Chloë Sevigny - Page 59 - the Fashion Spot
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The Edit by Net-A-Porter
April 20, 2017

On Reflection
Model Chloë Sevigny
Photographer Yelena Yemchuk
Styling Tracy Taylor

After two decades of both cult and controversial film roles plus fearless fashion choices, actress Chloë Sevigny is well versed in dealing with the opinions of others. She tells Pandora Sykes why she wants to challenge our idea of beauty.

hloë Sevigny hates being interviewed. “I get so bored,” she laments. “I tend to speak out of turn and get myself in trouble, because I’ve bored myself. It depends where I am in my cycle,” she finishes with a laugh.

I’m unsure where Sevigny is in her cycle right now – and it feels like an over-step to ask – but when we meet for tea in New York’s East Village to discuss her “pretty wild year”, the 42-year-old actress emits a deliciously opinionated, low-key wrath on everything from the media’s critique of women to the escalating egos of film directors.

The actress is technically homeless at the moment. She and her boyfriend, Ricky Saiz, co-head designer for skate brand Supreme, are staying with a friend, Orange Is the New Black’s Natasha Lyonne, while the couple house-hunt in Greenwich. But finding somewhere to live is taking something of a back seat because, career-wise, Sevigny is on fire. She has six films out this year, including The Snowman, with Michael Fassbender; Look Away, with Matthew Broderick; and Lean on Pete, with Steve Buscemi. Plus, she’s directed a short film, Carmen, as part of Miu Miu’s film initiative, Women’s Tales. But we’re here to talk about The Dinner, a character-led thriller with Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall, adapted from HermanKoch's 2009 novel. After the film’s European premiere, Koch reportedly said he didn’t like it.

“Oh, really?” says Sevigny, unfazed. “I haven’t actually seen the film. Or the trailer. Or read the book. I’m clearly ill-prepared for this interview,” she deadpans. “When I met with Oren [Moverman, the director] about the script, he said they'd made a lot of changes. I really like Oren. He was refreshing; he didn’t have any pomposity. So many directors are ego-driven.”

The caliber of the cast was a draw, too. “I got to work with Steve Coogan and Richard Gere; they’re masters. I didn’t have scenes with Rebecca [Hall], but I did with Laura Linney. We have a mutual friend, Jeanne Tripplehorn, who I worked with for years on Big Love [the Tv hit about polygamy, which won Sevigny a Golden Globe in 2010]. It was a cool set with great actors and everyone believed in the material and the director.”

She’ll also star in psychological thriller Lizzie, alongside Kristen Stewart, based on the true story of Lizzie Borden who was accused of killing her father and stepmother. Sevigny plays the title role and describes Stewart, who plays maid Bridget Sullivan, as someone “who loves her craft. At that age, I didn’t have the confidence to fight for my ideas like she does. I learned a lot from her – and she’s 27 years old,” she says incredulously.

Sevigny’s ascent to fame is like something out of a film in itself. An internship at now defunct fashion tome Sassy led to music videos for Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon, now a friend of 20 years, “is someone I always want to impress and who is still so punk and so cool. She writes to me on my birthday and says, ‘I’m so proud of you’. When she says those things to me, I cry”), a now cult 1994 profile in The New Yorker dubbing her “the coolest girl in the world”, and a role in Larry Clark’s seminal 1995 film, Kids, all before the age of 21. But even as her career as an art-house darling unfurled, via the controversial The Brown Bunny and the devastating Boys Don’t Cry (“The biggest role I have ever had; such a moving and important film”), she became as much famed for her vintage-cued personal style – cut-off denim, inventive mini dresses, lashings of leather – as she was her acting smarts.

Sevigny is a style icon in the truest, most enduring sense. Today she’s wearing a typically envy-inducing ensemble of vintage Hermès suede coat (from Williamsburg vintage store, Narnia), black turtleneck and Junya Watanabe denim midi skirt, spliced with white broderie anglaise. Has she always loved fashion? “I don’t love fashion,” she corrects. “I have a lot of issues with the fashion industry and its beauty ideals. But I love style.”

Growing up in Darien, Connecticut, with an older brother, Paul, and a Polish-American mother and French-Canadian father, Sevigny says she was born with a passion for “shapes, color and design”. And why vintage clothing? “Economics, really.”

