How to Dress with Drama

helen mirren by james wedge

Far Left. Printed Italian voile dress with smocked bodice and medieval sleeves, grey/blue, 8-14, Gina -Fratini, £49, from Harrods ; Chic, Hampstead, NW3 ; Sheila Worth, Kendal Street, W2. Centre. Wraparound kimono in Lurex printed with Zandra Rhodes design, pink/lilac/silver or green/ orange/gold, 10-16, Hildebrand, £23, from Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1 ; Kendal Milne, Manchester : Strava-ganza, Harrogate. Right. Crepe de chine dress, se-quinned bodice, black only, 10 and 12, by Alice Pollock, £62.50, from Fifth Avenue, King’s Road, SW3 ; or enquiries to Quorum, 6 Burnsall Street, SW3. Suede wedge-soled sandals, 3-8, f5.99, from branches of Sacha.

Clothes currently in fashion are of such contradictory styles that they seem to demand of the wearer a talent for acting beyond the capacity of most women. It takes a skilled actress to switch easily from cool Japanese geisha girl to 1940s tart and remember which part she’s playing. Helen Mirren, associate member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, shows how it’s done, with a toss of her head, a quick change in facial expression, a swivel of hip and heel. The dresses she wears here all have sleeves that require dramatic gestures : medieval pointed sleeves, kimono sleeves, and sleeves slashed from the shoulder. You don’t have to be an actress to wear these dresses, but it does help.

Photographed by James Wedge.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Observer Magazine, 11th July 1971.

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