In an era where seemingly everything is mined for inspiration—or, let’s be frank, appropriation—what does it take to be truly one of a kind? A willingness to break the rules is essential; a strong sense of personal style certainly doesn’t hurt; but most of all, you need to have a truly meaningful point of view. At W we are all about celebrating originality, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite people who are constantly pushing boundaries, and asked them to share valuable insights. They may be just starting out or in the prime of their careers, but they are all leading the conversation in their chosen fields—whether it’s fashion, art, film, music, photography, or even skateboarding. The bottom line is that, regardless of their differences, they all share one very important trait: for them, standing out, rather than blending in, is not an option but a necessity.
Chloë Sevigny has been acting for more than two decades, during which she has received a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award, as well as Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. She is also a director, designer, and recently debuted her own fragrance. She is currently filming the HBO miniseries, We Are Who We Are.
You are set to star in Luca Guadagnino’s forthcoming HBO miniseries, We Are Who We Are. How did you two meet?
We had a fast and furious hangover-lunch-eating-chicken-tenders kind of meeting in Cannes. We just got on like a house on fire. We’ve got a lot of friends in common in fashion and a similar outlook and attitude. Coming-of-age is one of my favorite film genres, and the project with Luca is basically a teen film, but now I’m the parent.
You grew up in Connecticut. Do you remember your first trip to New York?
My father commuted to Manhattan, so he would bring me in when I was a little girl for, like, Daddy and Daughter Day. I remember I had this little suit and tie, and he taught me how to tie a tie. I must have been like 5.
Do you still have moments now when you visit a certain area in the city and have vivid flashbacks or memories?
Every single time I walk into Washington Square Park, I swear to God, I get a weird feeling of vertigo. I spent so much time there as a teenager, and I got cast for Kids there, and it was where I was kind of discovered by Sassy magazine. I just spent so many of my formative days in that park that I still get misty-eyed.
Do you think New York has changed for the worse over the years?
It seems like what everyone is complaining about in New York is happening everywhere. With the Internet and the world becoming so much smaller, the specificity of “I’m going to New York to find something I can’t find anywhere else in the world” just doesn’t exist anymore. That’s what I mourn.
Kids was such a major, seminal film at the time, and it still is. If it came out today, do you think it would have the same polarizing reaction?
I don’t even know if it could come out today. It’s really racy. I saw it a few years ago when it was its 20th anniversary, and I was shocked. Kids changed everything for me, because since then I’ve been working with auteurs, which is what I set out to do. Doing commercial fare wasn’t what I was striving for.
Do you watch shows that get Kids comparisons? Do you watch Euphoria?
I haven’t. Everyone keeps asking, “What do you think? I want to know what you think.” I heard that there’s a lot of more female characters, which is nice. Kids was a little lacking in that department. But, no I haven’t watched it. And I love teen films. Coming-of-age is one of my favorite genres. I always harken back to teen films.
What’s the role that scared you the most?
I don’t think I’d get the part of the transgender contract killer on Hit & Miss now—you’d have to have a person who is actually trans or transitioning. That role posed a lot of challenges. I felt a lot of responsibility toward the LGBTQ community and had to do an accent and wear a prosthetic thing, and I had to be in Manchester for six months. I also had to look capable with a gun.
Who were your first fashion inspirations?
Mostly kids I would see around who were interesting. That holds true for today, even. My older brother was an influence. He was really into punk and hardcore and the hip-hop scene, and he exposed me to things I might not have been otherwise.
Who do you think has original style?
My friend Haley Wollens, who styles me a lot. She is just the be-all and end-all. Tilda Swinton always looks great and just does her own thing. I really respect that.
Do you think Instagram has changed fashion and the notion of being original?
I remember being on the beach this summer and seeing a girl with pink hair, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s alternative, like it used to. She can just be really into Miley Cyrus, you know? All of the social media hodgepodge makes it more confusing in terms of determining one’s interests. It all to me seems like fashion now—there doesn’t seem to be any authentic whatever. Or maybe that is what’s authentic. I don’t know.