Darien is a wealthy town, but, unlike her peers, Sevigny did not grow up rich. “I would go to dances in my thrift-store Laura Ashley dress. During high school, I had this whole treasure chest of my mum’s clothes from the ’60s. I wore her prom dress to my prom.”

A former face of Chloé perfume, Sevigny now wears designer vintage rather than thrift-store bargains, but readily admits that she is still susceptible to status symbols. “I’m not making any judgements,” she says, gesturing towards her Louis Vuitton bag and black Miu Miu boots. Currently, she is “really into Courrèges – all that vinyl”. Closet staples include A-line minis, clumpy shoes, black leather jackets and Wolford turtlenecks. “I’m always on the quest for the perfect kilt skirt and the perfect pair of jeans. I think every woman is.” She is a huge Prada fan and is regularly kitted-out in Miu Miu garb: “I love what Mrs Prada stands for – you can tell she is a real intellectual and a lover of the arts.”

Sevigny herself enjoyed a stint as a designer, of sorts, through her five-season-long collaboration with Nyc brand Opening Ceremony: “As an actress, you’re for hire; a cog in the wheel. It was nice to have a creative outlet that I had control over.” Would she ever design again? “Maybe – if it was a big lucrative commission,” she says baldly. “But I would never launch my own label. It’s too much work,” she laughs.

Despite an Instagram following of almost 570K, Sevigny’s fans will be disappointed by the lack of outfit selfies. “I’m 42 and I’m already famous – why would I self-promote myself like that? It’s disgusting,” she says, looking duly revolted. She says social media puts a “white-wash” on everything. “I’m very confused by millennials. When I was a teenager, your wardrobe identified who you were. There aren’t any tribes anymore; just teenagers dressing as one.”

She has created her own Insta-series, ‘I [heart emoji] actresses’, to show “alternative beauty ideals. I think it’s inspiring to see women who are not conventional beauties, who have been judged.” She counts herself in that group. “If Rihanna was in [my outfit], the tabloids would love it,” she says. “I don’t court mainstream success, so they have a hard time understanding me. It’s impossible for me to go somewhere and not be judged.”

Sevigny describes this era of condemnation as “a culture of darkness, where everybody is a critic. Susan Sarandon and Katy Perry get s*** from liberals and conservatives. And I’m horrified at the insults that Lena Dunham has to put up with.” She sighs, before sharing her novel technique for dealing with Instagram trolls: “I go onto their profile, after they have said something mean, and I ‘like’ a picture.” I imagine that terrifies them, I remark. “It humanizes me. And I’ve actually had people then apologize for what they said.”

The fraught politics of the Trumpian era have affected Sevigny “100%. Everything takes on a different color. I’m trying to figure out my next short film” – her third; after Carmen and last year’s surrealist Kitty – “and it’s like, who cares about four white girls sitting around talking? It makes you reconsider what you put out there; and what has to be said.” Does she ever feel that there is a tension between her mantles in fashion and film? “I’ve been around for a long time; people find authenticity in me. Within the film community, I have respect.”

She is currently looking for a feature-length script with which to make her directorial debut. “I’m always reading, looking, watching.” The fact she is yet to star in a big-budget movie isn’t, she says, intentional. “I’d love to be part of a movie that made a big impact. I compromised, once, to get a paycheck to help my mom with a mortgage. But I’ve been able to maintain [my integrity].” What would it take for her to do a commercial picture? “What’s the pitch, what’s the movie?” she shoots back. “Who’s in it, what’s the company?”

But back to how much she hates being interviewed. She offers up a comparison: of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan in the band’s 1989 documentary, 101. “He’s on stage singing and you can see this crazy inner life, between the lyrics, as he tries to break through [a performance] that he has to do over and over again. That’s how I feel about press. You’re in this thing that people have built of you. How do you bust out?” She sighs. “I’m not articulating it very well.”

Au contraire, Miss Sevigny. You articulate yourself – and your quiet furies – very well indeed.
The Dinner is out May 5

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Celebrities and guests attend 'The Dinner' premiere at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 24, 2017 in New York City.

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The more I look at the LV look, the more I like it. It's so MAS though, can just picture her in it.

I'm assuming the above look is Gucci....not my taste.

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Oh god. That Gucci dress hurts my eyes.

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Surprisingly, the green dress is Alessandra Rich from the Fall '17 collection. But it could as well be Gucci, it's so ugly.

"See, there is a difference between me and you. When you hear Celine you think of Dion. I think of the brand."
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