Michelle Dockery in Stella McCartney

Posted on January 16, 2013

Our finely tuned red carpet noses detect a whiff of “new stylist” coming from Lady Mary’s direction.


‘Downton Abbey’ star Michelle Dockery attends the in a Stella McCartney shift dress paired with Jimmy Choo pumps.

Stella McCartney Spring 2013 Collection/Model: Karmen Pedaru (OUI)

And sure, the more fabulous kittens will look at this, snort, and say “Please. I could pick out and put on a simple B&W cocktail dress and pumps without the need to pay someone.” And that’s almost certainly true. But Michelle is one of those ladystars who appears to have gotten thrust into the spotlight before she quite figured out how to dress for it. No major disasters in her file, but there were quite a few badly matched items and some general awkwardness. She looks polished and perfect here. Attagirl.

Do NOT like the hem on the runway version at all, though.


[Photo Credit: Andrew Evans/PR Photos, style.com]

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  • M_E_S

    I actually love her hair, mostly because that’s how I always imagine mine looks in my head.  It never does, though.

    • twocee

      My first thought was that THIS is how I want my hair to look.  But then again – I don’t have an army of hair and make-up people.  So I’ll remain happy that at least I manage to wash and comb it every day 🙂

    • Elizabeth Silverstein

      ^This was my exact reaction.

  • Au contraire!  Love the runway hem. Makes a statement.

    • gabbilevy

      I agree… I miss the bottom half of the black oval. 

    • bluefish

      Me too.  Like what the model is wearing much  more — including the interesting use of the sandals.  MD is lovely  but the dress on her way too phallic. 

  • Sobaika

    Very simple and chic. She looks modern without looking anachronistic (of all the Downton ladies, for some reason it’s the most jarring to see her out of costume).

    •  Possibly because her clothes tend to be the most lovely of the lot amongst the women.

  • filmcricket

    I was trying to figure out how Stella McCartney managed to design such a simple & elegant dress, and then I saw the runway version. Answer: she didn’t. 

    • JosephLamour

      Haha, exactly.

    • MoHub

       Yep. My reaction too. After admiring the simplicity of the dress, I looked at the runway version and said, “Now there’s the Stella McCartney I know and despise.”

    • angryparsnip

       hahahahaha… I always think Stella McCartney starts out with the semblance of a good idea then starts mucking about with it till it is completely destroyed and only then is she happy.
      cheers,  parsnip

      • Elizabetta1022

         Yes, exactly. I have liked maybe 3 of her designs in the past however many years she’s been in fashion. I think it’s a matter of taste–and not having anyone telling her that her ideas are bad or need editing. She’s like Josh from PR, only with a famous dad and an unlimited bank account. PS Or perhaps she’s playing a huge joke on everyone and just laughs her way to the bank.

        • Aurumgirl

           I’m convinced it’s the latter.  I don’t think it’s just a matter of taste.  I think, in this case specifically, that it’s a matter of knowing when to stop (which I have to agree is what differentiates a good artist from a mindless scribbler).  Stella just loves to keep going until there’s a sheer, floaty, ugly frill making up the hem of the dress.  Michelle’s stylist cut that the hell off and brought the dress back to “wearable” for her. 

  • E. D.

    Looks great.

  • My first reaction was “thank God she got rid of that ugly hem”!

  • So glad she had the dress altered. It looks much nicer on her than on the model.

    I covet her hair. 

  • She’s so gorgeous. In my fantasies, I have her perfect alabaster skin. I love this dress though. 

  • JosephLamour

    Boy, the hem on the runway version looks stupid. There’s no other word for that. I love it on Ms. Dockery, however. Good work.

  • My first thought was “oooh! Sleek and chic!”

  • Introspective

    like julianne’s globes gown, this b/w number is striking and clean. 

    so glad she (or the stylist) had the good sense to get rid of the tulle fringe. it makes the black part of the dress look like a funereal egg. and would have made this such an out.

  • And its also perfect for the venue.

  • Susan Collier

    The runway skirt reminds me of what Ivy was doing during All-Stars. No likey.
    Michelle’s version is much nicer!

    • If I were SMc, I would have changed the oval shape of the black. It makes her look droopy on top.

  • teensmom99

    Waist up looks great, but Stella strikes again. The way the black oval hits, makes the hips look wide even on the superskinny model.  But definitely a vast improvement. I’ve noticed that the Brits are often kind of boho  (not in a good way) in their 1st rc appearances and then they shape up (or not).

    • Aurumgirl

       I also thought this dress made Michelle look hippy and pear shaped.

