Checking into the Hotel Chelsea with Molly Ringwald


“I really don’t like to buy anything new,” declares Molly Ringwald. “As much as I can, I try to buy stuff that’s old, that’s been worn before, or consignment stuff on principle. I just won’t buy a new handbag.” Rather than concern herself with the latest “it” baguette from Miu Miu or stealth-wealth tote from The Row, she’d prefer to spend her money (a whopping $25 of it) on a pre-owned glittering ’60s kaftan. Ringwald has staked her wardrobe and a great deal of her career on an affinity for vintage. (Her personal style informed her iconic character Andie Walsh’s eclectic aesthetic in Pretty in Pink, and little has changed since then.) “I still gravitate towards color, and I still really love vintage. I still scour every thrift store I can when I have the chance,” she says.

An actress by trade and a collector by habit, Ringwald has always preferred a thrift store to a designer boutique. For today’s high-profile events, she plays dress-up with the help of stylist Andrew Gelwicks, borrowing clothes from designers like Helmut Lang and Rodarte. This, she says, “actually works because then it doesn’t take up room in my closet.” But when Ringwald began attending premieres, celebrity stylists weren’t a thing, or at least not at the scale at which they currently operate. For the debut of Pretty in Pink, the then-18-year-old bought a vintage oversized suit on Melrose (partially because she liked it, partially to use as armor for her post-wisdom-tooth-removal swelling). “I kind of miss that [era] because I feel like you got to see what that person really liked.”

In doing so, she wore what she loved rather than what someone picked for her. “Generally, I’ve been more comfortable with costume designers because it’s easier for me to build a character with someone,” she muses. This notion she fuses with event-dressing. “It always feels weird to have anybody decide who I am in my clothes… I almost look at it like I’m playing a character for a night.” On her days off, she’s most comfortable in a pair of vintage red linen pants and a striped sweater. It calls to attention an insult (one that didn’t age well) hurled at her character Walsh in Pretty in Pink: “Where’d you get your clothes, five-and-dime store?” Though a “yes” only recently became the popular answer, Ringwald would never have had an issue with that idea (even if her clothes cost a bit more than a dollar today).

Fresh from her role as Joanne Carson on Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans, Ringwald spent the day with Coveteur at The Hotel Chelsea clad in a mix of this season’s finest and gems pulled from her personal closet. Read on for our conversation about some of the actress’s favorite things: old clothing, retro imagery, and her business partner (her dog, Millie).

Coveteur: Was this your first time at the Hotel Chelsea?

Molly Ringwald: “No, I’ve been there a bunch of times. I’ve actually shot there for Interview years ago, but I think it was my first time in a room since it’s been redone.”

Do you have any fun old memories from there?

MR: “I never lived there or anything. I feel like I’ve just been there so many times, but I don’t think I have anything like my friend Alex Auder, who actually grew up there.”

How often are you traveling and staying in hotels?

MR: “It really depends, but it comes in waves. I tend to travel a lot for work. And then I go to Greece every summer because I’m married to a Greek American and we have family there. And then I go to France whenever I can. Oh, I went to San Miguel in Mexico recently, which was really incredible. I have a big family. I have three kids, and the younger ones are going to be 15 in July, so my husband and I can actually think about traveling for fun now. Once you get beyond one kid, you’re sort of a brood. It’s not as easy. One kid is a little overnight bag, and then all of a sudden, you have a lot of luggage.”

Why France, or any of the places that you love the most? What is it about them that you love?

MR: “I just have a very long-standing love relationship; love-hate maybe—I wouldn’t say hate, mostly just love. I’ve kind of always had a thing for France from the time that I was really young. I went to a French school, and then I moved there and lived there for a while in my twenties. Married a French guy, divorced a French guy. I’ve translated books from French. It’s a really beautiful country, and I love its history. I don’t know if you ever really know why you feel a connection to a place, but I’ve always had that connection to France.”

You’ve translated and written books. I’m assuming you’re an avid reader. What are you reading now?

