'It's been such a long time since our industry has all been in the same room,' says Cush Jumbo, as we join her in her Nobu Hotel suite in advance of the Olivier Awards 2022. 'It it will be so lovely to get together and celebrate being on the other side of the tough time that British theatre has gone through.'
As she gets ready to walk the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall, she cuts a striking figure and one that stands in complete opposition to the character she's been playing for so long. Jumbo is nominated in the Best Actress category, for her role as Hamlet at London's Young Vic.
She's wearing a short brown bob wig, a bold, graphic eye in a palette of nudes and browns. She tells me she's looking for feminine chic, with a bit of edge. The transformation is exquisite.
'I especially wanted to try and go for a look which showed the feminine side of what I like to wear and style. It's still bold, but because the part I played was so androgynous as Hamlet - I played him as a boy - tonight I wanted to embrace the other side of me that's always there.'
'The look that I've chosen for tonight is Vivienne Westwood. It's a really incredible dress because, as with a lot of Westwood's designs, it's very feminine and it's very strong and its in beautiful shades of blue,' she appraises the off-the-shoulder gown she's selected for the proceedings.
'It's got some amazing movement in it because of the way the cloth hangs and the way it's cut,' she says, nodding at the train that hangs off the back of the dress, and the thigh-high slit which allows the dress to flow like liquid as she walks. 'It's very theatrical. It makes me feel like a total diva, but also like I am part of the sky or sea or nature. It makes me feel powerful and gorgeous.'
Asked which other designers she's feeling particular affinity with at the moment, she's very quick to answer, 'I am loving British designers right now, being back in the UK after quite a few years spent living in the States. So Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Viv Westwood, Nensi Dojaka, Maximilian and Molly Goddard too - I am actually wearing one of her dresses for the after party tonight.'
'Style is so personal, but mainly it's about feeling comfortable in your own skin. I think you can always tell when an outfit is wearing a person rather than a person wearing an outfit and fashion should be really fun and make you feel confident, especially as a woman. The older I get, the more stylish I feel because the more I feel like I fit in my own skin,' she muses.
'I feel like part of my style has evolved in the last twenty years and part of it hasn't changed. I don't think I'll ever be able to get shot of the trainers that I love or the tracksuits that I love, I think they'l just get a bit more expensive as I get a bit older and they turn from tracksuits into loungewear as you grow up. I think that I have become more confident about wearing bolder ideas, especially working with my stylist (and ELLE fashion editor) Georgia Medley. I think you should keep trying new things and not get stuck in the past.'
And in a flash (relatively speaking) she's looking phenomenal, and ready to get in the car. As a final note on the way out the door, she beams: 'I am looking forward to seeing some really cool performances, but also to walk up the carpet with my ten year old niece Sienna. Because she came to see Hamlet and loved it and this will be her first experience of a red carpet and I'm excited to share that with her!'
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