Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony is the perfect embodiment of every quality that makes her the girl crush to end all girl crushes—cool but not bored, sweet but not sugarily so. It was her personal style and way of rocking it that got her noticed in the first place so it’s amazing she doesn’t just design a bunch of weird-but-awesome stuff that only she could pull off. Actually, two days after her resort 2012 collection hit stores, one style of a black leather dress with a detachable zipper skirt was already sold out. She’s a girl’s girl, this one! Right now I am actually working on a pitch for Lifetime, a movie about female bonding where a bunch of gals walk around in their matching Chloe Sevs dresses. I haven’t really figured out where the conflict would be yet. I mean, why would you want to ruin such a beautiful thing?
The whole collection had a good teen-angst vibe—varsity jackets but not without hair carelessly hanging in front of the face and whatnot—but she could probably explain it all better herself. Determined to get the REAL STORY behind all those cute eyelet cut-outs, I ventured out to the Opening Ceremony store in New York City last Saturday. Here, a hard-hitting account! PLUS: juicy gossip about skateboarders from over 15 years ago! Also, she has the best laugh in the world.
TAVI: OK, so, welcome to Chloe for Opening Ceremony! Tell us a little bit about your inspiration.
CHLOE: It came from lots of different places. I’m kind of like a hodgepodge, I like to mix all different things. Obviously there was the Vision Street Wear stuff, coming from boys that I knew growing up that were kinda badass—growing up in the suburbs, you can always identify the other troubled kids by the way they dress. Vision was very much that—you knew if they had Vision shoes on, they had something interesting going on inside their little brains.
Were you a troubled kid?
[Laughs] I was very troubled, yes. Me and my brother both—we were troubled and troublemakers. But I kind of wanted to mix that stuff with some sort of finer pieces: all of the eyelet white cotton, and the leather laser-cut pieces.
I was told that everything’s either leather or cotton, like good girl/bad girl?
Right. Most of the pieces will come either in leather or in the white. So yes, it’s very much that angel or devil on my shoulder. You can go either way.
And there are like handcuffs and a gartery thing goin’ on.
There’s a little bit of an S&M thing, which I guess was last season, not that I ever pay attention to that. To me that S&M influence is kind of a timeless thing. That leather-daddy look is almost like a classic look now.
And you did swimwear for the first time.
I did. A lot of the time Humberto [Leon, of Opening Ceremony] convinces me to do stuff that I’m not really even that excited about. He’s like, “Oh, you should do swimwear! We’re doing swimwear now!” And then it’s like, this was supposed to be red, and it’s obviously orange. A lot of the time it can be a little frustrating the way things don’t turn out the way you exactly want them to. Swimwear fabric is so difficult. I don’t know if you wear swimsuits.
I don’t swim! That’s like athletic.
[Laughs] Even buying a swimsuit is super difficult. And then making one is even harder. So, yeah, this was kind of an Humberto thing. [The line] is a collaboration between him and I, and a lot of the time he comes up with different ideas. We bounce ideas off each other. And of course they want to have a bigger line, because the bigger the line, the more they sell. It is a business—which I like to know nothing about. Humberto’s always trying to push me to do more and more product, where I would like to less and less so I can have everything really perfect. And then something like the swimsuits happen, where it’s not exactly something that I think is the perfect swimsuit. So sometimes it’s a little frustrating in that way. But I guess I should stay positive. [Laughs]
Oh, yeah! [In fake journalism voice] “Chloe was seven minutes late, and then she just trash-talked…” Wanna talk about these sunglasses?
Yeah, we can talk about sunglasses, and accessories. Only a little bit of the stuff is here so far. Most of the sneakers, as you can see—these are all reissues of old classic Vision Streetwear sneakers. [One of them is] leopard, which is a favorite that I always go back to. Every year, almost, we’ve done a leopard thing. Sweater dresses, shoes—every year we infuse leopard somewhere. Actually, growing up, I only thought crazy people wore animal print. Until a few years ago, I never wore animal print. I hated animal print. And now it’s a mainstay.
I don’t know! I think it was the first collection, when we decided to do shoes. Maybe it was a pin-up thing, or I liked the way leopard clashed with the floral. And then the sunglasses…these are kind of similar to a style that I found in China, which I think were some kind of weird government-issue thing. We kind of scour the earth for inspiration. I went to China with Carol [Lim] and Humberto and the whole Opening Ceremony team. We went to Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Wow. How was that?
Amazing. Beijing was my favorite. Shanghai is very European-feeling, and Hong Kong is just like very techy, but Beijing seemed the most unlike anywhere I’d ever been before. It’s very flat and wide; you can feel the really old China influence. We went to the Great Wall of China, and when we were walking on it, it was a really warm sunny day, and then we got to the top and all of a sudden this crazy windstorm happened. It was spring, and all of these cherry-blossom petals were swirling around in the wind. And then all of a sudden it started snowing!
