Big Screen Inspiration

woman in red dress posing in front of paparazzi

Occasionally, when I think I need to raise my game in terms of putting across the right image (most of the time), I look to the Big Screen for inspiration.

I am a bit of a movie addict – so this is no hardship. The Olympic in Barnes, SW13 is my venue of choice. It’s a little bit more expensive but worth it for a comfortable seat, a few nibbles and a bottle of Sicilian Chardonnay – shared before you start suggesting I am a lush.

Sometimes, I revert to my laptop of a happy hour of inspiration. This is fun and useful. I offer media training and presentation coaching to high profile people (often women) and they all appreciate a few role models.

Here are my top five leading ladies…

  • Rene Russo in remake The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • Faye Dunaway in the original version of the Thomas Crown Affair.
  • Audrey Hepburn in Charade.
  • Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief.
  • Kirsten Scott Thomas in A Handful of Dust.

I have been known to track down the exact version of the fur poncho worn by Audrey H on the ski terrace in Charade and while living in Hong Kong I laid siege to the Celine shop in search of almost any item worn by Rene Russo in the TCA. Before I sound completely vacuous let me say that during this period I was a foreign correspondent covering quite a few dangerous stories in conflict zones across Asia. When my younger son actually found my gas mask (for Korean riots) in my wardrobe I concealed this dangerous dual identity from him by telling him it was a Prada bag. The fact is these two identities co-exist and I have never seen any reason to dilute one in favour of the other.

Back to the films

Rene Russo is without a shadow of a doubt the most elegant woman I have ever seen on screen. I have watched the TCA many times – I sometimes have it running on Netflix with the sound turned down, such is my obsession with Michael Kors beautiful clothes for Celine.

Faye Dunaway is a close second in the original version. In fact, I have been known to steer one or two men in the direction of Steve McQueen’s wardrobe. It is so sublime and while there are many women out there who know how to cut a dash there are many men who aren’t even in the starting blocks of looking well groomed.

Audrey Hepburn looks great in all her films thanks largely to Givenchy and the legendary costume designer Edith Head but in Charade she is breathtaking. I don’t attempt her look too often because that would involve a starvation diet and a lot of backcombing but a close copy of that fur poncho resides in my closet.

Grace Kelly – again dressed by Edith Head – is as pretty as the princess she later became. It is said that while filming this picture she first caught Prince Rainier’s eye. I can see why. Sadly, none of her clothes feature in my wardrobe due to the lack of dates at glamorous casinos and supper at five star hotels. I live in hope.

Surprisingly, I have managed to filch a few ideas from Kirsten Scott Thomas in a Handful of Dust. I have several tweed hacking jackets, many fur tippets (vintage and modern) and some amazing bias-cut satin evening dress picked up from regular trawls through antique shops.

Actual style icons also inspire me. Emmanuelle Alt, the Editor of French Vogue, is unsurpassable in terms of what I call intelligent chic. The late Caroline Bessette Kennedy was a genius at laid-back style and Meg Ryan is coming up trumps. I just wish she would give up the orthopaedic boots.