Helena Bonham Carter: A Fugstory

Well. If Emma Watson is the up-and-coming fashionista of the Potterverse, then Helena Bonham Carter is its steward of wackitude. Bellatrix Lestrange is, in fact, the perfect alter-ego name for her — she’s beautiful, she’s strange, and some of her trix are for kids. Let’s take a look back at her hits and misses. Most of them misses, and most of those are misses that then somehow turn around and become hits. It’s fashion alchemy.

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Comments (60):

  1. Natalie

    It has been over twenty-five years since “A Room With a View.”

    Think about that.


  2. Jill

    God, this woman has a gorgeous face. Wackadoo style, yes. But she gives good face.

    Also, I still bring pictures of her in Howards End to the hair salon.

  3. Susan

    She is pure stunning. I am with you on the last statement – I don’t know if it was some kind of hypnotism from the masses of pictures, but I can’t help put her style up there with…SWINTON.

  4. Annie M

    She is very beautiful, very talented and very sui generis. Now can we pause for a minute to think about the hotness that is Bill Nighy?

  5. AMS

    @Susan: I was just thinking the same thing. It’s a different groove from SWINTON’s, but is just as arresting. She is tiny, yet so lush and gorgeous that she just pops off the screen. I love that she has a beautiful figure but it’s never in your face, and she really knows her body and her style and how to dress it. *Swoon!*

  6. Mary

    In the immortal words of Ministry, everyday is Halloween for HBC. Which I think means that she always has the last laugh.

  7. TTBelle

    You’re all right, one thing these pics show is how gorgeous she is. And her expressions are a world of awesome. I get the sense she’s not dressing this way for attention like many starlets, but just genuinely doesn’t give a crap and wears what she likes.

  8. Lida

    I can’t help but wonder if she has an incredibly loyal and understanding stylist who strikes deals with her: “Ok, Helena, if you wear this lovely and not crazyballs dress today, I’ll put you in mismatched shoes at the next big awards show. Deal?”

  9. Minutiae

    I would seriously kill for her hair.

    I am flummoxed that it has been 25 years since A Room With A View, but I remember watching it as a teen and thinking how naturally gorgeous she was, and how I’d love to be that tiny and perfect with THAT HAIR. She’s still gorgeous, and she always pulls it off.

  10. Kelsey

    @ Annie M – I know, right? I LOVE Bill Nighy.

    also, did anyone else notice that HBC is wearing a gold version of the mismatched shoes in pic 27? I lurvs them.

  11. Kris

    I’m surprised that y’all didn’t include anything from her Marc Jacobs campaign. Then again, those only surfaced in the past couple of days; has anyone seen them? http://socialitelife.com/marc-jacobs-shoots-elle-fanning-and-helena-bonham-carter-for-his-fall-campaigns-photos-07-2011

  12. Wendy

    I’m going to be her when I grow up: beautiful, poised, but totally unafraid to have fun with her clothing! Love her. love.

    That plaid suit with the glasses?? It needs to happen on my body RIGHT NOW.
    AND: 1998 dark red corset dress actually leaves 18-year-old me and 31-year-old me in perfect accord.

  13. Tina

    I cant help but notice the juxtaposition of picture #3, Jan 2001 with Heather Graham and the girls starring her down.

  14. alecto

    Goodness, this must have taken y’all (or one of y’all) a hella long time to assemble and commentate. Good work.

  15. LG

    No, no, definitely a genius.

    If you look up “crazy like a fox” in the dictionary, there’s a whole SECTION on HBC. She disappears into her roles more convincingly than just about anyone working today WHILE SOMEHOW still making them totally her own and remaining UTTERLY, DELICIOUSLY WACKADOO in “real life” by which I mean on the red carpet. Cf. the first 20 minutes of Deathly Hallows II.

    Dear Helena,
    Never change.
    P.S. I am an awesome shopping buddy. Just saying.

  16. deputman

    It makes me sad when you all do these retrospectives of HBC and you (always) leave out my favorite pretty look — Oscars 1999 when she was nominated for The Wings of The Dove. Of course maybe you leave it out because it’s so hard to find good pictures of her from that night — http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3391789568/nm0000307.

  17. Softwear

    One of the elements of her genius is that the individual pieces she chooses are quality. Yes, she proceeds to stir them into a boiling cauldron of mismatched fabric and backcombed hair, but the starting point for her outfits is always one (probably very authentically vintage) quality piece or a quality reproduction.

  18. Noire

    I’m SUCH a huge fan of hers. I think shes absolutely stunning, and I love her unique sense of style. Shes such an incredibly talented woman.

  19. Robin

    Girl keeps Vivienne Westwood in business.

