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Tom Lenk LENKLEWK
Tom Lenk takes on Balenciaga SS17 menswear@TommyLenk

The ex-Buffy actor behind Instagram’s best fashion parodies

Mimicking magazines and copying the catwalk, meet Tom Lenk – the man behind @dazedfashion’s account of the week

Whether you endorse it or not, it’s safe to say that social media has birthed a new generation of fashion style stars (they’re the people pretending to text in front of a wall of photographers outside shows, FYI). But perhaps one of the most unlikely is Tom Lenk – the actor beloved for his roles on era-defining shows Buffy and Angel – whose Instagram series of snappily-titled LENKLEWKS has seen him DIY everything from Balenciaga menswear to Björk’s swan dress. We caught up with Lenk to chat TK Maxx, making gowns out of rubbish and how the only thing you need to be haute is a glue gun. 

When did you start doing Lenk Lewks? 

Tom Lenk: I have always been on the forefront of low price HI FASHUN LEWKS, but the idea to take my creations to Instagram came during the Met Gala red carpet coverage. I thought I would see how many outfits I could recreate with stuff I found around the house and I haven’t stopped since! FASHUN is the air I breathe and I want to show everyone how they can make haute couture with a HAWT GLEW GUHN.

What are the key components of a good Lenk Lewks?

Tom Lenk: Sometimes what makes a GEWD LenkLewk is when I don’t try at all (i.e. my Taylor Swift Lewk: a pair of jeans and two red plastic bowls) it’s FUN and FASHUNable without trying too hard. Other times what makes a GEWD LENK LEWK is when I try WAY too hard (i.e. my fully functional tarp coat for the Jared Leto/Margot Robbie Lewk). I was in London this summer and my friend told me I could find cheap flowers to make the Adele “Send My Love” dress at the local Tesco. As I walked to Tesco, I came upon Floral Street. So I had to turn onto Floral street, right? It was a sign. A block down on Floral Street, was TK MAXX. So I had to go in right? I immediately found two women’s floral jackets that LEWKED remarkably like Adele’s dress. I didn’t have to try at all. Why try, when you get let the LEWK, do the WERK itself? Ah, Adele. That was a GEWD LEWK.

Which outfit has been the most fun to make?

Tom Lenk: The Grease liquorice and chip wigs were particularly satisfying as I had no idea what to GLEW the FEWD to. I ended up molding aluminium siding sheets to my head to create a sort of solid wig cap in which to use as a base. It was a “make it WERK” moment that really paid off. Plus my friend Courtney and I enjoyed snacking on our “materials” as we crafted! 

Which was the most difficult?

Tom Lenk: I find that I tackle most FASHUN challenges with grace and poise, but GAHDAMMIT the Zooey Deschanel Lenk Lewk ORIGINAL trash dress took FOREVER. And I tried making it out of pashmina wraps at first. It wasn’t working and I just couldn’t ‘wrap’ (see what I did there) my head around it! I overworked it and then finally started over and used a pile of trash plastic tarp and tissue paper and it finally all came together! And also I burned my fingers quite a bit with the GLEW GUHN that day. But it was worth it since I play Zooey in the MISMATCH Game at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center where we raise money for their homeless youth program! I wanted Zooey to have a dress that looked like she crafted it herself with her own quirky craft kit. I think the audience really loved it and it was easily recycled after I got off stage!

What might people not realise about the pictures you post?

Tom Lenk: I don’t have anyone helping me, though sometimes I’ll ask my neighbour to take a picture of me with my iPhone. While I was travelling through Iceland in a Björk swan dress I made out of plastic cups, I had a lightweight tripod and a Bluetooth remote to take the pics. I think I left my Bluetooth remote key chain thingy somewhere near a waterfall outside of Reykjavik. If anyone finds it… hit me up! Also, I could use an intern here in LA, if you know someone who likes Golden Retrievers, quick trips to the Dollar store, and doesn’t mind duct taping my sweaty naked body into a cascading roll of aluminium foil.

How much did you previously keep up with fashion? Do you make more of an effort now?

Tom Lenk: I have seen every episode of Project Runway and I love how satisfying the reveal of the final outfit is!  And essentially I have reversed the “unconventional materials” challenge and applied it to my every day life. On PR, they take these materials to create an original LEWK, I’m taking the original LEWK and seeing what materials I can make it out of!  Now I find myself paying more attention to the fashion I see in Magazines and in social media and I just wait for something to catch my eye. I also find LenkLewks in billboards, music videos, famous movie scenes, so now it’s expanded from just a FASHUN label to an entire LIFESTYLE BRAND!  

“I could use an intern here in LA, if you know someone who likes Golden Retrievers, quick trips to the Dollar store, and doesn’t mind duct taping my sweaty naked body into a cascading roll of aluminium foil” – Tom Lenk

How has your past work in acting trained you to so uncannily impersonate the fashionable and famous?

Tom Lenk: I spent a good portion of my year last year doing the one-man play, ‘Buyer and Cellar’. It’s an almost two-hour tour de force in which the actor seamlessly goes back and forth between multiple characters (no wigs or plastic cup dresses), one of the characters being Ms Barbra Joan Streisand. It was an incredible opportunity and lesson in the art of playing pretend. I mean, if you boil acting down to its basic form…it’s elementary school playing pretend and using your imagination, which then allows the audience to use their imagination! I’m doing the same thing with the Lenk Lewk. I’m not trying to get everything perfect. I’m throwing outfits together with shit I find around the house. I mean, it’s ridiculous and stupid and deeply creatively satisfying for me. I think in a world where we are glued to our phones and screens and refreshing to cut and paste – in reality – with actual scissors and glue. Also, learning an almost two-hour non-stop monologue that I performed eight times made me feel like anything else I tackle creatively or professionally is a piece of CAYKE!  

Has anything unexpected come out of posting your Lewks?

Tom Lenk: Well, there’s now a TV show version in development that encompasses not just FASHUN, but celebrity, pop culture, TV, films, music videos, which is kind of a combination of all the things I’ve been putting out via Instagram! I mean it’s about time I had my own show right?! It’s time for this professional sidekick to SIDE KICK his way into the HAUSHOLD HI FASHUN SPOTLIGHT!  

@tommylenk