That’s so apocalyptic.
It was pretty magical.
So this is gonna be in our December issue, whose theme is Home. It sounds like Vision Street Wear was kind of part of your growing up in the suburbs. What else was home for you?
Well for me it was very much my bedroom. I was really into my bedroom. From when I was a really small girl on, I would pick every fabric, every color on the walls, and I was always redecorating. Like once every couple of months I would redecorate my room. I had a full wall that was all collage—the entire wall—when I was in junior high. And then it would kind of morph with me as I was growing. My room was a real way of expressing myself. It was like a little nest that I could settle into. And it was on the first floor, so…[laughs] we had a one-story house, so it was easy to hop out the window and sneak out at night. But I don’t know if we should promote that!
Well, now we’re working on January, and the theme’s Up All Night, and we have a thing on sneaking out.
I once came home and my mom was lying in my bed.
That’s so scary!
Yeah. It was the worst. But [sneaking out] was very easy. Because it was a one-story house—like a ranch house—you could just hop out the window. And my parents’ bedroom was to the left, so I would go to the right, and have to go all the way around, and I was afraid they would hear me even walking through the yard, so I’d go through neighbors’ yards. And we’d, like, meet up at the church, you know, by the big tree. It was nothing untoward—we were just French kissing, or doing innocent things. We weren’t even drinking. It was the thrill of it.
What kind of stuff was in your wall collage?
It depended on the year. I would photograph it, too. So I have a lot of old pictures of, you know, posters and, you know, this boy that rode for Blind Skateboards, and I’d have his ads up. Mark Gonzales, who rode for Vision Skateboards, left, and the skaters were really upset with the way that Vision were running the brand and marketing them, so Mark and another guy started Blind.
Ooh! Hot skate gossip from the ’90s!
[Laughs] Yeah, Jason Lee used to ride on Blind, and I was really into him. I had his photo on my wall. Kim, from Sonic Youth—I had her picture. Sebadoh posters. I had different things my brother had drawn in art class, too.
Yes. Current high school art, I had a lot of that up—things that I had done and different friends had done. I was really into celebrating my friends’ drawings.
Have you kept any of that stuff?
I’ve kept everything. I have everything that’s ever been on my wall from junior high through this year. Even when I go in different movies, I notice I’ll collect certain things, and put certain things on the wall or in my trailer, and then I’ll keep them all, like, per year, so I can remember what I was going through or what I was into that year.
Oh my god!
Yeah, I’m a little bit of a hoarder.
One day you’ll have to put it all in a book or something. Is there anything you would tell a teenage version of yourself, if you could?
Um…oh god, I hate this question.
Well, because I always have the same answers!
It is kind of a stock teen-magazine question.
I wish I had focused on school more. I was really not into academics. That was part of how I rebelled. And I think that if I had stuck with it, and then gone on to college—I started working right after high school—I think I probably would be a more confident person right now. Which is a boring kind of thing your mother would say to you! [Laughs] But it’s honest. That is really how I feel. And I wish that my parents had been harder on me about it. ’cause after my brother they didn’t know what to do, so they kind of like let me do whatever. Which is fine—I was into my own things, you know, and wrote papers about the Lower East Side and immigrants in New York and the Nation of Islam, and weird things like that. But I wish I had paid more attention and focused more on school. And I wish that I had told myself…yeah, the whole “it gets better” thing. Because it’s still hard for me to go back to the town where I grew up. I just get really despondent when I get there. I think it’s all the feelings of growing up there—it’s still hard to be there.
Was it a small town?
It was a pretty small town. There were less than 500 kids at my school. We went to other towns looking for kids, because our school was pretty tiny, for a public high school. I would go to the surrounding towns—Greenwich, New Canaan, Westport—and find the other kids. All the weirdos. And then I would of course come into Manhattan, and I started working at Sassy, and, you know, hanging out in Washington Square, and met lots of kids here, and that opened up a whole other thing for me.
Has it ever felt weird kind of starting as a “weirdo,” and then being celebrated for that and suddenly being on the other side of culture? Like, going from an outsider to an insider, in a way?
But I don’t feel like an insider. I mean I am a bit, I guess, in fashion—I feel like I was always embraced by fashion. Fashion embraces the weirdos. They’re into that. They’re into, you know, taking anybody’s idea [laughs] and running with it, or influence, you know? There are always young people that people in fashion are interested in. You know, youth and vitality and energy—it brings something different. But I never felt like an insider in Hollywood in any way, shape, or form. I feel like a lot of the Hollywood kids are also kind of weirdos in their own way. They were probably theater nerds, you know, in high school. But I still don’t feel like part of the Hollywood clique, and that’s OK. You know, I live in New York, and I don’t really hang out with a lot of actors. It’s not really my world. But I do feel a lot of the perks of being a celebrity, like getting a table and stupid shit like that. [Laughs] It’s just the way it is. ♦