How Helena Bonham Carter became a Gothic fashion icon

The actor attended the premiere of The Crown in a typically witchy outfit.

Few people have quite so distinctive a style as Helena Bonham Carter.

The 53-year-old actor is never a slave to the latest trends and is always uniquely herself with her fashion choices. Take the premiere of The Crown, in which she plays Princess Margaret, where Bonham Carter wore a fantastically witchy outfit.

Bonham Carter at the premiere of The Crown (Ian West/PA)

It’s a black tulle dress with a full skirt by Ryan Lo, given extra flair with pastel feather boas coming off the bodice. It’s everything we’ve come to love from the British actor: gothic, extra and a more than a bit mysterious.

You really have to hand it to Bonham Carter; she’s managed to cultivate an instantly recognisable and totally unique sense of style over the years – and here’s how…

All black everything…

(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Even from her early years on the red carpet Bonham Carter showed off a love of black outfits – often in interesting materials, like shiny satin, paired with sheer black tights.

(Ian West/PA)

Black is often seen as a subdued colour, but Bonham Carter manages to inject her looks with a lot of personality. She goes for a ‘more is more’ approach to fashion – lots of necklaces, earrings and hair accessories. In fact, she once jokingly told CNN: “I think I think I’m a Christmas tree.”

(Ian West/PA)

This outfit from the 2019 Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year awards carries through the same style she had in the Nineties: shiny black material, sheer tights, and mussed up hair. Those shoes must be a favourite because she’s worn them time and time again.

Trying on tartan…

(Sean Dempsey/PA)

When she’s not wearing all black, Bonham Carter’s pattern of choice is tartan. This is probably due to her close relationship with Vivienne Westwood, a designer who champions the use of tartan in her work.

(Ian West/PA)

Historically a way of identifying different Scottish tribes, in the 1970s tartan became part of the underground subcultures of London and was worn by rebellious figures like Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

Bonham Carter is herself known for being a rule breaker, so it’s no surprise she’s drawn to tartan. She told People in 2011: “Fashion is all about having fun. I think fashion has been hijacked by the fashion industry creating rules on what one should wear and I feel like breaking the mold and seeing that the world won’t crumble.”

(Ian West/PA)

Many of Bonham Carter’s fashion choices have a costume element to them, and that’s on purpose. She told People: “For me, fashion is all about fantasy and putting unlikely things together. That’s what I love. I genuinely love dressing up.”

That neckline…

(Ian West/PA)

The actor is certainly consistent with her fashion choices – not only does she often wear Westwood’s designs, but she tends to choose the exact same silhouette and neckline of dress, involving a corseted bodice with a low-draped V cut across her chest.

(Joel Ryan/PA)

If the neckline isn’t draped over her arms, she goes for a strapless style in the same corset shape.


She rewears her favourites too. Bonham Carter has been pictured in this Westwood dress multiple times over the span of nearly 15 years, and it encapsulates her style perfectly: her go-to neckline, all black, with shine and a costume element.

When CNN asked Bonham Carter if she saw her style as being eccentric, she replied simply: “No, I just think I’m being myself.”