The 5th-ish season of Downton Abbey premiered last night, and, as ever, the highlight of the season is likely to be the performance of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess of Grantham. Smith has become a familiar face to audiences over the past couple decades, but most people who watch the show probably don’t remember her from her early acting days, myself included. Did you know, incidentally, the people who are well known as older actors often times were actors their entire lives? Weird, but true.
Take a look at these photos from the Life Picture collection, via Time, for evidence. Life had sent a reporter to profile Smith on Los Angeles, where she was acting in a play at the time, for a 1971 story. Much of the story, the point out, “focused on that now-famous face.”
Never mind her face for now, by the way, because we can’t stop gawking at these amazing outfits, like in the photo above. Check out the rest here. We want to party with Smith in 1971. Or 2015 if that doesn’t work. Any year really.