Euphoria Star Alexa Demie and '90s Icon Patricia Arquette Wax Poetic About Their Favorite Fashion Decade
And the time Arquette rented a red carpet dress from Palace Costume.
It’s safe to say that actress Alexa Demie has a thing for the ‘90s. She grew up in the decade. Her breakout role was in Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s. And as cheerleader Maddy Perez in HBO’s smash-hit Euphoria (which returns for a special episode on Dec. 6), her character’s crop tops, mini skirts, and chokers are an undeniable nod to that simpler time when, yes, Spice Girls-style ruled the fashion world.
Off-screen, she also turns to the beloved decade for style inspo, referencing the unforgettable ‘90s looks from cult classic films like Ed Wood, Goodbye Lover, and True Romance as favorites. All three of those, coincidentally, star ‘90s icon — and now, Oscar winner — Patricia Arquette, who, no surprise, also just happens to be one of Demie’s biggest girl crushes.
So with that in mind, we connected Demie with Arquette for our December Style Crush chat, so she could finally pose all of her burning ‘90s questions to the legend herself. After confessing her love for Arquette’s many memorable roles, Demie quizzed her on everything from her vintage red carpet looks, to carving her own path in Hollywood, to why you just gotta let your freak flag fly.
Read an extended version of their chat, below. And for more stories like this, pick up the December 2020 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download now.
Alexa Demie: Patricia, you’re an icon! A living legend. You’re truly one of my greatest inspirations as an actress.
Patricia Arquette: You’re so sweet. And you have some balls to pick me as your style crush. Honestly, I wouldn’t have chosen myself. [laughs]
AD: It’s not just your style that I love; it’s also your attitude, and the roles you’ve picked throughout your career. It’s everything! You really don’t give a fuck, but you also give a fuck, you know? That’s admirable. I’m so inspired by your films from the ‘90s too. Your cowgirl skirt look in True Romance is iconic [below]. It’s on Tumblr and Instagram all the time. We actually used a similar look in Euphoria for a Halloween episode.
PA: The wardrobe for that film was amazing. I loved it because when I was growing up, I was really into country style, bluegrass, and the Carter Family. I thought I was going to grow up and marry that cowboy used-car salesman Cal Worthington.
AD: Ha! Oh my God, Cal Worthington. [laughs] Your other ‘90s film that blew me away was Goodbye Lover [below]. I took screenshots of every single image.
PA: The costume designer Theadora Van Runkle did those looks. She had done Bonnie and Clyde too. There was a whole sewing room, and we’d draw outfits and pick the fabrics together — it was great.
AD: Your blunt bob and bangs in that film were so distinct. You even wore your hair like that on red carpets afterwards. It’s a very high-fashion haircut.
PA: The first time I did that cut was actually for a photo session with Bruce Weber at the Chelsea Hotel.
AD: Those are some of my favorite images of you. You’re so theatrical in your editorials. I feel like you don’t just pose — you always give us characters through photos as well.
PA: I hate doing photo shoots unless I have an amazing photographer, because I’m only 5 foot 2. I’ve never looked like a model. I had a curvy body before it was cool. So when I would take pictures with less-talented photographers, they’d say, “The dress doesn’t look right.” And I’d be like, “Man, I can’t sell a dress. I’m not a model!”
AD: I was looking back at your red carpet looks from the ‘90s and I especially loved your beautiful gold satin gown that you wore for the True Romance première. [below]
PA: That was my first big première. I didn’t have a stylist, so I rented that satin vintage dress at Palace Costume on Fairfax Ave. [in L.A.]. I loved the ’30s look, but right before that I actually had blue armpit hair. [laughs] I felt I needed to have a look that people would accept, though. Most of my life, I think the way that I’ve dressed has not really been reflective of who I am. My body of work is much more reflective of who I am.
AD: What you bring to each of your characters is phenomenal. Outside of that, you can tell that you don’t really care to be the perfect model-type, which is way more interesting and inspirational anyway. I do think you have an incredible sense of style though. You always chose really classic, formfitting gowns. What would be a look that actually does reflect your style?
PA: I plan on really going for it when I’m an old lady with, like, an all-black caftan, combat boots, lots of crystals, and long white braids. [laughs]
AD: Please do this sooner rather than later. I need that look from you.
PA: I know! There have always been a couple of people who were cool enough to dance to their own beat, like Chloë Sevigny and Debi Mazar. But my fashion influences were usually punk rockers.
AD: Do you like Vivienne Westwood then?
PA: I do. I’ve worn some of her pieces. [below] Her tailoring is bar none, and also her history with Malcolm McLaren and designing for the Sex Pistols is so interesting.
