Low-key with boa


It should come as no surprise Orla Brady once appeared in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. The Dublin-born actress has a natural flair for fashion although she insists work commitments leave her little time to shop. Since moving to London four years ago, she has rushed from one assignment to the next, turning up on television in the police drama Out of the Blue, the recent vets' series Noah's Ark and over the summer the two-part The Heart Surgeon with Nigel Havers. Next spring, she will be seen on television again, playing Cathy in a new version of Wuthering Heights made for LWT. Having recently finished filming that in Yorkshire and the Elstree Studios, understandably she is now taking a break in Ireland for Christmas.

"I'm back and forward between the two countries all the time," she says. "My hope is that if I announce this often enough, eventually Aer Lingus will get the message and give me shares." It has been some time since she last worked on this side of the Irish Sea.

"I would love to film in Ireland and over the past 12 months I was offered parts here twice, but unfortunately I already had other commitments." Despite plenty of theatre experience - last year she had a long run at England's National Theatre - film is her main interest at the moment. As for any interest in clothes, the opportunity to enjoy them is only intermittent. "Someone asked me how come actresses always look like bags of washing.

The point is, when you're working all you want to wear is a big jumper and a pair of jeans. Once you're on set, there's someone tugging at your hair or getting you dressed." At the end of each project, she usually finds herself buying many of the pieces worn over the previous weeks "so then I walk around in my character's clothes for another six months." For this shoot, she opted to demonstrate how the most powerful effects can be made by the most understated means.

Her own preference is for low-key dressing "although I don't mind the occasional feather boa." Over the next fortnight of parties, clothes such as these come into their own thanks to an element of drama in the cut and cloth. The contrast between rich texture and simple form is guaranteed to win applause - even if the wearer is not an actress.