage from an unexpected source.
5 October 1991
In her continuing effort to find money for their new venture, Bea visits Sir Desmond Gillespie, Evie's godfather. A merchant banker, Gillespie agrees to put the Eliott sisters proposal before his Board, but only if Arthur Eliott agrees to act as their guarantor. Arthur isn't predisposed to helping them nor is he prepared to help Sebastian Pearce, who has now admitted that the late Dr. Eliott was not his father. Sebastian gets his revenge however by informing the police of the goings on at Arthur's nightclub. With his case now before the courts, Arthur's difficulties have a direct impact on the dressmaking business when clients begin to cancel their orders. Arthur finally tells Bea and Evie of the money he has invested on their behalf.
12 October 1991
The House of Eliott is formally launched with a well-attended reception but Penelope Maddox has a bit too much to drink and doesn't hesitate to express her view that it is all a waste, given the poverty that exists all around them. As a prison visitor, she hears a tale of Sir Desmond Gillespie's ruthless business practices and decides to confront him. Bea is concerned with Evie's attraction to Sebastian and the amount of time she is spending with him. An actress orders a series of photos from Jack and a complete wardrobe from the Eliott's; having delivered the goods however, the question is now whether they will get their fees.
19 October 1991
The business is going well and the Eliotts are enjoying an ever-positive reputation for their innovative designs. A new client in particular, Mrs. White, is giving them both her custom and recommending them to all of her friends and acquaintances. Bea is shocked however when her husband Philip calls to collect her and she realizes just who Mrs. White is married to. Penelope Maddox is at her wits end and is approaching a nervous breakdown in her attempts to help the poor and the homeless. Evie continues to see both Hugo and Sebastian regularly. When Sebastian suggests that she accompany him to Paris for a weekend, Bea flatly refuses to give her permission until Sir Desmond Gillespie comes up with an acceptable solution. The planned trip however results in disaster and heartbreak.
26 October 1991
The Eliott sisters are at odds over the future direction of their fashion house. While they agree to launch their own designs within 6 months, they cannot agree on the style of clothing that will differentiate them from other couturier. Bea wants to stick to more conservative, traditional designs while Evie is all for trying something new and radical. As well, things are not going well in the sewing room. Tilly seems to be seriously ill with severe headaches and the quality of her work is suffering. Madge has been re-doing much of Tilly's work and is fed up to the point that she is looking for employment elsewhere. Penelope Maddox has worked herself into her sickbed trying to get her mission up and running.
2 November 1991
The Eliott sisters are still bickering over the direction of their new enterprise. Evie wants to go forward with flair and provocative designs, while Bea feels they should cater to their more conservative clientèle. Their relationship hits a new low when Evie moves out. Jack has a vision for a new film and dreams of being able to produce it. Bea provides him with a solution on the money front but Jack faces other difficulties. Aunt Lydia offers to host a charity ball in her home and puts a great deal of time and effort into its organization only to find that the social stigma of her son's criminal conviction has yet to wear off.
9 November 1991
The sisters are working furiously towards finalizing their collection of original works. The growing affection between Bea and Jack is obvious leading him to ask her a very important question. Bea and Evie are thrilled when they meet Victor Stride, a renowned fashion journalist who takes a great interest in their work. The article his magazine publishes, over his own objections, links the House of Eliott to the distasteful activities of their cousin Arthur and threatens the fashion launch. Jack Maddox finds a backer for his film. The Mission founded by Penelope Maddox takes on a new administrator who has her own idea of how things should be run. Penelope agrees to the holding of a charity ball as a fund raiser but then proceeds to berate all those present for attending. Madge crosses the line when she takes on work privately but then uses some of the girls in the sewing room to complete the work. She also learns a lesson in the risks of running her own business.
16 November 1991
The sisters forge ahead with ahead their planned show and receive an added boost when Victor Stride makes a public apology. His offer to promote their line in his new magazine is viewed somewhat skeptically, especially by Bea. On their big night, the Eliott's are accused of plagiarizing another designer's work. In their desperation to find out how their designs were stolen, they manage to offend several people close to them. Penelope Maddox is still railing against the establishment but receives an offer to teach in Africa. Jack learns the identity of his film's principal investor. Aunt Lydia plans on visiting her son Arthur in the USA and confides in Sir Desmond Gillespie that she may not return to England.
