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THE TELEGRAPH – hen Lily James was a schoolgirl, years before she turned into Cinderella – and prior to causing trouble at Downton Abbey – she wore an outfit so vile it near enough put her off trying to look glamorous for life.

‘Oh God, it was horrendous,’ she mutters solemnly, before burying her head in her hands at the very recollection. ‘I shared a birthday party with some friends, a disco in the village hall, and we all decided it’d be appropriate to wear pink dresses. Except they weren’t really dresses, they were basically patent-leather miniskirts with awful heels. I have no idea why our parents ever let us go out like that.’

‘From that moment on, I went to everything in casual [clothes]. I gave up heels, and spent the rest of my teens trying to be the most underdressed at any party. I think I wore the whole glamour thing out early, to be honest, and all in one go.’

We’re sitting outside James’s local café on a street corner in north London. She lives just down the road, and today looks decidedly as if the pain of patent-pink-leather-dress-gate might still be raw: chocolate-brown hair bunched in a messy half-topknot, charcoal denim dungarees, a stripy T-shirt and hi-top Converse trainers. Not a wisp of fuchsia in sight.

‘My personal style is still to look fairly, um, effortless,’ the 27-year-old says, glancing down at herself. ‘I never want to look as though I’ve tried too hard. I do love dressing up in costume and learning about clothes from designers these days – I can completely see the artistry in it now.’

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BURO – irected by Asif Kapadia and reimagining key events that shaped the company’s history and values, The Tale of Thomas Burberry captures the brand’s 160-year history and the story of its founder in just three minutes. Starring the likes of Domhnall Gleeson as founder Thomas Burberry, seasoned actress Sienna Miller as his fictional first love, Dominic West as Sir Ernest Shackleton (who wore Burberry gabardine for his three Antarctic expeditions in reality), the fashion film brought to life historic moments — including, Thomas’s invention of the weatherproof gabardine, dressing the military, and outfitting polar explorers and pilots.

But, it’s really actress Lily James that we have our eyes on. She who plays the maverick Betty Dawson, a character inspired by the real life achievements of Betty Kirby-Green, the pilot who broke the world record for a return flight from England to Cape Town in 1937 — in an airplane named ‘The Burberry’, no less. I met James at the Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair London just before her appearance at the launch party on Regent Street, and the English beauty is every bit the gorgeous girl you see in that steamy My Burberry ad campaign. She’s perched across me with the very same red lipstick she wore in the film, a Military Red from the Burberry Beauty lipstick collection. When told that I’m from Singapore, she exclaimed, “My mum lived there when she was growing up, because my granddad was in the RAF and she went wherever he did. He was stationed there for awhile. I really want to go to Singapore. I need to.”

Enigmatic and earnest, the 27-year-old actress who appears in the drama series Downtown Abbey and in movies such as Cinderella, is fast becoming an English style star — just like every Burberry girl before her. In our exclusive conversation with James, she chats about working alongside Sienna Miller, her journey with Burberry, and of course, the plans she has for the Christmas holidays.

Describe the energy on set working with Dominic, Sienna and Domhnall and director Asif Kapadia.
Sienna is such an amazingly warm and friendly person and I really sort of look up to her. It was exciting to have the chance to work with her and watch her on set acting. She is so beautiful in this film. It was a whole bunch of actors that I really look up to and was so happy to be able to work with them. It was just a real privilege.

You were wearing pieces that were closely based on the Burberry Heritage Archive of pilot Betty Kirby-Green. What was it like to breathe new life into Burberry’s iconic heritage pieces?
It was really wonderful as we approach the scenes as if they were a normal drama, so it felt like a costume that so happened to be Burberry. It was incredibly beautiful and well made. I felt lucky to wear for example, the trench she’s in at the train station. It was custom made and was based on the trenches of the time. It was cool to put a twist on the classic Burberry trench.

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Interviews Videos

Full interview of Lily on “Lorraine”. Enjoy!

Interviews Videos

Interviews Videos

During an interview on Wednesday’s Lorraine (ITV), Lily talked about a potential ‘Downton Abbey’ movie and she revealed she “hopes” to be involved in the film. Sadly, we don’t have the full interview but here’s a short video.

Interviews

REFINERY29 – Brit actress and face of My Burberry Black fragrance, Lily James, returns to her role at the fashion house, starring in a new three-minute short written by Matt Charman and directed by Asif Kapadia, the director of the acclaimed Amy documentary.

