Styling HALEY WOLLENS
Story ALEX HAWGOOD
Set Design COOPER VASQUEZ
Makeup YUMI LEE
Hair JOEY GEORGE
Casting GREG KRELENSTEIN
Stretch silk crepe top and metal, strass & glass necklace (worn as garter).
During the salad days of summer, just before the Delta variant put a pin in New York’s budding optimism, Chloë Sevigny was hanging out at an intimate Fourth of July barbeque in Brooklyn. The afternoon’s hosts were a couple of her close friends: the gallerist Ash Lange and his wife, Maryam, a screenplay writer. Another long time bestie, Lizzi Bougatsos, the lead singer of the art-rock band Gang Gang Dance, mingled with Sevigny’s husband, the gallerist Siniša Mackovic, on a patio outside.
Only several months earlier, Sevigny had announced to her followers on Instagram that she and Mackovic had privately wed in March of last year. A photo of their nuptials showed the bride in a black dress with matching black pistol boots and a white veil. The caption read, simply: “Married on a Monday”—a wink, perhaps, to the urban legend that only two percent of weddings take place on Mondays. Amidst the sea of familiar faces, however, there was a bright new addition to the Chloë club: Vanja, her one-year-old son. An adorable cherub of a child with a shock of blonde hair, the toddler darted animatedly between guests’ legs in persuit of whatever cat toys, apartment keys or enticing non-baby objects he could get his hands on. “You give him a bowl full of something and he spills everything out and puts it all back,” Sevigny said when we caught up by phone in the early fall. “You know, just pincer grasper kind of stuff.” She was speaking from her mother’s house in Connecticut, where she was squeezing in some grandma time between filming her latest project in Savannah, Georgia.
Cashmere and cotton dress
Sevigny’s standing as a doyenne of downtown has been so unflappable in the popular imagination over the past quarter century that her It Girl status might as well be a tenured position. So it feels like something of a full-circle moment to hear the actress, who became famous at the age of 19 for her raw portrayal of an aimless ingénue drifting between skate parks in Larry Clark’s seminal 1995 opus Kids, having a kid of her own. If anything, Sevigny appears grateful to take maternity leave from her side job as “the platonic ideal of what the coolest girl in any room might look and act like,” as The New Yorker once described her.
“I felt like I was in the kids’ corner and you were luckily in the adults’ corner by the AC,” she recalled of the 4th of July party, half-jokingly or half-relieved (it was hard to tell).
I confessed that her son had charmed me into helping him steal potato chips from an unattended plate belonging to the antique jewelry dealer Carrie Imberman. Sevigny erupted with a knowing guffaw. “That is what boys are supposed to do: introduce more chaotic behavior,”she said, matter-of-factly. “They do say that male figures tend to introduce more risky behavior.” She paused, as if to catch herself reciting gender clichés. “I know we’re not supposed to play into the general rules.”
But really, has anyone ever mistaken Sevigny for a subscriber to the rulebooks of parenting, style (she is still the only person on the planet who can pair a ruffled peasant blouse with white athletic socks and get away with it), film, or anything else for that matter? Decade after decade, she only seems to get more impatient navigating the norms of entertainment and fashion, which is saying something for someone who starred in Harmony Korine’s 1997 cult-camp classic Gummo with her eyebrows bleached.
oooA survey of projects in the pipeline speaks to her unusual career path, to say the least. Take Bones and All, a romance-horror film directed by Luca Guadagnino, which just wrapped filming. The movie is based on Camille DeAngelis’ award-winning novel on teenage cannibalism, although Sevigny cryptically described the plot as simply being about “lovers on the road.”
Her indie-realness has also made Sevigny, perhaps begrudgingly, a natural fit for today’s true-crime boom exploding across social media, podcasts and television programs like “The Girl from Plainville”, an upcoming Hulu series she is currently filming thar is based on a real-life teenage “texting-suicide” case. She plays the mother of an 18-year-old boy coerced into killing himself by his girlfriend via a series of text messages. The project feels like an unofficial sequel to “The Act”, a different true-crime miniseries on Hulu she starred in.
Despite those back-to-back roles, Sevigny is not gunning to become America’s true-crime sweetheart. Rather, she questions her own televised role in feeding today’s fandom surrounding real-world murder cases, such as the recent controversy over TikTok users hunting down the white van belonging to the missing 22-year-old woman Gabby Petito. “For a myriad of reasons, it’s really difficult playing people that are still alive,” she said. “I remember first running into that issue with Boys Don’t Cry and thinking about Lana, the girl who I played. She was still in her trailer park and here I was at the Oscars wearing all these jewels and draped in Saint Laurent. That discrepancy will always be confusing and hard for me.”
“I became very frustrated with directors and ego around the director and this sycophant culture. I feel like there was a moment where directors were the rock stars and now that is dissipating a little bit with the shift in power across all industries."
In conversation, Sevingy’s candor often has the quality of someone thinking out loud. It’s an unusual approach to public life, but one that over time has allowed audiences to have an almost metaunderstanding of her image. In some ways, part of the appeal of watching Sevigny, the movie star, is that somewhere back in her mind, Sevigny, the person, is always deconstructing what it means to be a working actress in Hollywood. “I became very frustrated with directors and ego around the director and this sycophant culture. I feel like there was a moment where directors were the rock stars and now that is dissipating a little bit with the shift in power across all industries. The white-male- director thing is becoming less and less. Men can’t really behave like that anymore.”
oooShifting headwinds in the industry have allowed Sevigny wiggle room to work on the other side of the camera. She now has three films under her belt as a director. Her most recent, White Echo, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival for the 2019 Short Film Palme d’Or. The only American female director in that competition that year, Sevigny nonetheless decided to go with Chanel while promoting White Echo. “I’ve been wearing Chanel at Cannes throughout the years,” she said. “I think the history of Chanel is about embracing France and the French aesthetic, or at least what is classically considered chic there.”
Online, there are threads on Reddit and fashion blogs that archive her sartorial moves over the years as if they were artifacts worthy of the Smithsonian. The fashion news site Fashionista recently declared an appearance Sevigny made in the aisles of Target for a Brooklyn store opening in 2004 as one of the “great outfits in fashion history.” Photos from the event show her looking all legs below and all Chanel up top: a black-and-white tweed cropped cardigan and a crossbody purse with a gold strap.
With some nudging, Sevigny bemusedly recounted the backstory of how she ended up posing in designer threads in front of racks of adolescent undergarments and a sign that reads “Expect more. Pay Less” the living embodiment of Tarjay glamour, really. “I bought that Chanel at a consignment store, maybe Tokyo Seven or something,” she said, referring to the East Village second-hand boutique. “I can’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but probably that I was gonna go a little high-low. None of the stuff was borrowed. None of it was the Cinderella story.” Oh and the open-toe platform booties were Balenciaga, she pointed out. “I think it was probably a paid appearance, in all honesty,” she said, deadpan. Suddenly, a hint of wistful nostalgia was detectable in her voice. “I still have all those Chanel pieces,” she added. “I should really look for them.”