6 September 1992
It's now the spring of 1924 and the Eliott sisters are still basking in the glow of the successful launch of their collection. When they learn that a famous French clothing designer, Gilles Caragnac, is visiting London they make sure they get the opportunity to meet him. He shows great interest in their work and it turns out that he clearly has his eyes set on recruiting both of them for his own House in Paris. Jack is worried that Bea may never return from a visit to Paris and decides to pursue her. Both Bea and Evie adore Paris and must decide if they are going to abandon the House of Eliott.
13 September 1992
Now back in London, newlyweds Jack and Bea must decide on their living arrangements. Jack wants her to move into his flat and away from the House of Eliott. Jack is visited by an old friend, Clara Rhoades, who clear wants more than her photograph taken. She also recommends to Bea that the House of Eliott needs a full-time vendeuse - an experienced saleswoman - who has an established list of clients. She recommends Alice Burgoyne and Bea spirits her away from her current employer to work for her. Turns out that Clara doesn't exactly have Bea's best interests at heart. The atmosphere in the workroom is strained as Tilly and Florence Ranby continuously squabble. Bea receives an unexpected visitor from Paris and shocking news about Sir Desmond Gillespie.
20 September 1992
Bea and Evie are still suffering the aftershocks of Sir Desmond Gillespie's death when his partner, Ralph Saroyan, tells them their money is invested and cannot be accessed without incurring huge losses. Jack is having a difficult time on the set of his new film having to deal with a drunken actor and a prima donna as the lead actress. He does get get good news from the studio, however. Evie is asked to design a gown for Frances Duglass' coming out and is invited to spend a weekend at he family estate. The girl is at a rebellious age and her father is quite withdrawn due to his war wounds. Evie helps the family and also takes a liking to their son, Leonard whose love of fast cars seems to be his only interest at present.
27 September 1992
Evie continues to see James Duglass, but his love of fast cars and racing worries her greatly, all the more after he has a serious crash. Bea finally gets to meet Jack's parents after they return from visiting Penelope in Africa. All goes well, but Bea's views on the social responsibilities of employers vis-à-vis their staff does not agree with that of her new in-laws. She begins to re-evaluate her opinion when she learns that one member of staff has a particularly demanding home life. The workroom is aflutter with the news that Tilly is engaged. Bea and Evie are working on their second collection and decide to change direction when Bea is inspired to try something different. Their new financial advisor, Ralph Saroyan, is none too pleased with the added expenditure.
4 October 1992
Jack and Beatrice spend their first wedding anniversary at their cottage but things don't go well when the issue of children comes up. Jack is also tired of always taking second place to the House of Eliott. The missing earring from the presentation of their last collection suddenly turns up and it is traced to one of the seamstresses. The sisters become concerned when they realize the extent of their outstanding invoices but Ralph Saroyan suggests they use the line of credit his predecessor arranged for them. They are also excited at being commissioned to design the costumes for an entire ballet. Bea's long hours leads Jack to jump to the wrong conclusion. The big day arrives for Tilley and her fiancé.
11 October 1992
The sisters challenge their accountant Joseph Wint over his dismissal by Ralph Saroyan but he claims that it was because he was in a position to expose Ralph as a fraud and promises to find out more. Jack's film is premiered at Montford Hall, owned by M.P. Alexander Montford and his wife Elizabeth who becomes a regular Elliott client. However Evie and Alexander get dangerously close whilst Bea and Jack argue about everything. A dispute in the work-room between head cutter Florence and seamstresses Tilly and Madge leads to Florence resigning and rushing out of the building, to be knocked down and killed by a car.
18 October 1992
Florence's embittered widower accuses the Eliotts of her death at her funeral but Tilly and Madge tell him the truth. Joseph steals Ralph's portfolio and brings it to Jack but Bea and Jack continue to argue as Bea thinks that Jack is defending Ralph. The Duchess of Bridgewater patronizes the house but after seamstress Agnes has overheard gossip about her and sold it to a journalist she is angry and withdraws her patronage. Eventually Agnes comes clean and is allowed to keep her job. Evie confides in Jack about her affair with Alexander, who comes to see her at the Maddoxes' cottage.
25 October 1992
The house employs widowed tailor Charles Quance as the replacement for Florence. Ralph's fraudulent activities in his efforts to bankrupt the Elliotts and take control of the business are finally exposed, as is the fact that he killed Sir Desmond, but he flees to Germany to avoid arrest. Alexander confides in Jack that he spent the week-end with Evie. Unaware of her husband's adultery, Elizabeth invites Evie to a function, which she apprehensively attends. Bea eventually finds out from Alice about her sister's affair and the women have an angry confrontation. The affair becomes public with Evie determined to remain with Alexander. Jack and Bea, however, concede that each is more concerned with their professional life than in saving the marriage and agree to a trial separation.