  • mhleta

    There’s this wonderful children’s book called “Put Me In the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire featuring some sort of lionish critter that can do all sorts of wonderful things with his spots, and the runway version of this dress reminds me of that, in a good and whimsical way. Unfortunately, the whole concept of the initial design becomes nil and pretty boring when you chop it up. The dress on Miss Dockery is the sort of basic every woman should have as a go-to piece when inspiration and creativity fails.

  • greyhoundgirl

    She looks beautiful–love the shoes with this.

  • SewingSiren

    The original would have been a lot more fabulous. Seems like the watered it down for a formalish business meeting. She looks good , but I think she could have worked the original.

    • MilaXX

       It would take a higher level fashionista to make the runway version work. She was smart to leave that to the pros.

      • Adriana_Paula

        I think you are absolutely right.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    New stylist, definitely. Or at least someone who knew to put a kibosh on the runway version’s hem and general wackiness. Love the shade of the shoes too. Attagirl.

  • I also hate the runway hem, and the runway shoes are just AWFUL. 

    Michelle looks very nice here!

  • eowyn_of_rohan

    Most Stella dresses are improved by altering the runway version.  For example, by setting them on fire.  In this case I suppose a simple hemming suffices.

    • demidaemon

      What I wouldn’t give to have a Stella McCartney dress-burning, kind of like the book burnings of yesteryear. Except, in this case, we would actually be making the (fashion) world a better place.

  • MilaXX

    This is the first I have liked her in anything. Before she always looked like Lady Mary, Sunday’s GG appearance included.  Everything always looked so stiff and formal. This looks young and modern. Well done new stylist, you have removed the stick out her butt.

  • GorgeousThings

    Agreed! This is much better than the runway version. That’s my general problem with Stella McCartney – she has an editing issue. But this looks great. I’m not in love with her lipstick, but at least she doesn’t pull a JLo duck look, so that’s a good thing!

  • MoHub

    Definite improvement on the runway version. However, it reminds me of things I wore circa 1966, which is really not a bad thing.

  • nannypoo

    I like it. It’s simple and fits just right. I like the accessories. The runway version is silly, and whoever made the changes did a good job seeing the potential.

  • Laylalola

    Really? The hem and sheer additional white fabric on the runway version really makes the dress for me. 

  • Stubenville

    The rework made all the difference  Why do stylists keep putting people in Stella when so much of what she designs is just odd looking and unflattering? Is she THROWING clothes at them?

  • StephanieLovesTLo

    Personal best for Lady Mary!

  • Annabelle Archer

    Big. Black. Dildo. It’s all I see.

  • Watts

    Well, hello, Winona Ryder’s long last cousin.

    • mhleta

      Right? I was thinking the love baby of WR and Jennifer Tilly.

  • EEKstl

    I actually don’t mind the runway version, but agree that MD did right by doing the classic cocktail version.  She looks lovely.

    • MilaXX

       smart to realize the runway version needs to stay on the runway

  • Anathema_Device

    She looks fantastic. I agree that it isn’t a difficult look to figure out, but that is where so many stars run into problems: They try far too hard. She is wearing a somewhat interesting dress, but you really notice how lovely she is.

  • alyce1213

    A big nothing, nada, zero. Stella.

  • thecitysleeps

    This is a lovely little dress with a lovely pair of shoes.  Love her hair and lip shade also.

  •  Wow, a Stella McCartney dress I actually like. This might be the best example of changing a crazy dress from the runway and making it wearable. Simple and lovely!

  • decormaven

    Very polished look. Lady Mary has some fabulous hair! So healthy & shiny.

  • Spicytomato1

    She looks lovely…but I am surprised by her hair. Is the bob new? I thought she wore it loosely pulled back (meaning still long) at the Golden Globes. Maybe I’m not adequately caffeinated yet.

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    The dresss is definitely much improved by removing the hem from the runway.  She looks lovely!

  • jw_ny

    Pretty.  I dislike the lip color, but the past few RC appearances have been improvements…so no quibbling, really.

    She seems to be marketing herself for the next phase of her career…post DA.  

  • Judy_J

    I like the version Michelle is wearing much better than the runway version.  Her hair is very pretty, too.  Very mid ’60s.

  • Puck Thornton

    Gorgeous, glossy hair, lovely warm colour. Makeup looks good. However, white is not her colour and the dress looks kinda cheap.

  • bertkeeter


  • She looks awesome. Haircut totally works for her, and the dress is great. She finally nailed it.

  • DeTrop

    I wore something very similar to a wedding back in the day.  B&W is always fresh looking and you can make use of your fabulous black silk pumps or black strappy sandals, which we all have.  She looks pretty but I’m not liking the hair style.


