Stylish Films: Mrs Harris Goes To Paris

The most beautiful, stylish film you will see this month is Mrs Harris Goes To Paris. The latest film version of the Paul Gallico 1958 novel, the story is of a London widow Ada Harris, who works as a cleaning lady. After spotting an exquisite Dior dress in the wardrobe of one her ungrateful employees, Lady Dent ( a dress that costs £500), she obsesses over owning her own bit of haute couture. A series of events collide, giving her the money to actually buy her own dress, but once in Paris, she finds it isn’t as simple as ‘walking into Woolworths’, as a combination of snobbery and elitism work together to ensure she doesn’t get the dress she so wants. But though Mrs Harris may be one of those ‘forgotten women’, women of a certain age who are no longer young, or defined by their looks, she is still powerful and driven in her own way, although this is often undermined by her own sense of kindness. Her story is a lovely heart warming one, one that leaves you with a lovely glow, and wanting a Dior dress of your own.

The film is given its heart by its wonderful cast. Lesley Manville is perfect as Mrs Harris, able to make you smile, and yet able to break your heart through the sadness that she carries with her, the drudgery of her job, the loss of her husband that she has never really recovered from. You are routing for her and her dress from the first time she spots that Dior in Lady Dent’s wardrobe. She is wonderfully supported by Jason Isaacs as bookie Archie, who has a soft spot for Mrs Harris, and Ellen Thomas as her sassy best friend Vi. Rose Williams has an often hilarious cameo as wannabe actress Pamela Penrose, who always speaks without thinking. In the Paris scenes, the incredible Isabelle Huppert is elegance and French chic personified as Claudine Colbert, whilst Alba Baptiste and Lucas Bravo from Emily in Paris enchant as Dior house model Natasha, and the smitten accountant Andre, so kind to Ada when she arrives at the House of Dior. Lambert Wilson is also elegant and lovely as possible love interest, the Marquis de Chassagne.

As you’d expect from a film set around the House of Dior, the clothes in Mrs Harris will absolutely make you swoon, particularly during the fashion show scene where the beautiful styles of the ‘New Look’ are shown in all their glory. In particular, the two couture gowns that catch Mrs Harris’s eye at the House of Dior are both absolutely stunning. I love how these dreams of haute couture are juxtaposed with the cool beatnik style of Natasha when she is off duty (think the bookish Jo in Funny Face) and also with Mrs Harris, who seems to become more stylish the longer she stays in Paris.

Mrs Harris Goes To Paris is a wonderfully dreamy film with the feelgood factor. It is just lovely, the perfect way to spend a dreary Autumn afternoon.

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