1 November 1992
Elizabeth tells Bea - who has moved in with Evie, following her separation from Jack - that she will never give Alexander a divorce but Alexander himself tells Evie that he intends to eventually marry her. The General Strike takes place and, coupled with the aftermath of Ralph's dishonesty, business is bad for the house. Wages are temporarily reduced, causing inevitable resentment among the workers, particularly from the vocal Betty. Jack is persuaded by a film director friend to make a movie about the strike in which actual footage will be used, alongside dramatic scenes featuring actress Emma Casson.
8 November 1992
The sisters' problems are increased when rival couturier Maison Gille opens in competition to them, poaching some of their customers and resulting in Agnes and Betty being laid off. Evie and Alexander are seen in public and plastered all over the papers, forcing Alexander to resign his job at the treasury. Jack is becoming drawn to Emma but still feels some responsibility towards Bea and offers financial help, as does Alexander, who feels his indiscretion has contributed to the sisters' misfortune. However, with the scandalous publicity attracting a new, theatrical clientèle, Evie and Bea turn down their offers. Then Maison Gille offers to buy the House of Elliott.
15 November 1992
The fortunes of the house improve as the sisters design day wear and are commissioned to provide the costumes for a new theatrical production starring the famous actress Caroline Troy, enabling them to reinstate their workers. Bea accepts Jack's investment offer though it causes friction with Evie. The sisters attend the first night of Jack's film 'The Striker', from which Emma is absent. Jack is offered work in Hollywood though he turns it down as the director will not give him artistic freedom. The House of Elliott, however, is invited to design costumes for the film. Alexander is offered a diplomatic post in Rome, which he accepts but he chooses to take Elizabeth with him, not Evie,who is upset as a result.
6 December 1992
The house employs a new mannequin, Liddy Hansen, whose husband Peter was in the war with Jack, saving his life. A reunion is arranged and Peter also gets involved in Jack's latest film, beginning an affair with leading actress Fay. The sisters have been invited to America on the strength of their successful film costumes, to contribute clothes for the Sears-Roebuck catalogue. Peter tries to coerce Jack into letting Fay accompany them as their model but Jack later discovers that another colleague, George, saved his life and Peter was a deserter, so it is agreed that Liddy will go after all. Alexander returns, wanting to see Evie but Bea and Jack refuse, and also omit to tell Evie of his visit. Bea is hopeful that Jack will go with them to the States but instead he accepts an offer to make a film in Germany and so the sisters set sail, hoping to take the New World by storm with their designs.
2 January 1994
January, 1927: The sisters return from their successful American trip with Madge, who feels alienated from her husband after sampling Stateside life. Alice has gone to work for Maison Gille but is replaced by a client's daughter, Jess, who asks Evie and Bea to her birthday party. Jack is also invited but fails to show and nobody knows where he is. Grace Keeble, a talented designer, approaches the house and, after starting off on the wrong foot, is taken on as an apprentice designer. Donald, a director of Sears-Roebuck, arrives to date Bea and Evie goes out with Larry Cotter, who wants her to go into business with him though she refuses. Bea returns to her flat and is surprised to find Jack there.
9 January 1994
Bea and Jack argue over his not seeing her off to America and she returns to Donald. Evie agrees to go into business with Larry Cotter making ready-to-wear clothes and signs a contract. She also meets Miles, a friend of Grace who is a talented illustrator and whom she employs at the house. The staff are having personal problems as the arrival of Madge's unemployed brother Albert causes a further rift in her marriage and Betty's husband is accused of manslaughter. Jack and Bea get back together after he has asked her opinion on his latest script but before they can kiss, Katya, a Russian refugee Jack met in Germany, turns up with her grandfather.
16 January 1994
Betty's husband stands trial for manslaughter. Grace feels under-valued and makes some changes to a fashion show behind Evie's back but the pair are reconciled as the Aurora Collection, the sisters' collaboration with Cotter, is unveiled. Katya's grandfather dies in his sleep and Katya is taken on at the house. There is some racial resentment and she is accused by the other girls when Tilly's purse is stolen but apologies are offered when the real culprit is found. Jack gets Albert building work but he is injured and returns home to recuperate. Evie turns down Miles's advances but is much taken by the designs of another young artist Daniel Page. Donald proposes to Bea but she rejects him and goes back to Jack, to whom she announces that she is pregnant.
