Fashion on the Orient Express

Fashion on the Orient Express

There’s nothing quite so romantic as early 20th century luxury train travel and the winner is undoubtably the “Örient Express”. Most of you know of Agatha’s Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” which was both a novel and the subject of two movies, the last produced in 2017 and available on Amazon here (watch the trailer).

What rekindled my interest was this video guide which I ran across on You Tube, the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

The Orient Express was one of the first long-distance passenger train services created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. It operated from London to Instanbul.  The Orient Express ceased to operate in December 2009 and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a “victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines”.[7]

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, a private venture by Belmond using original CIWL carriages from the 1920s and 1930s, continues to run from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe, including the original route from Paris to Istanbul. I was privileged to ride this train in the early 80s from London to Paris except the cross channel portion was by ship. It was every bit the experience as seen in the videos and the movies.


The Venice Simplon Orient Express passing through Switzerland


Orient express drawing car

A Drawing car on the Venice Simplon Orient Express

Passenger train travel was in its heyday in the USA from the 20s until WW11 and the time frame for Agathy Christie’s novel was in the 20s with the fashion of that period. It is not uncommon to still see passengers wearing period costumes boarding the train today.

passengers in costume boarding the Orient Express

Here we meet the Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne to learn how she sourced the Thirties garments for the film’s female leads. You can see some of them in this article on Dressing the Women in the ”Murder on the Orient Express”.


fashion on Orient Express

L – The Countess Andrenyi by Lucy Boynton


fashion on the Orient Express

L – The Princess Natalia Dragomiroff by Judy Dench R – The Widow Caroline Hubbard by Michelle Pfeifer

Orient Express costumes


And finally here is a full length feature film (on You Tube) of Romance on the Orient Express. You’ll certainly get a feel for the dress of the period. If you enjoy the 1920s era, then also visit our articles in By-Gone Eras of the Playroom on Sister House



[…] It’s rare to be able to combine my love of fashion with my love of trains but Fashion on the Orient Express does just that. Romance, mystery and fashion in one short article but there are some great links […]

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