5 Iconic Chloë Sevigny Moments
The fashion history of Chloë Sevigny reads like a handbook on how to be femme grunge. Her paper trail of press photographs, gritty editorials, and rare early polaroids (in all their glory in her hardcover eponymous coffee table clunker) patches together a picture of a truly anti-establishment icon with genuinely IDGAF, smoke-inside-my-locker aesthetic.
The catch is that if you’re reading the Sevigny fashion discography for pointers (because let’s be real, her vibes are a look right now), you’ve got to squint beyond her whacky grunge getups: the zeitgeist of Sevigny derives from an actual attitude and a way of being in the world as much as it does from her killer bleached bowl cuts, boyband heartthrob macrame chokers, and unapologetically un-styled or eccentrically ill-fitting victorian dresses.
The ethos of the Sevigny style legacy says something about pre-internet New York, when “alternative” was still a viable idea,and DIY was still in its original iteration. Maybe that New York is permanently locked in the past, but as we saunter through post-punk, post-alternative, post-hipster, post-ironic, post-normcore New York and wonder how to carve out space for ourselves, aesthetically speaking, Sevigny—her clothes and her aura and the way she holds herself on camera and the world she used to float around in—might point us towards something authentic. Below, we look to a few of her most iconic moments in the hopes of learning a few lessons from the oft-pronounced “coolest girl in the world.”
Chloë Sevigny by Mark Borthwick for Purple Fashion F/W 1998Chloë Sevigny’s modeling career began accidentally one day when she was playing hooky from her high school in Connecticut. She was hanging around New York—skateboarding and trading mix tapes with her friends—when she was approached by the fashion magazine Sassy. As she evolved as an East side “It Girl” and arthouse actress, she continued modeling, walking for names like Chloé and Miu Miu, and often appearing in editorials in the glam-forever Purple Magazine. In this shoot with Purple in ’98, she’s a vision of Bowie glam meets 90s military fatigue. The skinny belt around her hips (I had the same one from Gap Kids) plus the tie around her waist is the epitome of Sevigny maximalist expressionism gone right: imperfect, ragged, and fearless.
Chloë at East Village Raver Boutique Liquid SkyDuring her early days traipsing around the East Village with the likes of Kim Gordon and Rita Ackermann as her mentors, the white-blonde Sevigny worked at legendary East Village raver boutique Liquid Sky, which was allegedly as much a store as it was a scene. Liquid Sky was a 90s New Wave Rave boutique and performance space: a spot where drugs and experimental ambient music and art shows and raving coalesced. Photos of Sevigny from this moment in her personal history distill some of its legendary energy. The one above was taken in her bedroom one night after she performed with Rita Ackerman.
Looking a snack in Orange FilaSnapped in ’95, Chloë looks like a kid here in this film shot of her in vintage Fila. It’s a hazy photo that captures Sevigny on the cusp of fame, embodying our deepest vintage sportswear desires. There’s water damage on this photo and we’re so nostalgic it hurts.
Miu Miu’s MuseAs she evolved into a fashion icon, versatile actor, and high-profile model, Sevigny became known for looks that embodied an interplay of masc and femme, pretty and anti-pretty. She made her Miu Miu debut in their 1996 ad campaign: her look was all about 60s androgyny, Clockwork Orange-esque many-shades-of-white, and menswear with skin. Here she was photographed by Juergen Teller for Miu Miu’s spring/summer collection in ’96.
At the Oscars: Year 2000She slayed at the millennium Oscars in an iconic AF plunging halter neck neck gown, noir-all over with a black leather belt, chunky silver gothic pendant, and gold bangles (a bold gold + silver play). It’s a look that underscores Sevigny’s knack for periodizing and performing different eras: here she’s Old Hollywood with a whisper of gothic 80s deathrock. This was back when Alber Elbaz was the creative director at the helm of YSL womenswear—Sevigny allegedly still has the illustrations Elbaz sent her hanging in her closet.
Images via The Telegraph, The Cut, Ny DailyNews, chloe-sevigny.org
Stay tuned to Milk for more iconic fashion.