23 January 1994
Despite the Aurora collection's success the staff's personal lives are taking a knock. Madge realises that Charles's girlfriend, over whom he waxes so lyrically, has left him and her own marriage is heading for the rocks whilst Betty's husband is in prison, and she is struggling to make ends meet. Tilly has a baby boy and though she is keeping her pregnancy secret it brings out Bea's maternal instincts. When the baby dies Bea realises more than ever that she wants to have her child. Meanwhile Evie and Danioel cause tongues to wag.
30 January 1994
Whilst Tilly grows distant and depressed following her child's death Bea and Jack go public over their forthcoming birth and buy a larger house. After Jack is arrested as a communist following a demonstration, he is commissioned to write a series of articles on safety at the work-place and travels to Glasgow to begin his research. Daniel turns down an offer of a trip to America to be with Evie whilst Charles shares an innocent date with Madge. The warehouse containing the Aurora collection is the subject of a mysterious fire, with much of the stock being destroyed. Soon after Bea goes into a difficult labour but when Jack returns from Scotland, mother and daughter are doing fine.
6 February 1994
Evie and Daniel, now a couple, attend a function given by Lady Romford, though Daniel feels ill at ease in high society, and only agrees to Lady Romford's request to paint her portrait after encouragement from Bea. When Lady Romford dislikes the finished result - largely because Daniel resisted her advances - Bea and Evie fall out. Jack, however, on the strength of his crusading articles, is invited to join the Labour party. Madge finally leaves her husband to live with Charles after a public scene. The new collection is premiered, despite the obstacle of the fire, and the press reviews are good. However Sears-Roebuck make it clear that they want nothing more to do with the house and Bea suspects spite on Donald's part.
13 February 1994
The sisters are shocked to find shops full of the Crystal Collection, a poor copy of the Aurora Collection. Larry Cotter, Grace and Betty are apparently responsible. The clothes in the Aurora Collection are stored at the House of Eliott but they are almost impossible to sell, even at vastly reduced prices. To make matters worse the sisters are confronted by the seamstresses who made the Crystal Collection, demanding their wages, even though the defaulters are Jack and Grace. Publicity gets out which also harms Jack's reputation in the light of his article on fair pay. Charles and Madge also have a problem when his wife Dora, who is not dead as he claimed but deserted him, returns to stake her claim though Charles and Madge combine in a united front against her.
20 February 1994
Betty explains that financial need forced her to abet Grace and Larry, who tricked her, but, in exchange for keeping her job, she helps the sisters trap the guilty pair as they attempt to sell the Crystal Collection to another store. Bea exposes the couple in the press, thus exonerating the House of Eliott as they sell the Aurora Collection to America. Miles is taken on to replace Grace at the house. Jack considers running for parliament and Tilly decides to accept her child's death and move on whilst Agnes is encouraged in her desire to be a professional singer by pub pianist Barney and Evie and Daniel agree to get married.
27 February 1994
Jack is selected as a Labour Party candidate for the Newford constituency. Agnes's singing career flourishes when she meets an impresario and Madge is made manageress of the house's Bayswater work-shop. Tilly visits elderly Lady Westlake to fit her for a new dress. They get on well but Tilly is shocked to find the old lady covered in bruises. It transpires that her maid and her daughter ill-treat her but, as a result of her discovery, Tilly is invited to become Lady Westlake's companion and Norman her handyman, with a house to go with the job. Charles gives Madge a ring despite the fact that he is still legally married. Evie and Daniel tie the knot, which reconciles him with his estranged family and the next day he hears that he has been granted a bursary to study art in Paris.
6 March 1994
The new collection, displayed in a film studio with designs by Daniel, is a success, as is Agnes's debut at the Hackney Empire. Jack stands as a Labour MP against the long-standing member John Crowborough, who employs dirty tricks to discredit his rival. However it comes to light that Crowborough himself is a fraudster and a liar and Jack wins the election after exposing Crowborough to the press. This has a knock-on effect for Tilly as Crowborough is Lady Westlake's son-in-law and the resultant scandal leads to the family seat being sold to recover debts. Lady Westlake must move into a home and so Tilly remains at the house. Miles's parents invest money in the house and ask for a say in its running. Bea and Jack accept but Evie resigns, believing Miles, jealous that she chose Daniel and not him, is behind it. However, when Daniel agrees to forego his scholarship to stay and help Evie, she withdraws her resignation.
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