Chloë Sevigny on Her New Photo Book—and How She Stores Decades Worth of Clothes
There's no denying that Chloë Sevigny solidly maintains her "It Girl" status after decades in the industry. Not only is the star an accomplished actress—her career kicked off in the '90s and led to supporting roles in indie films and TV shows like American Horror Story—but she's also beloved by the fashion world. Opening Ceremony, Miu Miu, Chloé, and other notable brands have all tapped Sevigny for collaborations and modeling gigs. Now, the self-proclaimed "regular girl" (whom we'd call anything but ordinary) has teamed up with Rizzoli to create a self-titled photo book ($35; rizzoliusa.com) that chronicles her illustrious personal life and unconventional career. We caught up with Sevigny at a book signing at Bookmarc L.A. to discuss her latest project, personal style--and where she houses her most valued frocks.
What motivated you to publish this book?
Well, it was pretty simple. Rizzoli approached me and I went in and they said, you know, ‘you can do whatever you want,’ and we threw around some ideas. And I just thought, you know, I’d turned 40, it seemed kind of like a nice time, everyone’s like, obsessed with the '90s, and I’ve been working in film and fashion and television for twenty years now, and it just seemed like kind of a nice time to publish, like, you know, my life thus far.
Why did you choose this time of your life to publish it?
I’ve done so many shoots and, you know, I’ve been around for a while and I just feel very happy with my career thus far, and just thought it’d be a nice way to do a book before maybe somebody else does. I’d seen one in Japan that some kids did and I was so excited by what they did, and I thought, you know, if anyone’s gonna do this, it should be me.
You did it really well. Was it your idea to make it scrapbook-style and non-chronological?
Yeah, yeah. Non-chronological, not too much high fashion. More of just like, me. Just a regular girl, a little girl, a teen, on the street, like, Polaroid snapshots and then some high fashion images also. Kind of like, you know, how I bridged my real life and my business life.
How do you define style evolution?
Evolution, I’m not sure. I feel like people, obviously, their style evolves by what they’re exposed to and what they see, and maybe this book will inspire girls to try something that maybe they didn’t try before. I think it’s just more about exposure and also roots at the same time, and where you came from, and what you love, and just how you want to express yourself. I mean, I feel like my personal style is very similar to when I was a teenager, just maybe a little cleaned up, a little more refined.
Do you still relate to that period in your life?
I do. Very much so. And I think everybody always kind of has rose-colored glasses when they look at their youth. The things that they were into–at least I do.
I’ve heard that you’ve said you have a habit of keeping clothes forever.
What is your closet like? How do you store your clothes?
I have a storage space in Connecticut near where I grew up and it’s all alphabetized by designer and then like, Victorian and Halloween and high school, and then like, vintage designer and vintage-vintage. I recently made a big move from Manhattan to Brooklyn and I was in between places for a while so that was the impetus for getting the big storage space so I could still access my clothes when I was in between apartments. And I said, "I might as well just kind of catalog it all now." I like to save it because I never know if I’m gonna want to use it again. Hopefully I’ll have a child one day and she’ll want it. Something like that.
How do you preserve clothes?
It’s like, climate-controlled, and I try and dry-clean things before they go away. There’s no moths in there; they spray it. Some of it is not [dry cleaned]. Dry-cleaning is so expensive, and so some of the clothes I haven’t really taken as much care of. But the really nice items and the things that I really love, they’re not in plastic. And I hire my friends sometimes to help me with the organization and stuff.
Who have been your biggest style influences over time?
I think my biggest influences over time have just been like, friends and stylists and when I was younger, magazines, like ID and The Face and, you know, different musicians and like Debbie Harry to Kim Gordon. Women–and men–that had a true sense of themselves and maintained some sort of consistency were always people that inspired me. And then, people from Marlene Dietrich to Kate Moss or whoever, you know? People that I just think do it with ease and grace and are not over-burdened.… The clothes aren’t wearing them.
A lot of the pictures are Polaroid. What medium are you most comfortable in front of? Who snapped the photos?
It depends. One of my girlfriends probably has the most photos in there, her name is Lizzie, and she’s a real artist, and she’s taking her little point-and-shoots. I always know she’s going to take a great photo of me because she loves me and I feel like with a lot of the fashion people it’s like, if you know that they have a true love for you or find you really beautiful, then it’s easier to be in front of the camera for them. Some photographers don’t think you’re that pretty or something and you feel less comfortable. And then also knowing a photographer’s work really helps a lot. So I try, before I’m getting photographed by somebody, to research their work and see what they do with the lighting and their mood or if they have a real perspective or something they want to say in their photos. Then I feel more comfortable. Like [with] Inez van Lamsweerde or Mario Sorrenti, you know you’re in safe hands, and then it’s easier to be comfortable in front of the camera with them.
So you do your homework.
Yeah, I do. Well, I used to be a fashion magazine junkie and I would look at every month, every magazine that came out. Not so much in the last ten or fifteen years, but I still have a root base of that.
Which era of the book is your favorite?
Probably the early 2000s is when. After the 90s, just kind of being awkward, I feel like I kind of came into my body more and my face more. And I found it more collaborative than people just projecting onto me. So I think that added a lot to the images, and you know, how comfortable I felt in front of the camera and stuff.
What do you want people to take away from the book?
Just a sense of optimism and to inspire girls to not be ashamed of who they are, or expressing who they are, or what they want to be--and going for it even if you don’t think you’re the prettiest girl in the room. If you have a sense of self and style and something you want to say, then you can do it.