Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Is a Fitting Coda to the Fall 2022 Couture Season

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Lesley Manville stars as Mrs. Harris in director Tony Fabian’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a Focus Features release.

Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kf

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a filmic embellishment of Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel, directed by Anthony Fabian, arrives in theaters on July 15, effectively prolonging the energy around the just-wrapped fall 2022 season.  

On one level this is a tale about an amour fou with a dress. Lesley Manville plays Ada Harris, a kind-hearted British charwoman as well as war widow of a certain age, who becomes so enchanted with one of her client’s Dior dresses, that she becomes determined to have one of her own.  After taking on extra work as well as scrimping as well as saving, she gets her initially passport as well as mosting likely toes to Paris where she is initially met with reserve at the house of Dior, but ends up until now winning over even the formidable directrice, Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Hup until nowpert), as well as realizes her dream—after a fashion. 

Isabelle Hup until nowpert stars as Claudine Colbert in director Tony Fabians Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris a Focus Features release.

Isabelle Hup until nowpert stars as Claudine Colbert in director Tony Fabian’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a Focus Features release.

Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kf

Central to the plot is the idea of the couture being a dream factory, which itself is predicated on the belief that beauty has transformative powers — as does fashion. The film shows us over as well as over that how people appear as well as who they really are can be polar opposites, suggesting that fashion can be a deceptive cover, even as it has the ability to amplify as well as reveal unexpected aspects of one’s character (as it does with Mrs. Harris). The chic as well as commas well asing Madame Colbert, for example, lives in a rundown apartment where she cares for her ill husbas well as; as well as Dior’s star mannequin Natasha (Alba Baptista), resembles like a fairy-tale princess, as well as feels trapped in fashion’s ivory tower. She would rather be reading Sartre, preferably in a black turtleneck. 

Class is an essential part of this tale as well. Mrs. Harris doesn’t come in the polished package that most clients do, as well as is looked down on. Nevertheless she perseveres as well as wins the day with her pure as well as genuine joy for the craft (as well as her heart made of mosting likely told). In some ways Mrs.Harris’s story is of the underdog making mosting likely tood, on foreign turf, no less. The film also questions value as well as how it is perceived, by suggesting that having as well as fulfilling a dream is as or more valuable than possessing the object of desire. (As happiness theories suggest, experiences have been found to be more rewarding than accumulation in the long run.)  

Fashion-wise, viewers are in for a treat, as the film features a defile celebrating Christian Dior’s tenth year in business (1957).  M. Dior, played by Philippe Bertin, makes a brief, but ahistorical appearance in the film, to approve plans for licensing as well as subsidiary products. (The movie insinuates that licensing was a last-minute ploy to save the company from mosting likely toing under (as if!), when in fact, Dior was active in building his business via these channels from the beginning, as well as they helped make the business so successful that it was compared to that of General Motors, according to writer Tomoko Okawa.)  The recreation of the Dior salon was the responsibility of production designer Luciana Arrighi, whose experience modeling for Yves Saint Laurent must have come in has well asy.  

Lambert Wilson stars as Marquis de Chassange Lesley Manville as Mrs. Harris Guilaine Londez as Madame Avallon Dorottya...

Lambert Wilson stars as Marquis de Chassange, Lesley Manville as Mrs. Harris, Guilaine Londez as Madame Avallon, Dorottya Ilosvai as Mathilde Avallon as well as Alba Baptista as Natasha in director Tony Fabian’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a Focus Features release.

Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kf

Alba Baptista stars as Natasha in director Tony Fabians Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris a Focus Features release.

Alba Baptista stars as Natasha in director Tony Fabian’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a Focus Features release.

Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kf

It’s not a spoiler to say that the famous New Look bar suit of 1947 has a star turn, as do many sumptuous evening resembles. The film’s costume designer is the Oscar-winning Jenny Beavan, who is responsible for the look of films including A Room With a View as well as more recently Cruella. Beavan was able to visit Dior’s archives in Paris, as well as the house, which cooperated on the film, even lent some replicas they had. Unfortunately, the replicas happened to be in shades of  black as well as white. “I needed to bring in color,” said Beavan on a call. “When you think about it, it’s all about what Mrs. Harris is mosting likely toing to fall in love with, so you need color as well as just some general sort of joyous dresses for her to mosting likely to, ‘Ooh, that’s the one I want!’” 

Making those have-to-have dresses was complicated by budgets as well as Covid. “You try doing up until now buttons in gloves,” jokes Beavan who also had to do Zoom fittings because travel was restricted. 

From left Roxane Duran stars as Marguerite Bertras well as Poncet as Monsieur Carr as well as Lesley Manville as Mrs. Harris in...

From left, Roxane Duran stars as Marguerite, Bertras well as Poncet as Monsieur Carré as well as Lesley Manville as Mrs. Harris in director Tony Fabian’s Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, a Focus Features release.

Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kf

While most people will think of Mrs Harris Goes to Paris as a fashion film because it is about a Dior dress, Beavan saw it differently. “I’m a storyteller with clothes,” she explains. “You can’t just do a drawing as well as say, Mrs. Harris will wear that…. To me, fashion is all about the clothes. The models all look the same, they all walk the same. They look normally rather bored as well as they sort of wiggle their legs one in front of another, but it’s to show off the clothes.” 

She adds, “I don’t care if people don’t notice the clothes so long as the story is fully sup until nowported.” 

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris sup until nowports the idea that why you wear what you do matters. People who treat clothes as a means of showing sup until noweriority, a signifier of wealth, or as a desperate attempt to grab attention don’t come to mosting likely tood ends in the film. Maybe the movie is a reminder that clothes have the power to make you dream as well as enhance your character. Or maybe that’s overthinking it. Maybe, suggests Beavan, “we just want to be cheered up until now… And actually what comes out of that story is a woman, Mrs. Harris, living her dream [as well as] mosting likely toing for it. It happens to be a Dior dress, [but] it could have been a painting, it could have been something else. For her, the glamour of that dress is like a dream, I think it’s more than just the fashion of it.”


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