Sundance Exclusive: 15 Minutes With Chloë Sevigny
Chloë Sevigny stopped by our Sundance photo suite—the Who What Wear x Vida Tequila x Glam App Lounge on Main Street—to talk film, fashion, and more.
Sevigny is at the annual Park City, Utah, festival to promote her latest project, Love & Friendship, director Whit Stillman’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Lady Susan. In the comedy, she plays Alice, the American confidante of the cunning Lady Susan Vernon (played by a spectacular Kate Beckinsale).
“Lady Susan is a bit of a bad girl and has a reputation,” Sevigny says. “I think we all have girlfriends that we love and adore and are wild, and we kind of live out our fantasies through them and their brazenness.”
We certainly live out our style fantasies through the actress, who nailed winter dressing in a shearling Coach coat paired with a Gucci blouse and vintage Levi’s. Keep reading for more from our exclusive interview.
Who What Wear: What made you want to be a part of Love & Friendship?
Chloë Sevigny: I am just a fan of [director] Whit [Stillman]. I think he has such an original voice, and even though I know it’s an Austen and an adaptation, I knew he would infuse it with his own Whit kind of humor and pacing. I just think he is a true artist in the film industry, which there are a bunch of them out there, but they are not always knocking on my door, so I was really thrilled to work with him again. I loved working with him on Last Days of Disco. I love that movie. I’m so proud of it. I’d always wanted to do a period piece—you know, the sweeping period drama—so I was game!
WWW: Can you tell us about your character in the film, Alicia? What intrigued you about her?
CS: My character is an American in England, and she’s married to a respectable man played by Stephen Frye. She lives vicariously through her girlfriend Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale. Lady Susan is a bit of a bad girl and has a reputation, and I think we all have girlfriends that we love and adore and are wild, and we kind of live out our fantasies through them and their brazenness. So I kind of related to [Alicia] in that way, because I have girlfriends who are so outspoken, bright, and witty. My best friend Natasha Lyonne, for instance. I’m always so enamored with her and how she can control herself in situations. It’s the same with my character and Lady Susan.
WWW: What did you enjoy most about filming this project?
CS: I think going through and working with the costume designer, and from the different layers of the undergarments and the fittings. It was such a fantasy. And they have such a handle on it. They do so many period pictures in Dublin, and everybody was just so enthusiastic and good at their craft. It’s nice to work with people who are really good at what they do.
WWW: The costumes are pretty spectacular! Did you find them challenging?
CS: I mean, not so much. The things one would think, like going pee. But probably all the volume, because we are not used to it. Of course I’m wearing a huge jacket today, which is often problematic, but the volume I think was the most surprisingly challenging thing to overcome. I think my favorite look was a pale blue look that I wore that was an actual vintage piece from the costume house in London.
WWW: You have been a style hero for so many women. Who are the stylish women who inspire you?
CS: Just friends of mine who are a little more adventurous in their style, like Liz Goldwyn in Los Angeles. I think she has amazing style. My friend Tara Subkoff has really great style. And my friend Lizzie Bucato, and Jen Brill in New York City. I think she always looks super cool in whatever she wears. They are my standouts.
WWW: What’s your favorite piece you own?
CS: I have this hood that is from the ’40s. It’s a black cashmere hood and it has all these bronze sequins all over it. And of course, I live in New York and it’s very cold, so I’ve been wearing that a lot; it’s my new favorite piece. And it’s a piece that makes people really happy, and I like that a lot. I hear people who don’t even recognize me say, “Oh my God, look at her hood!” People audibly get excited about it and it’s nice to wear something that can make people smile. Sometimes my boyfriend is like, “Why are you wearing that crazy blue blah blah blah,” and I was like, “Because it makes women smile and I like to see that.” It’s fun.
WWW: Your jeans are amazing! What are the?
CS: These are Levi’s I actually wore in the ’90s, and they were really long. I used to step on them and there was that half-moon hole in the back. I wore them to the Venice Film Festival with Boys Don’t Cry in like ’99 or something. And I still fit in them, which is dope.
WWW: Can you tell us about your most recent fashion purchase or discovery?
CS: Oh God, I mean I purchase things almost every day—it’s my addiction. Funny enough, Tory Burch sent me these hiking boots for Sundance with red laces, and I was like feeling these weird Tory Burch hiking boots. They are going to be my jam back in New York City. I mean, I’ve always been into that classic ’80s red-lace hiking boot thing. Maybe I’ll incorporate them into some outfit while I’m here. It was kind of more like a surprising thing.
WWW: What has been the most rewarding part of your career thus far?
CS: I just actually directed my first short film called Kitty. It’s about a little girl who turns into a cat, and it stars a 7-year-old girl. I think that’s been the most rewarding. I’ve always wanted to do it but was not confident enough. But I somehow found the security in my relationship and where I am in my life, my age, that I was like I’m just going to do this. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I did a really great job. It was really rewarding and just communicating to different people on set and the actors, I just felt really comfortable. Of course, it was only three days; if you had to sustain over a couple of weeks I think it would be a whole different thing. But I think I want to keep going with that.
WWW: Is there something you haven’t done in your career yet that you would like to explore?
CS: I think I would like to do more naturalistic style acting. I did a series on Netflix called Bloodline, and I feel like the acting was very naturalistic, and I’d like to do bigger parts. I think the only starring roles I ever had were Kids and Boys Don’t Cry, and I feel like I would like to have bigger, more challenging roles.
Stay tuned for more of our exclusive coverage straight from Sundance.