CANNES, France — It’s five hours before the opening ceremony of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and Luka Sabbat — one of the world’s hottest influencers, with 1.8 million followers on Instagram — is desperately seeking a suit.
Sitting nearby, his father — or “dadager” — Clark Sabbat, looks concerned.
Seated on the roof terrace of the 3.14 hotel, with views on the Croisette and sparkling Mediterranean, Sabbat, who plays a zombie in the night’s film — Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” — his first feature film, is at a welcoming party in his honor, red “vintage Dior” aviators in place. “I changed the lenses. Life is so much more grim without color, I only wear tinted glasses,” he explains.
Hosting the event are La Journée and Bodvár House of Rosés, but Sabbat, dressed in a Celine suit with a vintage T-shirt depicting “some old wizard guy” and marked with the words “Just passin’ thru” doesn’t drink.
He’s in town for one night before flying to Japan for a mystery personal project — “something so brand new, it’s visual, it’s audio,” he teases.
Here the multihyphenate talent, who ended up buying a women’s Celine suit to wear on the red carpet, paired with a ruffled tuxedo shirt, talks hanging with Selena Gomez, being covered in goo, and mentors.
WWD: You’re still looking for a suit. Do you not work with a stylist?
Luka Sabbat: No. Most of the time I am the stylist.
WWD: What are you looking for in terms of attitude?
L.S.: Just sleek and serious. Youthful.
WWD: So, how was it working with Jim Jarmusch?
L.S.: Jim Jarmusch is tight, and mad calm. He just trusts the actors, asks us how we feel about takes and if we want to do another one. And if everybody’s, like, ‘We’re good,’ [it’s wrapped]. Of course, sometimes he wants something very specific.
WWD: How did you research your role? Did you watch “Thriller”?
L.S.: I love Woody Harrelson so I just watched “Zombieland,” which is a completely different kind of film.
WWD: Did it involve hours in the makeup chair being covered in slime?
L.S.: Something really bad happens to me in the film, I was covered in blood. It’s gross, this weird goo. Those makeup people make the craziest stuff. I was in the trailer when they were making some people’s zombie outfits and makeup, blending the plastic prosthetics with the makeup.
WWD: Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Iggy Pop — it’s quite the cast. Who were your scenes with?
L.S.: We were a group: it’s me, Austin Butler and Selena Gomez…Being in Woodstock [for the filming], we kind of had nothing else to do, so we just chilled, hung out by the bonfires.
WWD: Has it whet your appetite to do more films?
L.S.: Definitely, I’m reading a few scripts, but it’s about finding something that’s feasible for my lifestyle. With the show I film in L.A., “Grown-ish,” so much of my time has to be allocated to that, and I also have Hot Mess, my company, then there are all the fashion schedules…I’m busy all days of the year.
WWD: You’ve starred in campaigns for brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas Originals and The Kooples. What feeds your personal style in terms of inspirations?
L.S.: Watching movies — in “Natural Born Killers,” Woody Harrelson wears these red circular glasses which inspired me to get these red glasses. There are a lot of red scenes in that movie. Boot-cut suits because of “No Country for Old Men”…
A lot of my inspiration comes from feelings and experiences. I got a lot of inspiration when I went to Durango, Colo. Or traveling the world, especially going to Japan, you see all these crazy things.
Also, just doing archival research on my favorite designers — Raf Simons, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, [Martin] Margiela. I have a big archive of clothes in New York; the third floor of my house is all my clothes.
WWD: How do you store them? Are you quite meticulous?
L.S.: No, I’m a hot mess. I lose s–t all the time, I find them months later…
WWD: The Elton John biopic is premiering here later this week. Are you into his style?
L.S.: His style is tight.
WWD: Your archives, is this because you’re building up to having your own label?
L.S.: I would never have a brand. There’s enough good clothes out there. I like consulting and working with people that make clothes, though. There are already so many brands that I like, Cactus Plant Flea Market, Kiko, Jacquemus. Having a brand is a lot of work.
WWD: In terms of what you want to specialize in, would you say your generation is very much about not being confined to one thing?
L.S.: Yes, hopping around and trying all these things. This whole scene is basically all the same people. Fashion has merged with music and film, so I never feel unwelcome or alienated because it doesn’t feel too far from home. You’re always two people away from someone you know.
WWD: Do you have any mentors?
L.S.: Virgil [Abloh] is one of my mentors; I’ve known him for eons and he’s definitely one of the most inspirational people right now. I always knew he was going to be huge, but I’m also excited for where he’s going. I don’t think he has limits right now, he’s the first of his kind. Designing for a new generation that has a new way of thinking, in a new political and media climate. It’s a new blueprint. I love Shayne Oliver from Hood By Air…There are so many inspirational people.
WWD: “The Dead Don’t Die” has environmental messages. Would you say it’s one of the biggest challenges for your generation?
L.S.: One of them, for sure, besides ignorance. I did a gallery show with the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council] and I do believe that climate change is a real thing. I’m 21, I have a whole lotta life to live on this planet. I want kids and s–t.
WWD: Do you believe in a future life on Mars? Would you go on one of Elon Musk’s space trips?
L.S.: No. One, I don’t trust it. Two, we have this! It’s like, why are you looking at other places? Just fix this s–t instead!
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