The epic trailer, entitled The Tale of Thomas Burberry reimagines key events that have shaped the brand’s history and ethos. Lily stars as pilot Betty Dawson, a fictionalised character inspired by the real-life achievements of Betty Kirby-Green, who broke the world record in 1937 for a return flight from England to Cape Town in an aeroplane named ‘The Burberry’. James is joined by Domhnall Gleeson, who stars as Burberry founder Thomas Burberry, while Sienna Miller plays Thomas’s fictional first love. Dominic West stars as Sir Ernest Shackleton, the pioneering polar explorer who wore Burberry gabardine for three Antarctic expeditions.

Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative and chief executive officer explains the significance of the short: “This Christmas, as we celebrate our 160th anniversary, we wanted to tell the story of Thomas Burberry – pioneer, inventor, innovator, and the man behind the iconic trench coat – in our own words… To do justice to this story, we turned to a team of truly great twenty-first century British talent: Asif Kapadia, a director whose work I admire enormously, and a cast of our brightest and our best actors.”

Refinery29 sat down with Lily to discuss her latest Burberry gig, the development of her personal style and getting tipsy with her family at Christmas.

The short celebrates Burberry’s 160-year history by exploring the life of founder Thomas Burberry. When did you first become interested in fashion and aware of Burberry as a brand?
I’ve always really loved Burberry. When I was a teenager, I remember the boys I always fancied would wear those shirts with the full check. When I signed up to do My Burberry Black fragrance, they told me all about the history and the heritage and it was such an impressive story. I think it’s really wonderful that people are going to see that now after they see the Christmas short.

You’re primarily an actress but how have you adapted to modelling roles and starring in campaigns or fashion shoots?
This was really great with Burberry because their brand is so much about embracing who you are and about being genuine and truthful to that. Christopher [Bailey] really supports British talent in all the different arts and so it felt really creative, really collaborative and like a really easy move into modelling. I really, really enjoyed it.

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Interviews Photoshoots Videos

Interviews

PRESTIGE – Lily James is having a moment right now. Even if you’ve somehow missed the phenomenon that is Downton Abbey, you would have to have been living under a rock this past year to miss the buzz surrounding this young actress. From the controversy over her tiny waist in Cinderella, to her beautiful portrayal of Natasha Rostov in the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s literary classic War and Peace, to her budding romance with fellow Brit actor Matt Smith, aka Doctor Who, it seems hardly a week goes by when she isn’t making headlines.

When we meet, she’s in the middle of a four-month stint on stage in London’s West End, taking on yet another iconic role: the female lead in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Richard Madden – best known as Game of Thrones’ Robb Stark – plays Romeo to her Juliet, and Kenneth Branagh steps out as director. Having worked with both men on Cinderella, it’s a familiar crowd for James, which one can’t help but hope takes the pressure off somewhat, as she seems to be one of the busiest people in showbiz. Several projects are either in process or about to be released, War & Peace has just finished airing, she’s on stage eight times a week for four months, and she’s just been announced as the new face of Burberry’s fragrances. It’s a wonder she finds time for a personal life, but then again dating a Time Lord must have its benefits.

Not that she’s complaining. Despite being on voice rest (she sings in Romeo & Juliet, as with many of her other roles), any fears of a quiet interview and quick answers are allayed within a few minutes of meeting her. Warm and chatty, she makes it easy to forget she’s a serious rising star. Her speech is peppered with laughter, a chuckle that verges on the dirty, but with an undercurrent of nervousness that makes it truly endearing. She has a habit of wistfully repeating questions after they’re asked, as if she’s really invested in giving the best possible answer.

As the new face of Burberry fragrances – and the spokesperson for the newly launched My Burberry Black – she’s following in the footsteps of British style icons Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss. Though James differs in a lot of ways from her predecessors, she also represents many of the same things that Moss and Delevingne do, in particular an authenticity that resonates with women. “They’re both genuine people and they’re very real,” says James, “and I’d hope that would be true of myself.” Added to this is a sense of humour, which James sees as inherently British. “I feel there’s a sensibility of getting on with stuff and taking the piss out of stuff,” she says of fellow Brits. “It makes me happy.”

As chief creative officer of Burberry, Christopher Bailey has been on a mission to seek out the best emerging talent from the UK, and has proved time and again that he has the eye for it, as James is quick to point out. “I really respect [Christopher] … He has an eye for talent and I felt really honoured considering the people who have been a part of the brand, you know: Felicity Jones, Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne … the list is endless.
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