Miranda Harcourt is a sought-after acting coach, actor and director, who has worked with superstars including Nicole Kidman, Juliette Binoche, Dev Patel and Saoirse Ronan. But for many New Zealanders, the Wellington-based creative is a well-known face for her film and television roles – including Gemma in the fabulous and fashion-obsessed 1980s series Gloss.
The frequent travel Harcourt’s work usually entails (pre-pandemic) has rubbed off on the way she dresses. “I have come now to the idea of a very small, perfectly-curated capsule wardrobe and it is all dark colours,” she says. “I travel with two dresses, two pairs of trousers, two jerseys, two jackets and five T-shirts plus my beloved Muji bathroom bags.”
She keeps her accessory selection simple too, either wearing her grandmother’s pearl and diamond earrings or her one necklace, designed by Tiziana Redavid of La Mollla, a birthday present from her husband Stuart McKenzie, bought from Wellington boutique Bello. Footwear is “two pairs of Pumas and a pair of Minnie Cooper high heels, which I never wear but hey, just in case”.
This is in stark contrast to her more colourful and boldly patterned style back when her children Peter, Thomasin and Davida Harcourt McKenzie, were younger. “Maybe I dressed back then to make sure they could always see me?” she muses “My mum is the one in the green coat with pink polka-dots.”
Some things I own and love
Zambesi pants and Dirk Bikkemberg boots
One item of clothing that remains in my wardrobe from the colourful period of my life is my pair of 90s Zambesi tartan woollen pants. I love them. I wear them with a pair of Dirk Bikkembergs boots I bought in Dunedin from Plume, which cost so much money they will always remain in my wardrobe, even if I only wear them once every five years.
Liz Mitchell ‘Gloss’ jersey
Like everyone, I have been clearing out our storage during lockdown. Our storage area is huge, it is full of many items from the dark ages of our family’s history like the old stage set of a play I toured in the 90s and posters from shows my mum and dad performed in the 1950s. In a box labelled 1987 I found a jersey, commissioned by designer Liz Mitchell for me to wear in the very first episode of Gloss. I love the mustard and royal blue fleurs-de-lis. I photographed it and sent it to Liz – “Look what I found!” – and she posted me another jersey from the same episode, worn by Geeling.
Shapeless indigo thing
My friend Zeljka Stanin, who was hair and makeup on the movie Lion, wore this everyday on set. We shot everywhere from rubbish dumps and sewage ponds outside Mumbai to beautiful remote villages and forests. At the end of the shoot, in a northern village in Madhya Pradesh, Zeljka finally threw this out. I took it out of the hotel rubbish bin. “Can I have this?” With those pockets, it is so damn useful when I am working.
I nearly drowned in this 1950s green velour coat when I wore it swimming on a beach in Sydney. What was I thinking? Maybe that is why I kept it? Now it has been immortalised in this photo, I can get rid of it.
This dress is a hand-me-down from our daughter Thomasin. She wore it in a fashion shoot. I wore it to a Hollywood party recently. Kirsten Dunst was wearing an extraordinary meringue dress, talking to Thomasin and Jamie Dornan. (Thomasin said later “Who was that guy? He knew a lot about rugby.”) I felt very elegant and understated thanks to Nom*D and the dark-spirit of Dunedin style. I am increasingly a fan of simplicity and plainness. Jane Campion is a style goddess for me. I remember seeing a photo of Jane on the red carpet for the premiere of her film Bright Star, which I was lucky enough to have worked on. The young American friend I was with said, “But I just don’t understand her shoes!” They were asymmetrical Ann Demeulemeesters, one a T-bar and one a toe-peeper. Very beautiful, but I could see that they were conceptually challenging for my friend.
This story was originally published in Ensemble's guest-edited style issue of Sunday magazine