alexa BlackBook: Designs on Acting: ‘Hard Sun’ Star Agyness Deyn Talks Drama with Writer-Director Alex Ross Perry

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IF you found the bleak dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale terrifying, you’d better buckle up for Hard Sun. The sensational Hulu/BBC drama concerns a pair of British detectives who discover that the apocalypse is coming in five years — and that the government wants them dead for finding out.

Aside from providing cryptic conspiratorial thrills, the show boasts a riveting performance from lead Agyness Deyn as the intense Elaine Renko. The emotionally wounded deputy inspector is trying to save the world, resolve family trauma, and process a growing suspicion that her partner (Jim Sturgess) is corrupt.

A former model raised in Manchester, England, Deyn, 35, has proved to be a formidable actress with an excellent taste in film and television projects. The New Yorker named her one of the best actresses of 2016 for Sunset Song, the story of a young woman persevering through a brutal rural existence in World War I-era Scotland. It’s a long way from shooting ads for Dior, Burberry, Uniqlo and Vivienne Westwood and hanging out with creative collective the Misshapes (she’s been based in NYC since the early ’00s). Next, Deyn will co-star alongside “Handmaid’s Tale” actress Elisabeth Moss in “Her Smell,” an indie film about feuding female punk rockers by writer-director Alex Ross Perry.

Perry has made a name for himself as a sensitive and curious teller of women’s stories, via a quick succession of acclaimed, fantastically cast micro-indies: 2014’s nervous-novelist tale “Listen Up Philip” (with Moss and Jason Schwartzman), 2015’s deep dive into female friendship, “Queen of Earth” (Moss again), and 2017’s “Golden Exits” (with Chloë Sevigny, Schwartzman and former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz).

Deyn and Perry convened a meeting of their mutual admiration society on an April Saturday in New York.

 

Khaite sweater, $1,150 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave.; Pants, $690 at BodeNewYork.com; Earrings, $496 at SimonMillerUSA.com

Alex Ross Perry: Do you remember how we met?

Agyness Deyn: We met at — what’s that place called on St. Marks? It was Cafe Orlin! Wow, this might have been, like, four years ago. We ended up sitting down for about two hours chatting — drinking loads of tea. I thought it was just so fun. I remember when you spilled the tea — about the project you were working on, about stuff we were both working on, about life. The two hours went by and we were like, “S – – t, we’ve been sitting here for a long time.”

ARP: I remember feeling exceptionally encouraged and excited by it. The meeting was for a big movie that I was trying to make that never got made. But because I ended up having a lot of meetings, now I’ve essentially been able to cast anything I’ve made since then with people I [originally] wanted to put in that movie. The following spring, I saw Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song” and was completely blown away by your performance. What path did that character set you on?

AD: I think about Terence [Davies] regularly, probably weekly. I finished that film and thought, “Oh, I suppose that I am an actor now.” I said that to Terence, and he said, “Well, of course, you are.” I remember thinking someone believed in me a million times more than I believed in myself as an actor and as a woman. He gave me a huge responsibility to carry a film he’s been trying to make for 15 years. Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman. His projection of what a woman is helped me embody what I had in myself.

 

Shirt, $435 at BodeNewYork.com; Pants, $400 at SimonMillerUSA.com

ARP: How did that change the bar you’ve now set for yourself?

AD: I knew that I wanted to play strong women with a point of view who have something to say. “Sunset Song” and “Hard Sun” are so different, but it was kind of a continuation. Elaine [in “Hard Sun”] is this damaged but strong and enigmatic woman who seems kind of genderless and walks to the beat of her own drum. I have a very English way of being apologetic. I didn’t have that kind of “F you” attitude, and [the director] drilled that out of me very quickly. It was fast-paced, the story matter was intense. It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her.

ARP: I don’t know how long the shoot for “Sunset Song” was, but with [“Hard Sun”], suddenly you’re a sprinter who has to run a marathon without training for it. 

AD: Definitely. It was such a shock. I remember saying to Jim [co-star Sturgess] after we’d done the first two episodes, “We’ve got to do this again, haven’t we?” And he was like, “Yeah.” Like a marathon, you’re not sure how you’re going to save your energy and your feelings because you don’t know how much you’ll need at the end.

ARP: Now, you can’t just say yes to some TV show that won’t be satisfying.

AD: Exactly. I have the same sensation about the movie [“Her Smell”] you and I are doing together.

 

“Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman … It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her. ”

 

ARP: We’re not asking you to come in and be this mysterious, elfin, British model-type woman. There’s music lessons involved, there’s a certain theatricality involved. We’re setting up a series of extreme challenges. 