  20. alexandra

    you have to admire a girl who wants an image, knows what suits her and sticks to it! she refines it as the years go on.

    i wish i had the balls to stick to my ideal image (admittedly which doesn’t involve mismatched shoes).

  21. Carolina Girl

    Why doesn’t this woman have her own bracket in Fug Madness? Cher and Madonna both qualify for their body of work, but Bjork? Sure she wore that crazy swan dress ONE TIME, but what has she done for us lately?
    I’d like to see the Bjork bracket renamed in favor of HBC. Failing that, expand it a bit and give both HBC and SWINTON their own brackets.

  22. Laura

    I loved her in Lady Jane and that’s a looooong time ago. With Cary Elwes, SWOON. But HBC has gotten absolutely more stunning the older she’s gotten. That face, that hair, that itty bitty waist. I love that she knows exactly what she’s doing and can choose to go high elegant or wackadoo and it’s all good.

  23. DevilsAvocado

    Aw, it’s lovely to see the love for HBC. SHe’s talented, gorgeous, and don’t give a fig what anyone thinks. And the fact that she and Tim live in adjoining linked houses makes me so jealous. Seriously, how cool is that? Loving relationship + own HOUSE without man cooties = happiness.

  24. Lynnie

    So much to say.

    Can’t believe it’s been 25 years since _A Room with a View_, which I fell in love with in college and own on videotape. Remember VHS?

    @Carolina Girl: Ooh! HBC and SWINTON brackets in Fug Madness! Excellent idea!

    @Tina: Yes, WHY was HBC standing next to that magazine of Heather Graham & The Girls?

    Many cute purses, and I rarely have purse envy. Love the fish clutch in #10!

    Boobsbag McSadbangs: LMAO! That is really a tongue-twister, though. Hm, in general, not a fan of bebanged HBC.

    #22: Except for the black boots and red splotches on her dress (blood stains? is this at a premiere of Sweeney Todd?), I’d swear her entire body was sepia toned, including her face.

    #27: Is that a BRONZE version of the red and green shoes? Girlfriend must really like that style.

    #32, #33, #36, #39, #40, maybe #41: Props for wearing the same shoes. Keeping it real.

    In her Wikipedia entry, HBC cites Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette as style influences. May I also suggest Belle Watling?

  25. Noire

    @DevilsAvacado – My boyfriend and I were so inspired by the two adjoining houses situation that we decided to have separate bedrooms in a 2 bedroom apartment. Its literally the perfect living situation because we both have our own space and we get to decide when we want to share it. I highly recommend it.

  26. Starling

    I keep reading HBC as HBiC….which is stunningly apt for HBC. Love. Huh.

  27. Dara

    HBC is an absolute treasure! Thank you for this fabulous retrospective.

    I have to say, she does work some pretty basic style rules into her crazy. She love layers, sensible shoes and appears to dress for the weather. These are rules we should all live by…

  28. Elin

    #12 and #40 aren’t the same top – but they are very similar. She must like the style :)

  29. Bobbi

    I vote genius. Just for the single mindedness of it all.

  30. Sherri

    I’m with Carolina Girl — it’s time to step up Swinton and HBC into their own special brackets. Maybe they hold the wild cards. Something! They are really so consistently wonderfug that they should be recognized.

    As for HBC herself — damn! I love that you can play “spot the piece” with her whole body of red carpet work. Yes, for knowing what she likes, for knowing when she’s being whacky and going with it (I do not believe even once that she stepped out of the house in total bizarreness without thinking “Ok, THIS should get ‘em talking.”) And she does seem happy in her clothes, in her work, and in her life. Gotta love that.

  31. julie

    Jaw-dropping, mind-melting madness. This is SWINTON level fuggery.

  32. vandalfan

    I love her. I love her hair. i love her handbags. I love her mother, with the Stephen Colbert one eyebrow lift. I love the body language in the photos of her, Tim, and Tim’s prior wife, and them with the President of France and his Mrs. I also love Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman, but who doesn’t?

  33. Rayna


    And those Jane Austen dresses KILL.

  34. GFY Heather

    @deputman We can only use what’s in our image subscriptions — so sorry!

  35. Antof9

    Please talk about the Heather Graham magazine cover in Picture 3. Please.

  36. Beth

    Have you seen what she wore to this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival? Because it’s totally her, yet something that I so want for myself.

  37. Cristina

    She is tremendous in every way.

  38. Sandra

    Helena is allowed–not that she needs permission—to go around looking like a kid playing dress-up. She lived at home with her folks until she was well into her 30′s, as her dad had some kind of debilitating condition and need constant care. She took on serious responsibilities at a very young age and has earned some time to revel in whackitude. I sometimes wish she would bring the pretty all the time because the whack does distract from her lovely face. But at least it’s interesting whack, unlikely so very many others.