MR: “Well, I’m writing right now, and I tend to read a little bit less when I’m writing. I’m reading a book called Up in the Old Hotel. It’s a compilation of stories by Joseph Mitchell, who wrote about New York. I just read a friend’s manuscript he asked me to read. I dip in and out of books, but mostly I try to concentrate on writing my own.”

Are you fascinated by the history of New York, or is this just a one-off?

MR: “No, I love reading about old history. I love old history. I love old photographs. When I’m in vintage stores, I like to go to the box of old family photos that have been abandoned. I’m always on websites looking at old pictures and old letters. I’ve always been into that.”

Do you have any particular favorite images?

MR: “Usually, if there’s an image I love, I post it on my Instagram.”

One of my favorite questions to ask is when you were first figuring out your sense of style—and, obviously, you had to do this in the public eye—what were your biggest influences, whether it was an icon or some images or a movie?

MR: “I really was influenced by Diane Keaton. I really liked her a lot in those early Woody Allen movies. And I loved her in the movie that she did with Warren Beatty, the four-hour-long movie about the Russian Revolution, Reds. I just loved her and her style and her sensibility. And then I was really into books about the twenties in France, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then books about the Murphys.

So, whenever I was in vintage clothing stores—when I was young, thrifting didn’t seem like it was such a big deal like it is now—so you could still find really amazing twenties chic dresses for absolutely nothing. And I was a beanpole, so those dresses were really perfect for me. I was really attracted to anything I could find from the twenties. And then I was really influenced by other eras. My version of the eighties was really my interpretation of eighties-doing-twenties and certain things from other eras.”

I know, I’m always fascinated by the sixties doing the thirties or something like that.

MR: “The seventies was big, and the seventies did the twenties, which I loved.”

I think I read somewhere that you really gravitated towards boxier, androgynous silhouettes, which might not have been the hottest thing as a teen star.

MR: “Well, it just made more sense to me. Maybe it was a little bit of self-protection, but it was also just what I was interested in. And the silhouettes didn’t seem like the eighties. It’s so funny whenever you see something now that takes place in the eighties, you realize that everybody wasn’t dressing the same. There were a lot of different styles in the eighties. Just like now, there are vastly different styles. I don’t even know how anyone would be able to sum up an era.”

When you were first figuring out your style through such a public lens, were you thinking a lot about every appearance and how you wanted to craft this outward expression, or were you just wearing what you loved?

MR: “No, I think I was just wearing what I loved. When I was coming up, the whole red carpet thing was completely different. People bought their own clothes; people picked out their own stuff. There weren’t really stylists—at least, I never worked with a stylist. So, once in a while, my friend Colleen Atwood, who’s a costume designer, would help me out. But for the most part, it was just whatever I liked or wanted to wear. That was it. I wasn’t really thinking so much in terms of posterity. Now, you’re not really looking at the artist; you’re looking at the artists’ stylists—the artists’ stylists who really had the style more than the person.”

You weren’t crafting a narrative in tandem with whatever film you were releasing.

MR: “No, I wasn’t really thinking that much about it. One of the biggest premieres of my career was Pretty in Pink, and I had had my wisdom teeth pulled three weeks before. I still looked like a chipmunk, so I didn’t even pose on the red carpet. I wore this really baggy suit that I bought on Melrose. It was definitely a different time.”

Different world. Do you think your style has evolved a lot in the past decades?

MR: “No, I feel like I’m kind of the same. I still gravitate towards color and I still really love vintage. I go through periods of time where I’m more into one thing than another, but I feel like I’m basically the same person. Maybe a little bit more high-end, but not really. I still scour every thrift store I can when I have the chance.”

You have always shopped at vintage stores. That sort of thing was such a big theme in Pretty in Pink. In those movies and even through the 2000s, it was such an insult if someone thought your clothes were from a thrift store. Has it been funny for you to watch that evolution of perception around secondhand clothing?

