This much I know: Chloe Sevigny

By Helen Barlow

A few words from actress, director and model Chloe Sevigny.
Chloe Sevigny in Cannes, France. Photo / Getty Images
Chloe Sevigny in Cannes, France. Photo / Getty Images

It's so nice to be in Cannes where people really appreciate film and are film lovers. I've been here three times before and now at 41 I'm presenting my first film as a director, Kitty. I feel like I've fulfilled a lifelong dream. It's a story by Paul Bowles that I've been obsessed with and is about a 7-year-old girl who transforms into a cat. I remember being that age and standing in front of the mirror and my ego and vanity creeping in and having this awakening as to who I was. It's also about a mother not recognising her daughter because she's so absorbed with her own life. I worked with five cats. It's really hard playing off a cat and trying to tell this emotional tale. But our cats were great performers and were weirdly expressive.

I was always drawn to women who had a real individual style and a sense of themselves and who weren't afraid to make bold choices, from Patti Smith to Marlene Dietrich. Women who always could really own themselves in whatever they did and in whatever they wore.

There is so much more dialogue happening now with women in power. I hired all female producers for my film.

I've worked with a lot of women directors on my movies and I have a lot of women show-runners on my TV shows. They all complain about how difficult it is and how they feel there's a lot of sexism towards them, so I feel it's important to be around as many women as possible. I really love men, too. I love sleeping with men, I love hanging out with men, but I prefer working with ladies. I feel like the communication is easier and there's more freedom.

With Love & Friendship it was a daunting task to do something adapted from Jane Austen. I've never done a period film like that and having a command of the language was a new thing for me. Luckily Kate Beckinsale is so good at it. I kind of trailed behind her trying to keep up. We made Last Days of Disco together. It's unusual to have the two lead actresses and the director Whit Stillman back together after 17 years, but it's nice to have the familiarity. You don't have to establish relationships with everyone.

I've had a great career in fashion. I've been celebrated and have done ads for many big companies. Though now I've felt a bit of a slowing-down around that, even around being loaned dresses and things like that. It's really unfortunate. I think I was probably the oldest woman to ever appear in a Miu Miu campaign. Usually the models are ingenues. This is who people like looking at. I can't look at fashion magazines any more because the images do my head in. I wish there was a way to change it. I think they should be showing older women all the time and using less airbrushing.

It's nice for celebrities to control their image. In the 90s I lost control of my image while doing these photo shoots and they went everywhere. I feel with Instagram we can have control over it in a way that's empowering. I have an Instagram account and I do this series with actresses showing what I think is important and showing different beauty ideals. All the Kardashians and the supermodels have other standards of beauty that are so impossible to attain. So for me it's important.

Love & Friendship is out on July 7.

- Canvas

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