Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Loving Her Style: Emma Watson


Welcome back to the occasional series of posts where I pick one of my many style icons and dissect why their look is just so damn fabulous.

This time, its a lady I've been meaning to profile for ages: Emma Watson. In some ways, it feels odd to have such a style crush on a girl that is so much younger than you are, but hey, inspiration comes from everywhere.

And there's such a lot to admire about Emma. I've enjoyed watching how gracefully she's handled growing up in the spotlight, how she values education in an age when the prevailing fashion seems to be ignorance, and how she combines having a social conscience with a keen interest in fashion and beauty.

I like how she was a little adorably gawky at first, a little unsure. She's no Elle Fanning or Kiernan Shipka - she didn't emerge from the womb wearing couture with a stylist on speed dial. No, rather, the public have seen her style evolve gradually and become all her own, from her earliest, geeky-kid premiere outfits to the self assured fashion maven she is now.

So, let me count down why I love Emma's style so much.

 

A Dash of Androgyny

Emma knows the power of the girls-dressing-as-boys narrative, a timeless fashion trope that's been knocking around way before the Gibson Girls and Coco Chanel made it their own. And its a look she does so well, because the way she does it is very self-assured.
Other modern stars have tilted their hats at the theme - Alexa Chung being perhaps the best-known example, but her interpretation can be a little twee for me, a little 'overgrown toddler'.
Perhaps because she is younger, Emma actually steers away from that route. Her borrowed from the boys look is more in the vein of Paul Smith - smart, tailored, and unapologetically masculine with something sugary thrown into the mix at the last minute, just to remind us of her essential girlishness.
Even in peach and lace, there's nothing cutesy about Emma's style - check out the perfect slouch of the blazer and the tailored fit of the shirting in the outfit above.

Subversive and Sexy

Emma Watson and sexy are not actually two words you automatically put together. Perhaps because we've seen her grow from a child, perhaps because the characters she's played so far have been quite buttoned-up, perhaps because we see her as quite studious and bookish, she seems to get a carte blanche to wear what are quite racy styles.
Somehow, she still looks faultlessly elegant, even in leather bodices, cage heels and daringly short hemlines. Perhaps its because she does it with such simplicity - never over the top.

I mean, look here. That look is utter sex - the dark, the lace, the feathers, the cutaway back, the micro hemline. On others, this could actually look quite indecent! But Emma manages to play it to perfection with the sharp pixie crop and understated make-up. She looks powerful here, and she looks like she's enjoying it.


The line between sexy and slutty is pencil-thin, so you have to admire anyone that can walk it as confidently as Emma and come out on top, every time.

Emma enjoys playing with things like leather, lace, strapping, cut-away panels and other sexier details, but she never lets them dominate the look too much. Masterful.

 

Directional

Although most people would describe her style as fairly classic, Emma is actually adept at taking well-thought out fashion risks that really pay off. Only she does it so smoothly, most people don't realise the risk was there in the first place. Behold:

Trousers on the red carpet. It might not seem earth-shattering, but you could count on one hand the number of leading actresses that have made headlines at a premiere in trousers. Go on, count. I'll wait....Done?

Emma rocks the look here in skinny, cigarette ankle-grazers with a structural, show-stopping top from 3.1 Phillip Lim. Why does it work? Firstly, she looks born to wear tailoring- how happy and confident is that pose! Secondly, she knows that in order to pull a trouser off on the red carpet, you have got to bring the drama. So that amazing, statement top adds just the right amount of interest.

Not enough proof of her edgy credentials?
She made multiple headlines wearing this unique design at the Golden Globes a couple of years back. Yes, that is trousers with a full-length frock.
The design is stunningly elegant, clean, beautifully draped and somehow manages to be timeless rather than gimmiky, due to a sprinkling of the Emma Watson magic. She nailed a very difficult look here that a lot of seasoned fashion pros wouldn't have the balls for.
She is completely unafraid - and indeed, seems to look her most at home -  in a challenging hemline. Check out the asymmetric, sheer layers and trapeze hemline above. That's a lot of look for one outfit.

It could easily overwhelm the wearer - but Emma makes it work, by virtue of keeping the rest of the look ruthlessly simple - accessories that don't compete, low-key makeup, unfussy hair. There's something innately stylish about being able to make a complicated piece of design shine.

Likewise this complex cream design. There's a hell of a lot going on here - buttons, textures, pleating, necklines, cut-outs, sleeves. Its as far away from 'vanilla' as its possible to be, and could easily look like a dog's dinner.
But Emma pulls off challenging, directional designs like a dream. Even though this is an attention-grabber, she still looks like she's wearing the dress - its not wearing her. And that's a tricky thing to pull off.

A riot of colour, texture and pattern? Again, no problem. The Watson magic doesn't just work in monochrome, y'know. Its there in full Technicolor for all to see! By using the failsafe trick of simple hair and make-up and complimentary accessories that don't shout, Emma proves her advanced style skills. Notice how the shoes pick up on the black panelling of the outfit, without being too shouty.

Elegant

There is a kind of innate grace that Emma brings to her styling. Something almost regal, and its really quite remarkable that she manages it at such a young age - after all, elegance is one of the things most of us cross our fingers and hope time will bring us to see us through our golden years!
Although there is nothing remotely boring about her style, the essential simplicity of her styling choices produce a very refined look overall. Yes, a lot of it is due to the amazing tailoring of designer clothing, but you just know that even if all Emma ever wore was Toppers and H&M, she'd still manage to make it look expensive.

Just look at this amazing parade of red carpet hits, all very different, all supremely elegant -  the perfect outfit for ordering a rare vintage Bordeaux in, don't you think?
Even when tackling showing a little bit of flesh, she never looks anything less than wonderfully demure - a real lady with a real sense of naughtiness. Its that whole look-but-don't-touch vibe.

That honestly is so hard to pull off, and even Hollywood stars with stylists and big name fashion contracts do not always get it right, by any means. But Emma manages it every time. Insert pun about casting a fashion spell here!

 

Thoroughly British


But the part I adore the most about Emma's style is her Britishness! There's an element to her that is such a UK thing, and its not the kind of nauseous preppy-ness that's packaged up by Americans as referencing our heritage and sold back to us (looking at you, Ralph Lauren!).

It's that devil-may-careness, the little dashes of luxury that whisper 'well made', a kind of stealth wealth that's more about impeccable shapes and clean lines than logos splashed all over everywhere.

A lot of it is to do with outerwear. British weather being what it is, over here we have more need of a coat than some other nations, and you can really make the most of that.

Matching a coat to the rest of an outfit is actually more tricky than you may think - just take a look outside on the average high street for examples of it going wrong. But smart girls -  like Emma -  know, that a stunning coat can be the making of an otherwise plain outfit.

Even when that outfit involves a princess dress:


Of course, it helps if you have a multi-million pound deal with Burberry, spiritual home of the trench coat deluxe...


But aside from just coats, Emma brings that essential blend of impeccable noli-me-tangere alongside fierce cuts, subversive details, experimentalism and irreverence that's been in the British DNA for decades.






And that's exactly why I love Emma's style oh so much.

How's your personal fashion icon? What do you think makes a look 'British' ? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 comments

  1. I love Emmas style too, so elegant! Her speech for the UN recently was just flawless. Xx

    Kitty | kittyhearts.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Yes, you're very right, she's just a wonderful role model. An icon in the making I think! Its nice to see a child star turn out half decent! x

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