MR: “Yes, it’s funny. When I was doing it, I felt like hardly anybody was doing it. But I’m sure people were doing it before I was doing it, and I just feel like I invented it—just like when my kids do it, and they think they’re inventing it. But you really have to be patient. I remember I was in a vintage clothing store with an actor friend in Salt Lake City. She didn’t want to go because she said vintage clothing stores upset her. She hated to be around dirty, dusty things. She said that it reminded her of when she was younger and she had to shop there, which was definitely not my situation. So I feel like people have different relationships with vintage clothes, but the dirtiness and the dustiness, that never bothered me.”

1,000 percent. What are your favorite thrift or vintage stores?

MR: “Now, I get a lot of vintage stuff online. When I started with vintage clothes, it was all in real life. But I still really like to go myself. I think my favorite would be the flea markets in France. That’s where I find the stuff that I like the most. But I’m actually thinking about doing a sort of capsule vintage store because I have so much stuff now, and I’m trying to tear down and clean out my closet.”

That’s so fun. What are your online haunts?

MR: “There’s a place that I really like called Devore Vintage. There’s a store in New York and Arizona called Desert Vintage. And Etsy. I go to Etsy and look up one specific thing like ‘glitter cape’ or something and scroll through every glitter cape I can find. But it really does feel like it’s not as satisfying as when you went and found it in person. Once, Parker Posey and I went vintage shopping, and I found this dress for $25. It’s this really fancy dress that you could have imagined was worn in the early sixties. It’s really fun when you find a little trophy like that.”

That’s amazing. You also brought the ballet slippers. Tell me about those.

MR: “Those aren’t vintage, actually. Those are from a store called Repetto. They make ballet shoes. I saw them last summer when I was traveling, and I just fell in love with the color. But then I was like, ‘Oh, these are so impractical,’ because there’s no sole on them, really. I just couldn’t get them out of my mind, so finally I went and I got them. And I love them.”

Well, you were a dancer, correct?

MR: “I was a dancer when I was young, and then I gave up ballet in my teens.”

Ballet is so beautiful. Do you miss that aspect?

MR: “Yes. I love the ballet aesthetic. I love those colors. It’s like the collection that Rodarte did with all of the ballet influences. I’m obsessed with that.”

That’s so fun. I heard that you love The Red Shoes, too.

MR: “Oh my God, if I could live in that movie. I love those sort of faded technicolors.”

When I watch movies, aesthetics are so paramount to me. When you watch films, what draws you in the most?

MR: “Part of me is drawn in by the story and the characters, but a big part is the photography and the wardrobe and the color palette. Last night, my husband and I watched Rouge. It’s like a Chinese ghost story. Part of it takes place in the thirties, and part of it is modern day, but it was shot in ’87 or something. All of the scenes in the 1930s were so beautiful—the actresses, the costumes, the hair, everything. I get very drawn in by that. I love all of Jean-Luc Gordard’s movies because of his aesthetic. There are certain movies that I watch over and over again because of the aesthetic—it’s like my comfort viewing.”

What are your comfort movies?

MR: “Well, Godard’s movies, definitely. Eric Rohmer’s movies. I would say anything in the French New Wave. Anything that was on that famous Agnes B. poster. Funny Face. Early Hollywood or fifties Hollywood Technicolor movies are definitely comfort-viewing. My mom was really into Hollywood musicals, so anytime they were on television, she would always get us to watch them.”

Obviously, your costumes help inform your character, but do your characters ever leak into how you dress?

MR: “Oh, that’s a good question. When I was playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret, I felt like that aesthetic leaked into my personal life. I felt like I was living in that world all the time. Other than that, it really depends on the character that I’m playing. With Breakfast Club, I had to wear that outfit every day for three months while we were filming. I never wanted to see it again. I was so sick of it. So it really depends on the part, too.”

Any Joanne Carson caftans showing up in your wardrobe now?

MR: “I don’t think so, although I love that caftan. But I am more drawn to the clothes in New York in the sixties or the early seventies. Or even further back, like the forties and fifties.”

I also saw that you brought your dog to the Chelsea Hotel with you.

