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Ana   /   December 07, 2017   /   0 Comments

On a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, British actress Vanessa Kirby, her blanched hair swept up into a clean chignon, recalls a rare photo of Princess Margaret, the infamously fabulous figure she portrays on Netflix’s The Crown. “Margaret’s on the beach—maybe on her honeymoon in the ’60s [with] Tony Armstrong-Jones [who] has taken this picture of her,” she says of the portrait given to her by a friend. “She looks really wild and free, the light is reflected in her eye as she’s looking up, and her hair’s all messy. That’s the Margaret I love.”

In the beginning of season two (airing this Friday, December 8, on Netflix), Margaret is far from bliss on a beach. Thanks to the decision of her sister, Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy), to deny her permission to marry her love Peter Townsend (Ben Miles), Margaret is devoid of her signature vibrancy. In its place is Kirby’s affectless physicality, a muted wardrobe, and the evergreen presence of martinis. “When Margaret is in her power, she’s absolutely owning the room,” the 28-year-old actress says of the princess. “She’s a force of nature, whereas Elizabeth would rather slip in. So when she’s not herself, we thought about the conflict of not wanting to be seen, as well as desperately wanting to be seen.”

To strike this balance, the production’s makeup artist, Ivana Primorac, used Kirby’s doll-like features—her pale facade, button nose, round green eyes, and prominent jawline all seem of another time—as a canvas for creating a look that evoked a distressed princess. “Ivana reshaped my eyebrows and moved my wig back,” says Kirby of fine-tuned details, like a receding hairline, that telegraphed her character’s evolution. “[Meanwhile], she brought Claire’s [wig] down quite a lot. It’s those little things that weirdly change everything.”

The second season isn’t all grim for Margaret. Against the backdrop of the earth-shaking ’60s, she finds her way back to being the untamed foil to Queen Elizabeth’s controlled countenance. She meets Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode), the London photographer she would go on to marry. “Tony was somebody very out of her comfort zone, very rogue, bohemian, and cool—not the royals,” says Kirby of her character’s new romance. “I loved playing Margaret when she was falling in love with Tony.” Kirby and Jane Petrie, this season’s costume designer, thought very carefully about how to portray this newfound excitement through her clothing. “What would she choose to wear to see the first person she’s felt something for in years?” Kirby recalls she and Petrie asking each other. The answer: a tiny corset top with a little lace. “It was suggestive of a new sexuality and sensuality that’s a lot different than she had with Peter.”

Lingerie aside, shifting to 1960s beauty trends also excited Kirby: “It’s my favorite era of makeup and hair.” Margaret’s changing lip color, for example, was one way to track the evolution of her personal life as well as the changing times. In the beginning of season one, she wears very fresh, pink lips and hardly anything on the eyes, but “as the story develops and she gets deeper and deeper [into the drama], she starts wearing dark purples and plums,” says Kirby. “That aged her—er, me—but I much preferred when the makeup changed in the second season,” she continues. “By the end, she’s wearing bright blue, she’s got on this bright orange lipstick, and this hard-line flick of an eye. I mean, she’s so cool.”

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