If cinéma vérité were to be personified, it would come as a queen of the downtown, underground scene in a Perry Ellis bomber jacket, the coolest girl in the world; enter CHLOË SEVIGNY. “I’m not a girl anymore, but I’m down with that.” Still locked in her 20-year love affair with film, the actress, designer, and muse is keeping us on our toes with her on-going projects, showing the world that she’s no faded moon.
She walks along busy streets streaked with yellow taxi cabs and into a fashion show, takes off her raglan-sleeved tee and cut-offs, and walks down the runway with nothing but her blond boy cut hair. A decade later, she walks into a hotel room, fresh and frightening as a figment of your imagination, and smokes crack twice. She emerges again as another enigma nine years later, a nymphomaniac in an asylum with one side of her head shaved. A Sonic Youth music video, a controversial Vincent Gallo film, or a horror show to haunt you; nothing keeps you up at night quite like Chloë Sevigny.
From the very first glance the world had of Chloë, she proved to be out of the ordinary with the way her style and story preceded her career. At 17, she caught the eye of Andrea Linett from Sassy, which led to a photo shoot and an internship at the magazine. That, Sonic Youth’s “Sugar Kane” music video, and being casted by Larry Clark in Kids launched Jay McInerney’s famous profile for The New Yorker entitled Chloë’s Scene, where she was first reigned “It Girl.” Two words of anointment, of fleeting adoration that meant nothing to her. When asked why she thinks she was given the description, she says, “I guess it was because the movie was popular and I was getting new campaigns. It just seems like the press likes to latch on someone like that. There’s always one, and there’s always another one, and another after that.” Which doesn’t explain why at the age of 40, Chloë still holds claim to the title.
Her first project was in Larry Clark’s Kids (1995) following the chaotic scene of teenagers in New York City, which she was nominated for Best Supporting Female at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards. Her tender performance became the threshold to her artistry, leaving traces of scenes where you’d never catch her acting: her blue eyes gazing at the rear-view mirror of a cab, muttering, “Everything is wrong.” Her next indie gig was of her then-boyfriend Harmony Korine’s, entitled Gummo (1996), where she also acted as costume designer. The film gave birth to the iconic image of Chloë with bleached eyebrows and taped nipples, dancing on her bed to Buddy Holly.
In 1999, Chloë’s indie status took her to great heights with the critically-acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry, winning a Satellite Award and getting nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. After a streak of both mainstream and independent films, Chloë made waves with her performance in Vincent Gallo’s controversial The Brown Bunny (2003), where she is seen giving Gallo’s character an non-simulated blow job. The move of taking on the film was slaughtered by the press, which led to her agent dropping her as a client due to the effect it would have on her career. And yet, she moved on to other films and series, landing five seasons on HBO’s Big Love. “I got to really stretch myself as an actress,” she says of her experience. “It’s fun
to get to sit with a character for that long. Trying to discover new things and keeping them alive is a challenge.” To this day, Chloë proves to be the worst kind of canvas in the best way possible; she doesn’t wear a character, she becomes it. She has officially signed on to American Horror Story: Hotel and is working on rom-com period film Love and Friendship, where she is reunited with director Walt Stillman and Kate Beckinsale since the 1998 film The Last
Days of Disco.
With heavy-lidded eyes that paralyze and her shrewdly innocent way of looking over her shoulder, Chloë’s iconoclastic taste and idiosyncrasies proved too resounding to be ignored. Perpetually bored in Connecticut, she grew up sewing her own clothes, skateboarding with her brother, and traipsing off to New York sometime in ‘93. Immersing herself in the grunge scene while being influenced by Little House on the Prairie, she took fashion from a drizzle to a storm, immortalizing her as an icon. With the charm of a girl listening to her favorite record in her bedroom, Chloë stole the scenes of short films X-Girl (1995) by Phil Morrison and Surface in the late ‘90s by Michael Cleary, capturing her aloof stance, playing with her sharp wit and an invisible guitar. Modeling for H&M and Louis Vuitton, she caught the wave by becoming the muse of the Miu Miu campaign in 1996 and became the face of Chloé’s new fragrance in 2007. This year, she’s launched her latest collection for Opening Ceremony, a collaboration she’s been doing since 2009. “My line’s out right now and the kids seem to be responding to it. I’d seen the movie Heathers and I’ve also been really into vintage Yohji Yamamoto, that’s where the inspiration comes from. It’s fun to be part of the industry and being able to work with people I love. I don’t have the confines that other designers have to deal with. I get to shake it up a little bit and not have to play by their rules.” She also appears in the Proenza Schouler film Legs Are Not Doors showcasing the Spring 2015 collection, proving that her status in the fashion scene remains the same.
Holding on to ephemera of her fashion affairs, she keeps collections of black boots, denims, and T-shirts. With the words indie, eccentric, and unconventional repeatedly used to describe her style, she puts it down to two words. “I feel preppy alternative. Of course, it changes a bit over the years. Now that I’m in my 40s, I try tokeepitalittlesimpler,alittle subtler, but I’m still alternative at heart.” Preserving a whole entity of not just pretty, sexy, or even cool, but different, she reclaims her image in Chloë Sevigny, an art book published by Rizolli containing photos of herself through the years. “I hope people will see a thread of authenticity, and that they could be inspired by the fact that I was able to do my career the way I wanted to.”
Still shrouded in mystery, her famous, dorky laugh will keep throwing us off as she proves to the world again and again that she will never be “of the moment,” that the whole tapestry of herself as an artist is still in the process of creation. “I’m sure you know I don’t like titles. I don’t like to have to sit into something like ‘It Girl’ or ‘fashion icon’ or ‘indie girl’ or anyofit.Ifeellikeyoucan’tbox anybody into anything specific like that. I’d just like people to think that I was, I can’t think of the word that would best describe it, but maybe just ‘herself.’”