Hari Nef is not your average campaign star. The 27-year-old actress, model and writer gradually rose to fame via the Gucci catwalks,Transparent waves, and an ambitious Instagram grid that seamlessly pairs high-end references with unfiltered selfies so personal that they virtually put you in its inner circle. So despite dropping the word “parish” in ELLE.com’s conversation with Nef, she firmly retains a lack of pretension that reminds us why she has come so far. Nef is, quite, Great sympathetic. Using the word cool seems to be a disservice.
The Vampire’s Wife, a fashion label known for its creepy-bent Victorian dresses, strikes the same balance. Designed by Susie Cave (wife of this Nick), the label has amassed a celebrity cult to make Halloween dressing a modern affair all year round. The brand lends its vintage touch to H&M for a collaboration that falls today, making Nef one of its shining faces. The alignment couldn’t be more perfect.
We spoke to the star about her early thoughts on the seventeen-piece collection, how her style has remained unchanged during the pandemic, and her strained relationship with the term ‘self-care’ in 2020. Read on to find out more on the Triple Threat, and check out our favorite styles from the H&M x The Vampire’s Wife collaboration, below.
What is your relationship with the vampire’s wife and Susie?
Susie has been someone I have admired from afar for a while. I’ve always had a girl or friend crush on this cool dark haired girl in these amazing bodycon dresses. Obviously, I also know her husband’s work. It was this cool woman who made cool clothes and I shyly admired from afar. I was so excited when this happened.
Susie’s designs are always a bit gothic. So speaking of vampires, can you give us a little insight into what your Halloween costume could be like?
You know what? I will tell you what my costume is because it is relevant. I’m going to dress up as Maggie Chung’s character in Olivier Assayas’ film Irma Vep where she is in costume. It’s a movie within a movie. They are making a movie where she does a remake of a 1920s vampire movie. I hope my costume arrives in time, I’m not sure it will. I might end up going to a fetish store. I just moved to the West Village and there are a lot of really fun sex shops here. If not, I’ll just take the opportunity to explore my local sex shop.
What did you think when you saw the collection for the first time?
I thought, “Is that allowed? It’s so luxurious and glamorous! How did they do that at an H&M price? Oh, well, if they do it at an H&M price, how could it be? sustainable? ” And then I learned more about the collection and these prices are accessible to anyone looking to make a small investment in a statement piece. Much of the fabrications are made from sustainably sourced materials including recycled nylon and recycled polyester, so I was pretty much good to go.
I would wear a lot of these pieces just about anywhere. This is my test when I buy a garment. I have two questions: can I wear this to the grocery store and could I wear this to a wedding? All the dresses correspond to this denomination, but maybe not the full length dress. I’m not sure if I wear this to the grocery store just because I’m not sure if the grocery store is ready for that kind of gothic glamor, but I would definitely wear it to a wedding or a shoot.
Have you been to a session?
If I told you I would be betraying a deep and dark secret and I think that’s what The Vampire’s Wife is, the unknown and the secrets.
Could you explain a little more how you approach your style?
I think if you are going to buy a garment and spend your hard earned money creating more demand for more things in the world what we need to do less you really have to know that you are getting some mileage by buying [it]. It won’t just be something in your closet that you wear once or twice a year.
On a totally abstract level of taste and what inspires me and what my preferences are, I always look at history and the past. I’m still looking for road groupies in the sixties and seventies. I still look at the Pre-Raphaelite paintings. I always watch some kind of Hot Topic from the 90s, early 2000s, Marilyn Manson’s idea of goth or the occult.
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Did your style change during your 40s?
Not at all. If anything, I doubled down. I will be planning an outfit for later, maybe a year later, maybe once or twice a week that I will venture into a safe remote social situation. I just returned to New York from Los Angeles where no one dresses for nothing. I’m obsessed with getting dressed right now. And I take every opportunity I can to do so, even if it’s just for a mirror selfie in the privacy of my own home at one in the morning.
So no sweatpants?
I’ve never been so exploited in clothing as a source of personal joy, but not for how you can look for other people, not a man, not in a social setting. Literally – never dressed again because there is no one else to dress for right now and it feels good.
It touches on Susie’s themes for this collaboration: vulnerability, intimacy, the unknown and femininity. With everything that has happened this year between social unrest, the pandemic, the elections and being stuck at home, what does being vulnerable mean to you in 2020?
Being vulnerable to me means engaging in difficult conversations with people who are close to you, people you love, people with whom you thought you shared a unanimous point of view, who actually differ on this issue. or this question. Or maybe there is a fundamental difference in values between you that is being uncovered by the difficult conversations going on right now about public health, racial justice, gender and sex politics, about queerness. It’s all surfacing and people are alert.
I’m not so much interested in having a conversation about these issues with someone on the internet that I don’t know. I’m not that interested in baseless fighting on the Internet. I think what’s important is to bring it back to a feeling of intimate relationships and a feeling of intimate responsibility. To relate this to clothing or clothing is a tenuous connection at best. These are lofty things. But when I’m dressed in a way where I feel beautiful, where I feel shielded, then I feel better equipped to engage in all kinds of discussions. I feel like anything I can do to bring about the so-called revolution from a place of strength, comfort, trust, and generosity is going to serve me and my community well.
How do you reconcile the positive aspects of life, like this campaign, with the negativity of 2020?
You won’t get anything for anyone if you constantly throw yourself into the fray. You won’t get anything for everyone if you torture yourself for a thought or belief that you may have nurtured that is now parochial or disillusioned by the emerging discourses. Whether it’s a belief about race, gender or sexuality. You won’t get anywhere just by frantically reposting for every cause you find, every infographic. If you are constantly caught in a state of alert, penance, and worry, you will not get anything because it does not allow you to think. This does not allow you to demonstrate. It doesn’t allow you to protest if you need to, or even fight if you need to.
I struggle with the term self-care because I feel like there is a slippery slope between self-care and self-indulgence. But I think this balance is essential. We live in a time of extremes. Bad against good, good against bad, wrong against good. There has to be a gray area, whether it’s thinking ambiguously, seeing both sides of an argument, or mixing difficult things with those that make us happy and comfortable. I’m not someone who can say where some sort of collective “we” want to go. I can only speak from my experience, but my initiative is preparation and if I don’t do well on my own, I won’t be ready.
How have you tried to personally find joy in your life, especially in quarantine at home?
I don’t have a shocking, thrilling, or glamorous answer to that. I think I’ve turned to a lot of things other people have said, which is cooking for myself and writing, and really deepening and strengthening my relationships with people in my group. Getting out as often as possible, wearing a mask every time, working on my fitness from home has been huge. I got back into shape in quarantine. I decorated my apartment.
Everything I was procrastinating, again, I kind of think of that sentence, it all comes to the surface. When things come to the surface, you take care of them.
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