With his natural elegance, gentlemanly demeanor and good looks, coupled with a passion for design, Jeremy Irons emerged as a style icon in the early 1980s. The image of the Academy Award–winning English actor — which, of course, has been shaped by his work in film and TV — still holds enduring appeal. Let’s take a peek at some fashions and accoutrements drawn from a few of his classic roles.
In 1981, Irons became internationally famous playing Charles Ryder in this 11-episode television series based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel of the same name. Brideshead Revisited’s lush world inspired fashion designers and interior decorators, who adapted the show’s vision of aristocratic style. Viewers hosted Brideshead dress-up parties, and some even began carrying stuffed bears.
In this 1988 David Cronenberg film, Irons takes on the double role of creepy twin gynecologists who get overly involved with their patients. Sunglasses, a sharp European suit and imported high-end accessories lend this evil twin confidence and panache.
Reversal of Fortune
In 1990, Irons won an Oscar for his portrayal of Claus von Bülow, the British socialite who was convicted and later acquitted of the attempted murder of his wealthy wife, Sunny. Before Sunny fell into her irreversible coma, Claus’s life was one of high style. Think: Newport garden parties, white dinner jackets and fine china.
Irons plays Alex, a dying playwright, in this 1996 Bernardo Bertolucci film. Costars include his wife (Sinéad Cusack), Liv Tyler, Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. As Alex, Irons maintains his upper-class European style but with a dollop or two of artistic eccentricity.
When Irons took on Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man sexually obsessed with 12-year-old Lolita, based on Nabokov’s controversial 1955 novel, his performance was hailed for its bravery. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky, who also created the looks for Reversal of Fortune, clothed Irons’s conflicted character in respectability — putting him in suits and ties and keeping his body mostly pajama-ed during love scenes.
The Man in the Iron Mask
In this 1998 action film set during the reign of King Louis XIV, Irons plays Aramis, an aging musketeer. There are gold embroidered costumes, heavy jewelry, ornate candlesticks and feathered headgear. Is this period piece a style departure for Irons? Perhaps. But keep in mind the man does own a castle in Ireland.