Chloë Sevigny has blossomed from an artsy cool-girl muse to grown-up cool woman and fashion plate – if you can even classify perpetual coolness as “blossoming.” Sevigny has a new book out by Rizzoli, a picture-heavy tome full of images and memories from different points in the actress’ charmed life. In the book, we see Sevigny as a braces-wearing teenager, a polished Oscars attendee (with scabies), a kid kicking around artsy Halloween parties and a target of tabloid fodder.
To promote the release of the book, Sevigny and her BFF, Orange Is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne, sat down for a Q&A at Urban Outfitters’ Herald Square location. The affair felt a lot like storytime in a kindergarten class, except with much older and more stylish classmates – and way cooler teachers. Lyonne was armed with a copy of the book festooned with colorful Post-it tags as Sevigny recalled the stories behind the photos. Of course, Sevigny lent some insight on her first claim to fame – that The New Yorker piece written by Jay McInerney for the publication’s first fashion issue, heralding her as an it-girl back in 1994.
Though the article helped put her on the map, Sevigny still doesn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “I feel like it’s been made into more of a lore than it was at the time,” she said. “I was 19 when it was written. Not a lot of my peers were reading the The New Yorker. My dad was. I think people were more upset that Tina Brown had taken over the magazine and she wanted to do this fashion issue. That was more of an issue and a thing, like, ‘What is she doing to the The New Yorker? She’s going to take it over, she’s going to ruin it, why is she doing a fashion issue?’ I think that article was kind of made into something more than it was at the time. People always quote that [McInerney] said ‘coolest girl in the world,’ and he actually never said that in the article. It came out of thin air!”
Sevigny, who considers herself a feminist, has established herself as a style icon and designer over the years, having created collections with Opening Ceremony. But she doesn’t see her involvement with fashion as something at odds with her feminist identity. “I feel like what I do in my fashion line is very separate from high fashion. Of course, I’m involved in the fashion industry but every time I’ve presented my line, I’ve tried to show it on girls that are not models, more like girls who are my friends,” she explained. “I try in my lookbooks and presentations to show different body types, young girls, older girls and not fall prey to that specific [typically model] body type. What I do with Opening Ceremony is a very small run, it’s not a mass market thing. I feel like that’s all I can really do. I love doing the line, it’s great for me, it’s a great way to express myself, especially through the shows and presentations like the last one I did. I had young girls performing, singing and dancing. One girl sang opera. All the girls I used weren’t known or celebrated or famous in any way, they were just really inspiring young girls who were trying to figure out their place in the world, so I always try to celebrate that.”
Sevigny has lived a wonderful life indeed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things she wishes she could have done differently – like passing up an opportunity to star in Orange is the New Black with Lyonne. “Funny enough, they actually asked me to play a part and I turned it down,” she dished. And which part would she have played had she decided to take the role? According to Sevigny, it was a “white trash, drugged out” character, which, if we do the math, is probably Taryn Manning’s character Pennsatucky. “I regret it every single day,” Sevigny admitted.