Chloë Sevigny is the ultimate girl crush, and yet to say so seems totally wrong – a crush is by its definition fleeting; an intense infatuation that fizzles out as quickly as it came about. Not so with Ms. Sevigny – she’s your cool high school girlfriend with staying power. And, as far as the fashion world is concerned, we’re still going steady. From her doe-eyed first appearance in Larry Clark’s Kids, to being a number one muse at Miu Miu, Chloë’s most fashionable moments are too numerous to count. But we attempted to anyway. The latest snapshot in a storied stylistic history is still to come, with NYFW set to bear witness to Sevigny’s sixth collection for Opening Ceremony this afternoon. It’s good to have you back, Chlo.
Whilst many actresses have started out their careers as models, not many found their first claim to fame as a magazine intern. 17-year-old Chloë modelled and also (at the behest of her mother) interned at teen magazine Sassy in the early 90s, during which time she stuck “mailing labels on things and stuff,” as well as sported some fetching headgear in her own dedicated shoots. The patchwork delight below was something Chloë made herself in her self-confessed skater-influenced phase. She was first discovered by stylist Andrea Linett at a newstand in NYC – turns out, she was actually cutting school. From Connecticut. Let’s put down Sevigny’s early style years as “Playing hooky, in hats.”
Chloë’s journey to becoming a paradigm of NY cool was well on its way by the time her first on-camera appearance came around: she appeared in Sonic Youth’s video for ‘Sugar Kane’ in ‘92. The video, at once a fly-on-the-wall clip of a Marc Jacobs-designed show and a recording of the young Sevigny on the streets of Manhattan, served to capture the essence of the It-girl’s allure. With shorn hair, baggy dungarees and sleeves too long for her arms, Sevigny showcased her less-than-model-perfect looks whilst simultaneously possessing the swagger of a seasoned pro. Kim Gordon and Chloë would later collab on a second fashion show – Chloë’s protest-inspired AW13 presentation for Opening Ceremony, at which Gordon played.
Gordon tapped Chloë for another film shortly after “Sugar Kane” – as directed by Phil Morrison, for her X-Girl clothing line. A droll Godard chick re-interpreted for the 90s NY scene, the short film sees Chloë recite aphoristic dialogue in the Nouvelle Vague style before sneaking into a Marc Jacobs fashion show – all whilst on the hunt for a mystery man named Gillian. “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins,” says Chloë; her nouveau-pudding bowl hair cut, 60s mini skirts and tight tees suggest that, even at this stage, nothing was going to come between the fashion world and Chloë.
Chloë Sevigny – sad-eyed and raw, like a painting – is the still point in the turning, turbulent world of teenhood portrayed in Larry Clark’s Kids. Playing a girl who tests HIV-positive after only a single sexual encounter, her personal tragedy and cropped hair is a modern day update on Mia Farrow wandering the streets of NY in Rosemary’s Baby. But there’s no supernatural mumbo jumbo here, just that same combination of vulnerability and determination, mingled with defeat – and that blue t-shirt.
DAZED COVER GIRL
As we (and the rest of the world) fell for Miss Sevigny, the May 96 issue of Dazed & Confused saw Chloë and her umlauts ëmblazoned on our front cover. Photographed by Rankin and styled by Jennifer Elster, 20-year-old Chloë speaks frankly about her relationship with Harmony (“He doesn’t like anything, and is really mean a lot.”), drugs (“I was more into downers…I’ve never snorted any drugs.”) and her “love” of 1990s UK governance (“Yeah, ‘fuck you’ to the British Parliament.”).
MIU MIU MUSE
A year after the release of Kids, designers were seriously courting Chloë. In Spring ‘96, she became the fresh-faced muse of Miuccia, fronting the naturalistic Miu Miu campaign for the season – as photographed by Juergen Teller, natch. With high collars and extreme crop tops pinning the collection somewhere between traditionally demure and extremely revealing, the campaign seemed to capture the contradictory appeal of Chloë herself. Chloë-as-Miuse also produced a classic backstage shot with one Kate Moss. She later revealed how “totally nerdy, uncomfortable and out of place” she felt standing next to a sexily posing Kate.
THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO
The naturalistic, softly-spoken acting style of (a longer-haired) Chloë found a natural fit with Whit Stillman’s Manhattanite ensembles of the late 90s. In The Last Days of Disco (1998) Chloë plays Alice, who, alongside her dominating sort-of-BFF Charlotte, works in publishing by day and haunts the huge discos of “the very early 1980s” by night. With a soundtrack to die for and sardonic dialogues of WASPishly high standards, the after-hours outfits of choice play as much a part as anything else. Chloë’s glitter lurex dresses and multicoloured sequin boob tubes are even more memorable when compared to the shirts and pencil skirts of the dynamic duo’s office jobs. Also: is this the first we saw of the inimitable Sevigny shimmy?
From one depiction of 80s yuppie culture to another (somewhat darker) portrayal, Chloë played the infatuated secretary Jean to Christian Bale’s mass-murdering Wall Street broker in 2000’s American Psycho. In a key scene, Bateman’s instruction to her to get changed before dinner sees Chloë transform from dowdy secretary to slinky first date. Plus: very good bangs.
Set in the NY club scene of the late 80s through to the 90s, Party Monster chronicles the rise and fall of “club-kid” Michael Alig – a promoter turned drug addict turned murderer who just got out of prison IRL. A not-so-baby faced Macaulay Culkin played the lead, joined by an excessive troupe of party people including Sevigny. She plays his “girlfriend”, Gitsie, who only speaks when Michael wants her to speak and whose girlish pastel minis and hair buns offset the drag queens’ Technicolor ostentation nicely.
THE BROWN BUNNY
Dubbed the noughties’ "most reviled film," Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny garnered more attention for its non-simulative oral sex scene between Sevigny and Gallo than it did for anything else. For Sevigny, it’s an "art film," like "an Andy Warhol movie." Whatever one might speculate about the making of The Brown Bunny, though, you’ve got to credit Sevigny for style points as well as general fearlessness – her ringlets, brown waistcoat and a pussybow blouse are en pointe.
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