Harry Potter reunion: Emma Watson’s style evolution, from child star to ethical fashion icon

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  • Emma Watson
    Emma Watson
    English actress and activist

Emma Watson has reunited with co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint for a TV special celebrating 20 years since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first film in the phenomenally successful series.

Appearing in Return to Hogwarts alongside a slew of other cast members, the 31-year-old looks elegant in a high-necked white and black dress teamed with statement earrings, a chic up-do and a bold red lip.

It’s a reminder of just how far the actor has come since she shot to fame playing messy-haired Hermione Granger in the eight movies based on JK Rowling’s books.

To mark the momentous reunion (available on Sky and streaming service Now), here we look back at Emma Watson’s incredible fashion and beauty evolution…

The Harry Potter years

Rowling Watson & Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter (left) with the characters’ creator JK Rowling (centre) and co-star Emma Watson as they arrive for the celebrity film premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Ian West/PA)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in 2001, when Watson was just 11 years old.

Playing Hermione Granger, the actor was usually seen on screen in Hogwarts uniform or casual outfits, but while promoting the films and on the red carpet the youngster embraced lots of Noughties trends like colourful slip dresses, low-slung jeans and ballet flats.

Emma Watson arrives at the 2005 Baftas
Emma Watson arrives at the 2005 Baftas (Yui Mok/PA)
Emma Watson at the Wedding Crashers world premiere in 2005
Emma Watson at the Wedding Crashers world premiere in 2005 (Ian West/PA)
Emma Watson arrives at the world premiere of the film ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ in 2005
Emma Watson arrives at the world premiere of the film ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ in 2005 (Yui Mok/PA)

Front row regular

Emma Watson on front row at Vivienne Westwood's spring/summer 2009 fashion show
Emma Watson on front row at Vivienne Westwood’s spring/summer 2009 fashion show (Ian West/PA)

Towards the end of the Noughties, Watson’s passion for fashion really ramped up and she started attending London Fashion Week shows. The teen star becoming a regular at Burberry – always dressed head to toe in the iconic British brand – and later appeared in one of its campaigns.

Emma Watson arrives at the Burberry show, during London Fashion Week
Emma Watson arrives at the Burberry show, during London Fashion Week (Tim Ireland/PA)

Chop and change

Emma Watson arrives at a Warner Bros event in 2010
Emma Watson arrives at a Warner Bros event in 2010 (Ian West/PA)

Following the completion of the final Harry Potter film in 2010, Watson said goodbye to Hermione Granger in dramatic fashion, unveiling a super-short pixie hair cut.

In her 20s, Watson’s red carpet style continued to evolve, with the actor favouring sleek, monochrome minidresses and dramatic gowns (her asymmetric Prabal Gurung number at the 2013 Met Gala was a stand-out) as well as some edgy, tailored outfits.

Emma Watson arriving for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Emma Watson arriving for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Ian West/PA)
Emma Watson arriving for the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Emma Watson arriving for the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Emma Watson attends the 2013 Met Gala
Emma Watson attends the 2013 Met Gala (Denis Van Tine/PA)
Emma Watson attends the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2013
Emma Watson attends the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2013 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Costume drama

Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (Alamy/PA)

Watson has donned some fabulous outfits in her post-Potter movie roles, from Paris Hilton-inspired velour tracksuits and Uggs in 2013’s The Bling Ring to sweeping gowns in two critically acclaimed remakes: Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Little Women (2019).

The Bling Ring
Emma Watson (centre), Taissa Farmiga and Katie Chang in The Bling Ring (Alamy/PA)
Emma Watson in Little Women
Little Women (Alamy/PA)

Sustainable fashion pioneer

Emma Watson attending Met Gala 2016
Emma Watson attending Met Gala 2016 (Alamy/PA)

Taking part in the Green Carpet Challenge (which tasks celebrities with wearing sustainable and ethical garments on the red carpet) since 2015, Watson has become a committed sustainable fashion advocate.

She chose a Calvin Klein dress made out of recycled plastic bottles for the 2016 Met Gala and an Emilia Wickstead gown crafted from discarded fabric the following year for the Beauty and the Beast premiere.

Emma Watson attending the Beauty and the Beast premiere
Emma Watson attending the Beauty and the Beast premiere (Matt Crossick/PA)

The actor later partnered with ethical fashion app Good On You and in 2020 took on a sustainability role on the board of directors at Kering, the parent company of luxury fashion brands including Balenciaga and Gucci.

Emma Watson arrives for the first Earthshot Prize awards ceremony
Emma Watson arrives for the first Earthshot Prize awards ceremony (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Making a rare public appearance at the first Earthshot Prize ceremony last October, the 31-year-old presented an award and chose an edgy ensemble by London-based designer Harris Reed, comprising an asymmetric tulle dress made from vintage wedding gowns and black flared trousers.

While Watson’s fashion-forward outfit divided opinion, it’s clear the actor is committed to sustainable style both on and off the red carpet.

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