Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, aside from whisking its audiences away to the French capitol of dreams, takes viewers on a fashion tour that would make any archive-obsessed TikTok fanatic want to storm the halls of the Christian Dior boutique as if they were storming the Bastille. On Thursday their wishes came true in New York City.
During a special screening of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris hosted jointly by Vogue and Focus Features, the production’s delightful costuming was on full display for patrons to enjoy. Bespoke garments used in the film to capture the magic of Christian Dior’s work were highlighted during the film’s viewing and Parsian-themed after-party at the chic Whitby Hotel just south of Central Park. The costumes were created by the Oscar-winning Jenny Beavan, who most recently did the costumes in Disney’s Cruella.
Newcomer Alba Baptista, who plays a Natasha—a model turned friend to Lesley Manville’s Mrs. Harris—and actor Jason Isaacs both star in the adaptation of the 1958 novel by Paul Gallico, which follows a London cleaning lady’s love for couture gowns. Baptista’s fashion-forward character isn’t just a fun persona to channel for the Portugese-born actor: She told reporters the underlying theme, namely the democratization of fashion, speaks volumes about how we can all use style to come together. In the film, Manville’s character goes on a long-winded journey with the Dior team (including André, played by Emily in Paris’s Lucas Bravo) to be treated with respect, despite not hailing from Paris’s high-society, haute couture circles.
“It’s a unifying nature within this industry, and this movie shows the opposite of what fashion can be—that it separates people and puts people into different categories. And Mrs. Harris comes to disrupt everything. And that’s a beautiful message of unity instead of judgement,” the actor said. “I think fashion exemplifies all of this. I can have a completely different sense of style than you do, but there’s mutual respect because there’s a subjective sense of creativity.”
As for Baptista’s gown of choice, her favorite wasn’t on display during the soiree. That honor goes to Dior’s “Puerto Rico” dress from the late designer’s spring-summer 1957 collection. It’s a sweeping polka-dotted masterpiece that the 25-year-old actor gushes makes her feel like she’s in another world.
“The set design was so well-made, and as soon as I put on a piece of art of a dress, I could instantly transport myself and feeling glamorous and beautiful,” she explained. “It’s incredible how Christian Dior was able to manufacture these pieces to glorify the women’s body, regardless of the shape and size.”
Dior, who was popularized after creating the New Look for working women in the world post WWII, takes a front seat in both the film’s trailer and full-length feature, taking Manville’s Harris on a stunning adventure filled with self-discovery and many, many embroidered ball gowns emblematic of the height of fashion in the ’50s.