MR: “She’s just sitting at the foot of the bed right now. I got Millie when I was doing Riverdale in Vancouver. I was away from my family so much, and I wanted to have a dog that kept me company. And now she loves to go everywhere. The second I put my shoes on, she’s like, ‘Okay, yeah, where are we going?’”

Does she travel with you?

MR: “Yes, she pretty much goes everywhere.”

When you travel, what makes it into the suitcase? Are you a very regimented, capsule-wardrobe kind of gal, or are you more like, ‘Let’s embrace the feeling of this trip while I’m on it?’

MR: “I just bring whatever. I try to bring stuff for whatever the weather’s going to be, whatever I’m into at the moment, whatever’s clean. And then I always pack with an empty tote bag because I know that I’m going to find stuff.”

Are you a big shopper?

MR: “I am. It’s something that I’m trying to scale back on a little bit. I love my stuff, I have great stuff, but I feel like nobody should have too much stuff.”

I feel like the red carpet is almost like the opposite. How do you feel about the glam high-designer worlds you occasionally step into?

MR: “Usually, when I do a red carpet now, I wear a dress that’s been lent to me by a designer, which actually works because it doesn’t take up room in my closet. I wear it, and then I give it back. It’s kind of great.”

Who are your favorite designers to wear?

MR: “I love Ulla Johnson. I love Rachel Comey. I love a designer named Jane Mayle. That’s a little bit more casual, not glam red carpet. Zac Posen’s a friend, so I like wearing vintage Zac.”

Well, I have to ask because in the shoot, we have the Repetto flats, and then we have some killer heels: what do you gravitate toward more in your every day? Heels or flats?

MR: “For everyday, I’m more of a flats person or a small heel. I wear a lot of Rachel Comey clogs and No.6. I also have some nice loafers. I have some APC sandals. But if I’m going out, I always wear heels because I like the way that I stand better in heels.”

At this point, you’ve worn a million things; you’ve gotten to try on so many characters for size. What are you most comfortable in when you get dressed these days?

MR: “Gosh, I don’t know. I really think that it depends. I go through phases. Right now, I’m really into these old linen, red—like tomato-red—trousers. And as soon as it starts to get a little bit sunny, I bring out all my striped sweaters again. So I like wearing that with this cute Jane Mayle belt. That’s one uniform. I have a Rachel Comey blazer that I wear with a pair of her pants. Oh, and I have this tan Sezane suit—it’s very seventies—and I wear it with a little ribbed turtleneck. I tend to wear that when it’s cold.”

In terms of visuals, what are your favorite things to consume, whether it’s Instagram or Pinterest or a museum or films?

MR: “I definitely spend way too much time scrolling through images online like everyone else, but I’m also a big consumer of coffee-table books. I have a million big books, but I actually really love to have them. I have them pretty much on every surface, and I like to thumb through them all the time.

Any favorites?

MR: “Now I’m going to have to go downstairs to look. I have this one book that I got in France. It’s an artist named Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux, Stop Making Sense. He did these random collages every day for one year. The book is all of the collages that he did. Oh, I have this book, Cafe Society: Socialites, Patrons and Artists, that I looked at a lot when I was doing The Swans. I have The Style of Movement, which is a book that somebody did with dancers and famous designers. Actually, I think I got this for my daughter when she was doing ballet, but it’s a really beautiful book.”

That’s amazing. I’ll ask you one silly question to end. We have this great photo of you in the Hotel Chelsea robes. When you’re in a hotel, are you going to suit up in the robe and have the full experience, or is that not your style?

MR: “Oh no, I will definitely go for the robe if it’s a good robe. And I think the Chelsea Hotel was a good robe.”

Editor-in-Chief (at Large): Jenna Lyons/ Fashion Editor (at Large): Sarah Clary/ Art Director: Smiley Stevens/ Managing Editor: Hilary George-Parkin/ Casting Director: Yasmin Coutinho/ Executive Producer: Marc Duron

Want more stories like this?

Rich Eccentric by Day, Vigilante by Night

What to Wear to Coachella, Based on Your Favorite Lana Album

The Power of an Heirloom


Source link

Scroll to Top