    LOVE this hair for her, very flattering and chic.

  • Well as usual, if you edit a Stella, sometimes they work. (not often, but sometimes). Though not exactly a design feat, it’s a classic, simple dress she looks fantastic in. I think for the most part I’m pretty good at dressing myself, but I would hire a stylist in a minute to help me be red carpet ready….there is just no way it’s simple. 

  • Le_Sigh

    Ugh.  Stella mcCartney.  I’d like the oval if the bottom of the dress wasn’t sheer.

    She looks great here!  

  • She does look wonderful.  And the person who took the scissors to that ridiculous hem should be given an award.

  • kikisayshi

    The bottom of her skirt is SO much better than the runway version. I agree, she looks nice, but I’m also getting a little “matronly” (to  quote the fabulous Mr. Gunn) vibe.
    ETA: I think it’s the hair

  • It’s interesting how similar this is in general blocking to her Golden Globe dress (which had the gold up around the neck with the same kind of curve, etc. Wondering why they’re trying to draw all that attention up to her face. I mean, nothing wrong with her face, but her body is amazing. Interesting. 

  • Love the pumps! What color are they? 

  • Qitkat

    Bizarro dress on the runway. Michelle’s only a slight improvement. That curve at the top is not really flattering.
    She is lovely, however.

  • unbornfawn

    I was almost going to compliment a Stella McCartney dress. Until I saw the runway version. The changes made by the stylist or whoever, really improved this dress. She looks great.

  • CassandraMortmain

    She is so, so lovely.  Even though the thankfully altered version of the dress is something that many women could have in their closet, its simplicity really works.  Love the shoes, earrings amd clutch.  They kick the look up a notch.  Don’t love the lipstick but the rest of the makeup is perfection.  Love her.  Would love to see her bring her cabaret act to NY.

    I know that Claire Danes will probably win the Emmy but I thought she was really bad in the second season of Homeland, which turned out to be a bit of a trainwreck.  I really wish that Michelle would win – her performance was much more nuanced and showed much more range.  But ol’ crazy-eye will probably go home with the gold.

  • It’s great AND properly hemmed; how Lady Mary would dress were she alive today.

  • I think she looks absolutely lovely. Very simple and sophisticated. Kind of reminds me of a Marimekko pattern.

    I have some questions — if a dress is altered from the way it appeared on the runway, does that mean the actress actually bought the dress and can do with it whatever she wants… and still say it’s from the original label (i.e. Stella McCartney)? Can a garment be altered if it’s on loan from a designer? Or is it possible Stella changed her mind about the bottom half of the dress and altered it after it went down the runway, and this is how the dress will be sold?

  • Zippypie

    She looks like she works at my midtown office.

  • marilyn

    Is she underdressed?  This looks like a formal occasion.  She is not quite formal enough.

  • Patricia Gillett

    If she had kept the bottom of the runway version, once she added the black shoes she would have looked like a walking exclamation point. The changes were smart. 

  • Really happy she lopped off that awful runway hem. That lip color is divine.

  • Lisa M. (ReVoir) Kramp

    Polished and perfect indeed. Brava!

  • pop_top

    I love that she doesn’t have that hem. It doesn’t need it imo.

  • This rendition of the original design is much better, insomuch as she doesn’t have a black hole in the middle of her body.  

  • warnerave

    love her!!

  • SO much better than the runway version. Michelle looks great. Very polished.

  • love the hair but seriously are her eyes more red than brown…creepy

  • guest2visits

    Looks great; simple and very flattering.

  • Trisha26

    Very nice. That runway look is a craft project.

  • demidaemon

    That was a good choice on her or her stylist: redesign the cray-cray that McCartney usually sticks on her dresses. Result: Something I actually like but clearly not what the designer had in mind.

  • AnneElliot

    I LOVE her hair.  Wish mine would do that.  Sigh.  

  • kathrineb

    I love a simple monochromatic look, but I feel like may be missing something (and I don’t think it’s the addition of that sheer hem). 
    Michelle does look lovely and polished. It’s nice to see a lady star without scruffy hair and OTT makeup.
    Interesting to compare it to Joanne Froggatt in Moschino

  • Forget the hem, the shoes on the runway are a disaster.

  • formerlyAnon

    Perfectly fine, nothing super-special dress. (Yes, I see it’s another decent McCarthy)

    Love her hair.

  • librarygrrl64

    Looks MUCH better than the runway version.

  • There is something about the proportion around her shoulders that does not make me love it.  That said, the styling is perfect and she looks great.