AD: One of my other favorite look of yours was the cool black latex dress that you wore to the MTV Movie Awards in 1996 [below]. I’d wear that tomorrow.
PA: Latex is hot, though! I liked that one, but what I remember most is I was fighting with my partner at the time [Nicolas Cage], and it was tumultuous.
AD: Did you continue to dress yourself, or did you eventually get a stylist?
PA: People told me I had to get one because they thought I was really doing a bad job. [laughs] I was grateful, though, because stylists talk to the designers and find good stuff for you. As much as I honor women who love getting dressed up, I’m just a tomboy. I’d rather wear overalls on the red carpet, but no one will let me.
AD: You should wear whatever you want. You do a lot of cool suits too. Are you more comfortable in those?
PA: Yes. Sometimes after trying on a bunch of things, I’ll be like, “Just give me a suit.” Most of my life, I haven’t been a sample size, so a lot of designers never had anything for me. It was kind of slim pickings, you know? That’s why I prefer vintage.
AD: Is there a fashion decade that you’d want to live in?
PA: This is kind of a heavy decade to live in right now, but I still wouldn’t go back because it’s been hard for women in a lot of other decades. Little by little, we’ve been making progress, but I feel like we can still wear the beautiful clothes from the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s today. I love the men’s gabardine suits from the ‘50s too.
AD: I always wish I could look like an Old Hollywood actress in black-and-white with the soft lighting on my face. You got to do that in Ed Wood.
PA: I did! I love period pieces too, really just to wear the clothes. Everything I wore on Boardwalk Empire was mind-boggling. The wardrobe room was a huge aircraft hangar with racks and racks of vintage clothes. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like an orgy of beauty.
AD: Is there an actress from that era that inspired you most early on in your career?
PA: There were so many — Jessica Lange, Vivien Leigh, Gena Rowlands. Have you seen A Woman Under the Influence?
AD: It’s one of my favorite films. I actually did something really creepy the other night — I drove by Gena Rowlands’s house.
PA: I recently did that too! [laughs]
AD: Really? I feel like it’s good luck to just go by her house. [laughs] It’s my dream to do the type of work that you’ve both done.
PA: You will. My best advice is to trust yourself and be willing to grow. The people that stick around are the ones who aren’t afraid to try something different. A psychic once said to me, “You gotta let your freak flag fly.” And you do. Especially right now, when we’re going through such a heavy time in the world. My boyfriend [artist Eric White] is very supportive of that, but there are times when I have, like, a red, white, and blue bonnet on around the house, and he’ll say, “I love you, but let’s burn that.” [laughs]
AD: It’s funny that you mentioned a psychic because, just today, I was talking to a healer that said my mantra should be “Be relentlessly you.”
PA: That’s how you got to live your life. Bite your teeth into the throat of it and rip it out. [laughs] There should be no rules. You should be able to look however you want, and that’s it.
AD: How do you go about choosing your projects? It seems like you were always doing it for the love of the character, like you didn’t have this business plan of “I’m going to be this big” or “I’m going to do Marvel movies.” All of your films feel special.
PA: I was lucky because my manager and my agent are real film lovers. They would refer me to things that were commercial, and then sometimes, an arty film would come along at the same time, and they would say, “Ok, as an agent, I’m going to tell you, you should probably do this other one. It’s going to make a lot of money and it’ll be good to help you get other projects. But as a film lover, I like this other one.” So we were in sync with always wanting good material and finding characters that I hadn’t done before. Like, with Tilly from Escape at Dannemora, I really wanted to explore this woman who didn’t have your typical body, but was totally comfortable with her sexuality.
AD: That role was phenomenal. Are you still with the same manager and agent?
PA: Yes, I’ve been with them for 32 years.
AD: Wow! That’s special and pretty rare. Well, you’ve talked about not loving some of the things you’ve worn, but was there one look that you absolutely loved wearing on the red carpet?
PA: When I won the Oscar [for Boyhood], Rosetta Getty made a beautiful dress for me. [above] We’ve been friends since we were 7 and 8, and we were the poor kids growing up. I remember her saying, “Someday I want to be a designer,” and I said, “Someday I want to be an actress.” So when I got nominated I wanted her to make my dress. I felt surrounded by love that day.
AD: I had no idea you were friends! That’s much more special than getting just any designer to dress you.
PA: It is. But if I’m honest about my red-carpet style over the years, I think I still would’ve gotten a D+. I could’ve had a lot more fun with it.
AD: There’s time! I can’t wait to see these new looks you’ll turn out.
PA: Just wait till you see me in my bonnet, girl. [laughs]
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.