“It’s a pretty hardcore schedule,” Chloë Sevigny said during a break from jury duty for the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week. The section is dedicated to first and second films by directors, so “the work tends to be a bit more raw, provocative, challenging; usually it’s smaller budgets,” explained the indie actress-director.
Sevigny herself has starred in four films that made the festival’s Official Selection over the years, including “The Brown Bunny” in 2003 and “Zodiac” in 2007. She returned to the event in 2016 to present her directorial debut, a short titled “Kitty.”
A born influencer since her breakout role in Larry Clark’s cult-classic “Kids” in the mid-Nineties, which also made the Official Selection in Cannes, Sevigny has stuck to mainly wearing Chanel, a relatively safe choice for the festival.
“It’s so hard when you’re here in Cannes and you’re so in the midst of it. You’re dealing with two outfits a day, then you’re seeing your image — and then trying to recover from seeing your image. Then trying to delete all the bad ones you’re tagged in thinking that’s going to make a difference and make you feel better. It’s really a lose-lose for me,” she deadpanned.
Sevigny, who describers herself as “very OCD” about the organization of her wardrobe at home in New York, prefers to plan her outfits “because last-minute-ness would give me anxiety.” But it’s hard to keep full control on a long-haul festival like Cannes.
“Going through the hair and makeup process here and wearing these clothes that aren’t yours, it’s hard to feel like yourself and I’m thinking, maybe next time I need to incorporate more of my own to feel more comfortable in my own skin,” she said. “There’s always such a facade, I feel like you have to play that game to a certain extent, because everybody else is like that on the carpet….but then maybe it’s chicer to not even do that. I’m trying to figure out how to manage it, I’ve never been at a festival for this long before.”
Dressed in itty-bitty jean shorts, a vintage T-shirt and a Chanel tweed jacket, Sevigny talked to WWD about her approach to dressing — both on and off the red carpet — and how she’s learned to look at films differently thanks to her jury duty.
WWD: Tell us about the experience of being on the Critics’ Week jury.
Chloë Sevigny: “We have an amazing president, filmmaker Joachim Trier. He’s a real film lover and he’s a teacher, so he is very good at leading the discussions. He’s very democratic — he’s also Norwegian so he has that Scandi vibe. I’m really impressed with how he’s leading conversations and how we make decisions, because it’s a pretty big responsibility. For me, the most interesting thing has been thinking about how we all judge everything all the time. It’s our nature, but when you have this responsibility, you are watching films with a different critical eye.
WWD: Watching these films in the company of the jury, are you able to really get into them, are you letting yourself go?
C.S.: I’m letting myself cry. I like to have time afterward to absorb things. We exit right after we see the films and then I usually go back to my hotel and take notes. And then all the critical talking about it helps to re-engage you if you didn’t have time to process it.
WWD: You’ve been wearing mainly Chanel for your stay in Cannes.
C.S.: It’s so much easier to work with one house just in terms of logistics, and I thought it was more of a coherent story, to wear Chanel in France.
WWD: What else are you sprinkling in?
C.S.: I have my vintage T-shirt and my Levi’s, some Y/Project. I love them, the reimagining, in a Margiela way….I know that’s what everybody’s doing right now: Margiela is the man. They’re really fresh, there’s something edgy and sexy and arty, all the things I like to hit on at once.
WWD: Are you experimenting with a certain mood right now?
C.S.: I guess I’m playing with the aging thing, what I can still get away with. I wear jean shorts, I know.
WWD: Are you working on any new film projects?
C.S.: Yes, my third short. It’s about five women in their 30s and their individual relationships with their power….How they convince other people of their power, and whether or not they believe in their power. And then when they get confronted with actually obtaining that power, how it makes them feel. Because any artist, any writer, anybody in any field can question their own validity or authenticity. I’m also, like, “Can I even act?” It’s an exploration of all of that.
WWD: Any fashion or beauty projects?
C.S.: I just did a lipstick with La Bouche Rouge. I always wear an orange/red lipstick and I can never find a good one. They come in these leather cases with your initials, and it’s refillable. It’s supposed to be sustainable. Ezra Petronio is behind their packaging and imagery, and proceeds go to different charities. They partner with Parley, the company that recycles plastic found in the ocean.
WWD: Do you archive your clothes?
C.S.: I do. I sold a bunch on The RealReal last month because I’m moving into a new apartment and my closets are smaller. I’m trying to purge more, and also trying to encourage other women that we don’t have to wear new all the time. There are so many amazing sites where you can buy slightly worn things. You can buy something newish and still satiate that craving to have something new.
WWD: As someone who grew up thrifting, is this something you practice yourself?
C.S.: I’m on a six-month hiatus from buying anything — for my head, for the planet, for both. Every year or so I’ll do a six-month hiatus because I get wrapped up myself in the wants and how it makes me feel, the ego boost of being in something new. It’s about being more comfortable with the things that I have, and not constantly desiring.