A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

There Is Nothing Like This Dame!

Helena, how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways... I love thee to the depths and heights your hats can reach.
I love thee for never succumbing to the whims of the fickle Fates called fashionistas. I love thee for always waltzing against convention and choosing to live life by your own rules. I love thee for being an out-of-the-box mum raised by an equally out-of-the box mum and doing it without apologies. I love thee for choosing to live next door to your husband (director Tim Burton) and not in the same house (an arrangement I have championed all my life).  I love thee for simply being one big magnificent
fabulous woman of talent and je ne sais quoi (but no one else knows either).
And if  God choose, I shall but love thee better when I can wear a hat with as much aplomb as you.

"A Room with a View" (1986)
Alice's "Red Queen"
You know her, you love her (or perhaps she isn't your cup of tea) the irrepressible Helena Bonham-Carter. I first caught glimpse of her in the beautiful Merchant and Ivory film, "A Room With A View" (1986) where she delivered a polished performance that was beyond her years. It was difficult to believe that she was then only considered an ingenue, still learning the ropes.  She has consistently delivered outstanding performances throughout her career. And she has been given accolades from the industry winning numerous BAFTA awards including Best Actress for her stellar performances in "Wings of the Dove" and "The King's Speech". It was a role which left a very favourable impression on Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.  You have seen Helena looking the worse for wear in "Sweeney Todd" and less than gorgeous as the "The Red Queen" in Tim Burton's re-telling of the children's classic, "Alice in Wonderland."She has been twice nominated for the coveted Oscar. Helena Bonham-Carter is one of the few actresses who doesn't have much of  an ego when it comes to leaving the glamour at the door in a movie. She will wear whatever make-up, hair and costume the role calls for and doesn't seem to care if her "correct angle" is the one being filmed. She is, what I consider, an actor's actor. She is a stunning beauty who doesn't care how she looks on film as long as she delivers an authentic piece. But actually, truth be told, she seems to not care how she looks at all , on-screen or off-screen, thereby flying in the face of convention in a vocation where looks have always reigned supreme.

 Second to her performances,  Helena has often been in the headlines for her rather eccentric lifestyle accented by her unconventional wardrobe. She dresses to please herself (and not designers) often wearing combinations that shock, not in their lack of fabric (as with most stars) but in their absolutely over-the-top unorthodox mix. And she will often top it with some hat that she looks like she pulled out of grandma's closet.
Elena and Helena
 And if you think for one moment that her wacky dress sense has been honed simply out of her imagination, you must look to the influence
of her mother, Elena Propper de Callejon,  a French Spanish psychotherapist who has spurned the O.A.P. polyester pants and orthopedic shoes in favour of a bit of flamboyance in her silver years. She certainly will not go silent into the night (and good for her!) 

Helena and Little Nell
Then, of course, if fashion can be passed on from generation to generation, it's possible that daughter, Nell, is already an anti-fashionista in training as seen on a recent outing with her mother. Besides, how cool is a mom who dresses up just like you in pantaloons to go shopping for a treat? (It works when you are under five, after that, it's risky. There may be a point where a child will not find it cool. Ask my daughter.)

So, why all the fuss, why am I wasting so much blogging space on La Bonham-Carter when I have been away for so long and need to catch up with all things politico? It is valuable space that would be better used in saving the world or at least writing about what the Cleggster has been up to in the soap opera that continues to unfold in Parliament? Simple unabashed indulgent levity. So bear with me.

Because, my dears, it seems that Helena has gone and done it again! In true devil-may-care style, she showed up to receive her prestigious and coveted OBE (Order of the British Empire) in a zany Vivienne Westwood tartan that could probably be spotted all the way to the Scottish Highlands. She accessorized it with some long necklaces one with a star, another with some keys, still another with a heart and then as an accent next to all those necklaces was one more necklace...a very staid string of pearls. And, true to form, she topped it off with a tiny black Lolita stovepipe hat. Rather like one Abe Lincoln would wear, if he had only had a teeny-tiny head. She didn't carry a handbag or a clutch, instead she carried her mobile phone with her...her vivid pink mobile phone with bunny ears. And as the Queen reached over to pin the honor on the actress, you could spot the bunny ears on the mobile phone sticking out of her hand. 

It was so abso-bloomin-Bonham-marvelous, I loved it!

Was it Rodgers and Hammerstein who wrote the song: "There is nothing like a dame?" Well, I tell you what, the Order of the British Empire has been conferred on a dame like no other. And for that, I have hope for the rest of us hat-wearing, pantaloon-pushing, bolshy dames.

Well done, Dame Helena.

Her Royal Highness and Helena