One of the star attractions at the blockbuster Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition currently at London’s V&A, is the gown Princess Margaret wore to celebrate her 21st birthday. It’s a fairytale of a dress: exquisite, romantic, pure fantasy.
So has Vanessa Kirby, the actress who made a whole new generation fall in love with Margaret on seasons one and two of The Crown, inherited any of her legendary sense of style? ‘Uhhh. Hmmm. I wish,’ she laughs backstage at the Hugo Boss show during New York Fashion Week (the only show she is attending; she is currently out in the city filming). ‘I’m so scruffy.’ A pair of crepe tracksuit bottoms are her current daily go-tos. ‘I just live in them, with polo necks and Converse. They’re really dirty. I don’t look after my clothes very well,’ she confesses.
While ‘off-duty’ might be her preferred gear when it comes to getting dressed, Vanessa does understand that clothes can be a powerful tool for projecting our personalities. ‘Totally. And I learnt that really through The Crown more than anything else because I played a character who so believed in clothes representing her inner state and self, and I wasn’t like that [at the time]. She taught me as a character more about clothes than I had ever known before. She got me really inspired by it,’ says Vanessa. ‘She changed my perspective on clothes forever’.
Working closely with The Crown’s costume designer, Michele Clapton, also taught Vanessa about the importance of a great fit which has translated beyond the screen. Case in point: the sleek, sharp black suit by Boss she is wearing today, which feels both timeless and thoroughly of the moment, elegant but relaxed. ‘I like more tailored, masculine pieces,’ says Vanessa. ‘Nothing too frilly’.
It might surprise you to know that, despite cementing her position on the A-List, Vanessa admits she can still be struck down by big event nerves. ‘You can feel like a fraud. You feel like you’re not fashionable or cool,’ she confesses. Not that you would know it to look at her, and she says finding the right outfit – like the Boss suit – can help diminish nerves. ‘I try to go for the most casual option possible. Simple, chic, monochrome. I always feel comfortable in a suit,’ she says ‘You just know when you put it on’.
So what fashion mistakes has Vanessa made? ‘Oh my god! Endless, endless, endless list,’ she exclaims, but a pair of white flares she shared with her sister and wore on repeat in her early teens (‘I’d be very possessive over them!’) bring back particularly uncomfortable memories. But they don’t sound so bad? ‘No, they were terrible! Because they were slightly too short, [and I would wear them] with a terrible, terrible studded belt’. Like they say, we all have skeletons in our – ahem – closets.