Chloë Sevigny on Skater Girls, Fashion Week, and the Lawless Nineties
New York’s favorite self-declared “Skate Betty” is back. Beloved actor Chloë Sevigny’s iconic school photo deck with cult skate brand Fucking Awesome sold out in 2014, to the delight of resellers the dismay of skater boys and girls. Nine years later, Sevigny and FA are reissuing the collectible skateboard with an iridescent makeover, plus the brand’s first foray into womenswear, a collection of ruffled and laced vintage-inspired styles for which they couldn’t have chosen a more fitting collaborator. Last week, when Sevigny took five with us during a thunderstorm in P-town, she couldn’t help but admonish today’s sneaker pimps and fondly recall the lawlessness of 90s skate culture.
MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: So what’s the story behind the Fucking Awesome collab?
CHLOË SEVIGNY: Ten years ago, my friend Bill Strobeck, who makes all the videos for Supreme and also owns a skate company called Violet, approached [Jason] Dill and Mike [Piscitelli], both of whom I’ve known for 20 years, and was like, “You guys are doing these amazing school photo boards, you should do one of Chloë. Her senior portrait is incredible.” So they released T-shirts and the deck on a pink background, and I was very enthusiastic about having that bubblegum pink infiltrate this masculine skate world. They became coveted items. And now, 10 years later, Mike was like, “There’s a whole new generation of kids coming up in the skateboarding world who are searching out this board. How about doing a re-release and doing some girls’ items?”
RAJAGOPAL: It might be the most famous yearbook photo ever.
SEVIGNY: The class photo thing became very identifiable for Fucking Awesome. A lot of people project memories and nostalgia onto those pictures because even if it’s not you, everybody has those. Mine just had a shaved head, and these sandalwood beads I made into a choker, and I’m sure my bottom half was baggy Girbaud jeans and Doc Martens. I feel like they always capture you in a weird state. They’re always trying to get you to be more smiley than you necessarily are, especially as a disaffected youth. [Laughs]
RAJAGOPAL: You’ve talked about skate culture being a boys club, so it makes sense that you’re bringing the brand into womenswear too.
SEVIGNY: It feels like time. None of these companies have made any clothes in shapes or fabric weights that regard women’s bodies. The kids are ready. The girls want it, and the boys also want those cuts. I think the boys are open to pink, open to bows.
RAJAGOPAL: They’re open to skirts.
SEVIGNY: To a booty short. I’m super excited.
RAJAGOPAL: And it’s returning to the style that made people fall for Chloë Sevigny.
SEVIGNY: I was also thinking very back to school and of skinhead girls and their kilts and polos and sweater vests. To me, they’re all classics. Even a baby tee is now a classic. Like, the girls wore them in the seventies, but I don’t think we were calling them baby tees. Girls like form fitting.
SEVIGNY: Yes? It’s my three-year-old. He’s over it. I’m excited to get him in a baby tee.
RAJAGOPAL: Oh, so cute. Literally a baby tee.
RAJAGOPAL: What was it like to be a skater girl in the nineties?
SEVIGNY: It was a sense of lawlessness and freedom, especially in New York City. We were hanging out in parks like they did in the movies, drinking 40 ounces and getting into trouble. It felt very communal. It was very easy to meet people. I know now there’s meeting online, but it felt like you would just hang out in places and make new friends. That sense of freedom and lawlessness is what I miss, but I think that’s also just a part of being young, especially if you’re into alternative lifestyles.
RAJAGOPAL: Washington Square is a great place to people-watch too.
SEVIGNY: Oh my god, I love doing that. Especially during the pandemic, me and my husband were hanging out there every day. All the tourists and NYU students left, and just the diehards were hanging on. There was such a good vibe there. Now, of course, the permeating smell of marijuana drives me a little crazy. You can’t escape it in the streets of New York. [Laughs]
RAJAGOPAL: Did you ever skate yourself?
SEVIGNY: I can skate, but I would never have said I was a skater girl. I wasn’t Beatrice Domond. I was more like a Skate Betty, or whatever they say. I liked hanging out with skater boys because I found them stimulating.
RAJAGOPAL: Right. And for the skaters you’re reissuing that yearbook deck, which is now on eBay for insane amounts of money.
SEVIGNY: I’ve heard. I want to make it available for the kids again. And we did a different pink background, so it’s a glittery pink now. The whole sneaker pimp thing, how people covet streetwear and resell it on eBay, that system is so wrong to me. I’m hoping that people that really want to actually use it are able to buy it.
RAJAGOPAL: Instead of just sitting on it.
SEVIGNY: I hope the eBayers don’t swoop in and buy them all.
RAJAGOPAL: People ran through the closet sale earlier this year. Will we ever see you do a label of your own?
SEVIGNY: I don’t think so. It’s too much work. I know the business model because of my collection with Opening Ceremony. And it’s not really my bag, I’m more interested in pursuing film and directing. I’ve been doing collaborations with brands for a while now, from X-Girl to Opening Ceremony to Richardson. So when they’re brands like Fucking Awesome that I love, and I’ve known Dill for 20 years, I’m very game. This is kind of a place where kids can find each other.
RAJAGOPAL: Can we get a sneak peek at your directorial pursuits?
SEVIGNY: Well, I’m directing three short films and I have another one coming out in the fall, for which we might do something with Interview. It’s a 45-minute film of Lypsinka, who was a famous drag persona from the nineties. And then I’m developing a feature film that I can’t really talk about. Because you don’t want anyone to steal your story.
RAJAGOPAL: Never. We’re excited.
SEVIGNY: Thank you.
RAJAGOPAL: Last thing—fashion week’s around the corner.
RAJAGOPAL: What’s your favorite New York Fashion Week memory?
SEVIGNY: Probably when I did my first collection with Opening Ceremony and we did a big party at Webster Hall. We brought The Slits in to play a set during the party and it was a huge deal. I got to choose what we put on the marquee so I put “In the Beginning There Was Rhythm.” It was just the perfect night. It was a magical moment.
RAJAGOPAL: On that note, I’ll let you get back to your travels. Thank you.
SEVIGNY: We’re in Provincetown and there’s a crazy storm coming, so we’re leaving now. Thank you so much. Bye!