    Also, Colonel “Edna” Brandon? Whaaaa? In the film his given name is Christopher and in the novel it is never mentioned. Plus, Edna was my grandma’s name, so young Mr. Brandon would have had to toughen up pretty quickly in His Majesty’s Army if he had gone around sporting that moniker

  39. anna

    She is seriously stunning; I can’t thnk of many people cuter than her. Also, she can do practically no wrong style-wise, except… EXCEPT… I wish she’d lose those little round glasses. Everything else is SO her …

  40. Su-Yin Johns

    Can we also give HBC some love for never going orange? Her wackadoo tendencies have never extended to painting herself with fake tan and exposing her thighs. The woman has self-respect to go with all her other fine attributes.

  41. MargaretBeth

    I love her.

  42. Fuh Ugh

    @Kelsey – I KNOW! Those are the gold/bronze version of the red and green shoes in picture 27!! That means we still have 5 shoe combinations from those three pair that we have not yet seen … and that mean at least 5 wacky outfits to go with them. Although, that doesn’t account for shoes worn as hat, or carried as purse, or made into a bodice – there are just so many places she can take it from here!

  43. jnadreau

    I swear, the bitch DOES NOT AGE!!! Also – is it my imagination or does she resemble Clara Bow just a little bit?


  44. anny

    She”s like a little half-pint SWINTON, complete with attitude.

  45. gryt

    She is a gas! Loves her!

  46. yeahandalso

    Love her. The one thing I can’t forgive are those terrible, tiny round sunglasses. They remind me of Dracula (Coppola version) and whenever I see that I think “Dracula shouldn’t be wearing sunglasses”.

  47. The Moonay

    She is, like, super bffs with Vivienne Westwood. Right? RIGHT?

  48. kscoaster

    Personally, I don’t think either HBC or SWINTON belong anywhere near Fug Madness. I imagine them in Fug Sumo – where true masters of fashion whackness pummel each other into submission.

  49. Geemee

    I think she’s awesome in every way. “Lady Jane” is one of my fave movies ever, along with “A Room With a View.” However, to me one of the great tragedies is that she does not take full advantage of That Hair. She should quit it with the crazy bangs already. I admire that not only does she reuse her clothes and accessories, she remembers what she’s got and knows where it is. I think we all know how hard that can be.

  50. Sharon

    HBC rocks – she doesn’t care what the rules are supposed to be, she goes ahead and wears what she darn well pleases, and is happy with herself, and it shows.

    Good on her I say!

    Ps – totally jealous of most of her wardrobe, I’d love to own any thing by Vivienne Westwood never mind having the same thing in a few colours!

  51. Jenna Horko

    Man, she is gorgeous and has fabulous hair whenever she hasn’t gone apesh*t on it!

    Now I want a “Fug the cover” about the Heather Graham crouchy thing, feel the need to rewatch “Sense and Sensibility” and am trying to incorporate “brownie candleshoe twitternub” into my everyday conversations, so thanks a lot, girls.

    Also, I’m kinda genuinely loving many of her looks (e.g. 28, 33, 34, 37 and 41) in a completely non-crazy way. Although in pic 9 I suspect I love her look more simply because it’s a respite from her mom. Or more precisely, her mom’s conical bra, which is visible through her sheer blouse. Yikes!

  52. Tee Cee

    A dream day for me would start out at HBC’s house, where we’d go through her closet, (which I am convinced has a drawbridge for a door), drinking tea and trying on oodles of corsets, hats, veils and shoes to go with our crazy-lady skirts.
    Then, suitably attired, we’d dash about London, having adventures, and end up getting blasted on gin martinis and running from the cops down a cobblestone street in our mismatched shoes.
    But, that’s just me.

  53. cpro

    I think she is loving the “steampunk” vibe with those round spectacles and the Victorian getups. She should only wear long bangs but prettier without anyway…I like how playful her clothes are, like life is one big costume party.

  54. jean

    Epic! A work of fashion history. Call Tim Gunn ladies.

  55. Andrew S.

    it’s like she dresses this way so people forget that she really is stunning. hmm…. my favorite is slide 37, but she’s had several looks that truly showcase her beauty. werk hun-tee!

  56. mizzoo

    I kind of wish she was my mom.

  57. Deli

    God I love her.

  58. Another Molly

    Oh. My. Goodness. “Avadaing Voldemort’s kedavra.” Pure brilliance, I am adoring all these Harry Potter innuendoes.

    And in slide #34— glasses, plaid suit— HBC is absolutely stunning! Her features are so soft, and her hair a tousled beautiful mess. Wowza! I love her so much.

  59. anne

    can someone please get her a role in the next pirates of the caribbean?
    I NEED her to be with captain jack sparrow!

  60. Laura

    Her skin is just a-MAZ-ing. So gorgeous!

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