Jurnee Smollett has had no shortage of dress-up opportunities as of late. This past weekend she was in Armani for the opening of The Academy Museum, and before that wore Dior for the Emmys, at which she was nominated for her role in “Lovecraft Country.” This week, she traveled to Paris to attend the Dior show, dressed by the brand, of course, and styled by her stylist Alexandra Mandelkorn. In the gallery above, she shares a behind-the-scenes look at her day spent getting ready for the show, and below chats about her Parisian adventure.
What has your first PFW been like? How is it different from other fashion experiences you’ve had?
“The last time I was in Paris was in 2013. I remember walking down the Champs-Élysées, going into the many Dior shops and marveling at the craftsmanship that went into making the designs. I can recall dreaming of the day I would be able to afford even one item from the store. Needless to say, wearing a Dior Haute Couture gown to the Emmys designed by Maria Grazia, attending PFW at the invitation of my lovely friends at Dior, is quite a full-circle moment for me. It’s thrilling. A real dream come true.”
Aside from fashion, what else do you plan to do in Paris?
“It’s my birthday week and my younger brothers, Jake and Jocqui, flew here with me to celebrate. Paris is one of the most magical and inspiring cities on earth — it’s an artist’s heaven. I’m going to hop around to a few of the museums and try to see as much art as I can while here. I really want to have a picnic in the Tuileries garden. My stylist, Alexandra Mandelkorn, is dying to take me to the burlesque show at Crazy Horse, which could be fun.”
What about Dior aligns with your personal style?
“What I love so much about Dior is the way Maria Grazia Chiuri and the brand are able to seamlessly weave aspects of feminine and masculine dressing together. It makes me feel simultaneously powerful and soft, dangerous and self assured. There’s no other feeling quite like being robed in a Dior design.”
Favorite look/piece from the collection?
“I loved how Maria Grazia found a way to pay homage to the heritage of the brand while incorporating elements that made it feel modern and fresh. She is boldly embracing the radical spirit of the 1960s which is an era that, as an artist, I draw so much inspiration from. The colorblocking and bold animal prints were so exciting to me. I also love how Maria Grazia brings elements of sportswear into her collections. I’m such a fan of sports and found myself drooling over the boxing shorts and robes. So innovative and unexpected.”
In in the past year or so you’ve had so many amazing fashion moments from press tours and awards shows: what has your recent fashion journey been like? In what ways has your style evolved?
“I feel fashion is such a form of creative expression and I’ve really leaned into taking risks and being more bold with my dressing. I’ve gone through an intense period of transition in my life, in my womanhood. I feel a level of freedom and openness, a desire to explore different sides of my womanhood, which I’m blessed to be able to express through my fashion choices. My stylist always tells me fashion is as exciting as you want to make it. I want to hold space for the expansion of ideas of what fashion can be and who fashion can be for, whether that means wearing more traditionally masculine styles as a woman, or silhouettes not traditionally worn in certain spaces, etc.
“I spent much of the promo tour and even part of awards season for ‘Lovecraft Country’ in front of a computer on Zooms. At first I thought ‘Oh this is silly to get dressed up if I’m only going to my living room!’ But then I found joy in being able to express myself and play, even if I never left my house. I wasn’t getting dressed for anyone else, I was getting dressed for me, which I think really freed me up and made me want to just have fun and play. I get inspired by clothes that have some edge, have an element of danger or play to them, whether that’s more cosmopolitan and clean, or a little more grungy and punk, really depends on the day and what mood I’m in. My stylist Ali and I have tried to incorporate an element of play into each look, with unexpected pairings. Putting bulky loafers with a fancy dress, layering necklaces, stacked earrings and ear cuffs, suspenders, and lots and lots of rings. More is more! Haha.”
What are your post PFW plans?
“I’ll be traveling to New York to attend Comic Con next week. Hoping to squeeze in some Broadway shows and visit the Dior exhibit at BAM while there.”
Jurnee Smollett’s hair was done by Nai’vasha and makeup by Vincent Oquendo.