CHLOE SEVIGNY: THE ORIGINAL NEW YORKER
Actress cum designer is crowd-funding a new film project
by Leah Sinclair
It was recently announced that Chloe Sevigny is crowd-funding for her newest film project, ‘Slow Machine’. Described as "a screwball thriller about performance and surveillance,” the Joe DeNardo and Paul Felten directed movie will be entirely filmed using a 16mm, creating a lo-fi flick which will fit on Sevigny’s unique filmography ever so perfectly. News of a new project from Sevigny is understandably met with intrigue — as the indie actress/designer and fashion icon is known for her interesting range when it comes to fashion, film and everything in-between. But just what is it about the enigmatic actress-cum-model-cum designer that continues to keep our attention? A new film, new clothing collaboration, new fashion editorial – anything Sevigny puts her attention to is met with excitement from avid followers and has been since the 1990s. As Kids celebrated its 20th birthday this year, and we look towards the future work of Ms. Sevigny, we also reflect on the launch of star who cultivated the ultimate ‘it girl paradigm’ and continues to draw us in decades after her silver screen debut.
Sevigny was brought up in the suburbs of New York, half an hour away from the city. In a town, which she describes as “a really white bread, blue blood town,” Sevigny always felt disconnected from her Connecticut upbringing and felt a strong connection to the allure of New York. Once she moved to the city, her cool girl quality began to take shape, from interning at Sassy magazine to starring in Sonic Youth’s video for ‘Sugar Kane.’ Her oddly intriguing look, relaxed attitude and natural style intrigued many, including Larry Clark who enlisted Sevigny to star in Kids.
Since her debut in Kids, Sevigny has managed to keep an air of mystery to her, which can be credited to her alternative vibe. In a time where buxom blondes, Playboy models and traditional beauties ruled the cinema screen and magazine covers, Sevigny provided an antithesis to the female image that was consistently portrayed in the media during the 90s. She didn’t fit into any box, and couldn’t be labelled as ‘pretty,’ ‘cute,’ ‘girly’ or ‘feminine’. She had an image and aura, which was a myriad mix that could not be defined and that mixture has yet to be successfully duplicated.
The alternative cool girl is an image which has been cultivated by Sevigny – whether she’d admit that or not. Her appearance in fashion ad campaigns for the likes of Miu Miu, to numerous fashion editorials shot by Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller only cemented her status in the fashion industry, as she could be seen in indie publications like Purple, Self Service and The Face. In a maximalist age where excessiveness ruled, Sevigny’s relaxed approach and too-cool-for-school attitude not only intrigued viewers, but fashion’s key players as well, leading to a fruitful career in the fashion industry, with an extremely popular collaboration with clothing brand Opening Ceremony.
While Sevigny’s cool demeanour and fashion credits are part of her charm, her colorful filmography definitely is the most exciting element to explore. As a young Hollywood actress, who could have delved into the typical Hollywood machine of Marvel movies and cheesy romantic comedies, Sevigny has remained dedicated to independent cinema and quality roles which link to her quirky personality. From her debut in Kids, to controversial roles in Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny and Big Love, to critically acclaimed films like Boys Don’t Cry and cult hits like American Psycho – Sevigny never fails to pick interesting roles, and within her twenty-year career, she refuses to comprise her creativity. While the ‘it’ girl trope is commonly reserved for temporary starlets with one hit movie, then fading into obscurity, Sevigny’s intriguing filmography has kept us invested in her and wanting to see what she does next.
But you know what really keeps us interested in Sevigny in 2015? She is a frequent reminder of a time we use to live or for some — a time we wished we lived. In a pre-internet age, Sevigny is a defining link to the 90s, a time of ravers, skate kids, and the creation of the all around gritty New York alternative girl who has done and lived it all. The stories she could tell alone is enough to keep us intrigued for decades. And you know what? I think we will.