Downton Abbey's Lady Mary -- British actress Michelle Dockery -- is always elegant in her Edwardian long jackets and long straight skirts, her black chiffon gowns worn with Deco jewelry and her hair tightly coiled, her skin beyond pale.
But the Michelle Dockery who appears in a huge fashion spread in the September Harper's Bazaar is another creature entirely. With her dark hair flowing, Dockery is decked out in gowns by Tom Ford, J. Mendel and Alberta Ferretti, looking as contemporary as she does elegant and dramatic.
Well, we can now rule out any of these high fashion looks as what the actress might wear to the Emmys, where she will walk the red carpet for her first personal nomination. As great as she looks in these clothes -- and she does -- she can't repeat herself. We suspect that this go-round, Dockery will wear a British designer, like Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Stella McCartney, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, or even a new-ish Brit designer like Roksanda Illincic.
Everything you ever wanted to know about how Dockery became Lady Mary is in the story, including:
Dockery, 30, was cast in Downton after her winning turn as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion on London’s West End, following a few years spent in television dramas. “Until then I’d played much more vulnerable parts, but I remember coming out of the audition, and Dan Stevens [who plays Mary’s love interest, Matthew, and with whom Dockery previously appeared in the TV movie The Turn of the Screw] was in the waiting room. I said, ‘Who are you up for?’ and he said, ‘Matthew.’ she laughs. “I walked out and thought, 'Oh, that could work.'”
On the secret of Downton's success, she says: “I think some period drama can be quite alienating, but Downton isn’t. This is going to sound quite, pretentious, but someone said that it’s like a soap written by a poet. I used to get quite defensive of people saying it’s soaplike, but it kind of is.”
She is currently finishing Downton’s third season, which will premiere in the U.S. in January. Before that, Dockery will appear on the big screen in Anna Karenina, with Keira Knightley, in November, and in the fall she begins filming Restless, a TV adaptation of the William Boyd novel. Charlotte Rampling plays her mother in the series, which is set in the ’40s and the ’70s, making it quite contemporary compared with the rest of her résumé.
Regarding her Downton character, Dockery thinks Mary would be very modern if she lived today. “She’d be in charge, her own boss. She’d have married very well and maybe had kids, but I don’t think she’d be particularly maternal,” she ponders. “She’d definitely have help.”
As for modern Mary’s style: “Armani. Simple, clean.”