How would you describe your own sense of style?
It goes in accordance with my mood. I like colors and anything that makes me feel vibrant. I always thought I had a style that was kind of shy and unprepossessing, where nothing would stand out. Now I’m reconnecting to my childhood self—that little girl who always admired when women walked by in heels, a summer dress, and a nice bag.
Did you do any prep work for the film?
Yes, it was so much fun! Mrs. Harris triggered this curiosity and love that I didn’t know that I had for clothing, designers, and all of the care that goes into it. I read everything within my reach about Dior’s fashion history, as well as what was going on in France during the 1950s. I also read Albert Camus, because his existentialist philosophies were a big reference within the movie.
What was your favorite scene to film?
My favorite scene was the runway show. It wasn’t like, “We’ll shoot this look for two hours and then change outfits”—instead, we shot it as an actual runway show. It was my favorite scene but also the most nerve-wracking. I was petrified because it was almost like a play, where I had to be very confident. When you’re shooting a scene with a lot of takes, you have time to take a deep breath and focus on whatever you need to do. This was chaotic. As soon as you walked the runway, you had to walk back and change into the next outfit, while being careful with your hair and makeup. It was very stressful but exciting. Every time I would glimpse at the mirror and see this amazing gown on me, it was such a big comfort of like, “I don’t recognize myself! The dress is doing everything for me. The dress is the star itself.”
Your relationship with Lesley Manville in the film is so touching. What did you learn from her, and what was your relationship like off set?
Lesley was my biggest confidant in the movie. She had this vibrant energy on set, which you don’t expect from such an experienced actress who doesn’t have anything to prove. On set, she was like any young actor you see out there who’s excited to do the job. She’s the lead and has so much to do, but she was the first one to invite us all to dinner. I consider Lesley the actress that all actresses aspire to be one day. She’s so down-to-earth, wise, and kind. She’s so giving. I had a lot of insecurities in this film, and she was so fantastic to me. Just the cliché of reminding me to believe in myself more.
Did you pick up any tips from the hair and makeup artists on set?
I fell in love with the look that my character had throughout the whole movie—a thick cat eyeliner. It had this beautiful wing, that came right from the corner of the eye. It was like this classic 1950s Audrey Hepburn style. I learned not to be shy with eyeliner. I was never brave enough to do a big cat eye—I would always just do a tiny little wing. But now whenever I have a dinner or something, I do it. It’s beautiful, feminine, and strong.