AD: I can’t wait. It’s funny because I know I’m so excited and so terrified before a job when I start dreaming about it. I woke up this morning after having a nightmare about actually being in the band: “Oh my God, oh s–t. I don’t know the song.”

ARP: The sort of all-encompassing logistical panic of this movie is something I’ve never really experienced. 

 

Rosie Assoulin overalls, $1,695 at ModaOperandi.com; Sweater, $325 at SimonMillerUSA.com 

AD: Where did you get the idea of making this film?

ARP: I wondered, what could I be doing that no one else would be doing right now? A lot of people can make something inspired by an era 50 years removed. Maybe I do a music movie about a disreputable genre no one’s really romanticizing in the same way yet. But it’s so much more about [the] identity of all these women in this movie — motherhood and sisterhood within these bands, and addictions and addictions to people. 

AD: I always say ’79 was such a great year for music in England, with the Clash and all these brilliant bands. It was amazing to be a young person and introduced to them by different friends. It shapes you as a person. So, it’s a fun way to explore it all again and also hear everyone else’s stories.

ARP: I’ve jokingly said this is a role you’ve been preparing to inhabit for your entire life, via modeling or acting. Maybe “mysterious, ethereal rock goddess” was a career path that may [have] eluded you, but now you get to use your lifetime’s worth of knowledge to be in this character.

AD: I remember seeing images early on of the Slits and the Raincoats — these young women just doing what they wanted. It was just so exhilarating to think like, “Oh, I can be that.”

 

 

ABOUT THE SPACE

We photographed Agyness Deyn at a lower-Manhattan pied-à-terre tucked inside the 1879-built Robbins & Appleton Building, with interiors designed by Mark Zeff. Commissioned by a Miami-based couple, the Bond Street residence showcases the duo’s diverse collection of special artworks by renowned creators such as Andy Warhol. The designer was charged with maintaining the raw loft’s distinct character while also creating intimacy for the couple and their teen children. Using ribbed glass and blackened steel, Zeff partitioned the 4,500 sqaure-foot space into wonderfully dramatic tableaus, including a glass-box study and an airy kitchen designed for entertaining.

 

 

On the cover: Blazer, $1,695, and pants, $1,295, both at RosieAssoulin.com; “Elsa” earrings, $740 at AgmesNYC.com

Photos by Martien Mulder; Styling by Danielle Nachimani, Hair by Seiji using Oribe Hair Care for The Wall Group; Beauty by Gianpaolo Ceciliato using Chanel Plaette Essentielle for Tracey Mattingly Agency; Bond Street Photo by Eric Laignel

 

alexa BlackBook: California Girl: Drew Barrymore — Who’s Starring on Netflix’s ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ and in a New Campaign for Crocs — Shares Her Sunny Design Finds

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For the latest issue of alexa BlackBook, actress and star of the hit Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet Drew Barrymore rounded up her go-to picks for stylishly gearing up for spring.

 

“Admittedly, I’m a hat lady. This sun hat provides true UV protection while still looking super stylish.”


Beach hat with UPF 50+, $49.50 at Coolibar.com

 

“Yellow is the new pink! I love this sweatshirt because it is easy to wear but still whimsical and happy.”


Sweatshirt, $125 at ClareV.com

 

“I love to change up my shoe look by adding an ankle sock. These socks are a perfect mixture of silly and chic.”


“Liza” sparkle ankle socks, $18 at HappySocks.com

 

“Nothing beats a day at the pool with the kids. This is the perfect accessory to liven things up.”

 

 

Fred Segal x CB2 “Love One Another” pool float, $80 at CB2.com

 

“When in doubt, put a rainbow on it! That was my thought when designing an everyday tote that I didn’t want to be a typical everyday basic.”


Dear Drew by Drew Barrymore “Rainbow” vegan-leather tote, $95 at Amazon.com

 

“I own these in several colors. I love them because you can change out your color with your current mood. Current mood: Tangerine Dream.”


SunglassLA rimless sunglasses, $13 at Walmart.com

 

“These are my current go-to jeans. They combine comfort and style with a megadose of ’90s nostalgia.”

 


Levi’s “Wedgie” high-rise jeans, $98 at UrbanOutfitters.com

 

“Wearing Crocs’ iconic ‘Classic Clog’ is about more than making a comfort statement. It’s about being comfortable in all that you do and not being afraid to poke holes — no pun intended — in conversation.”


“Classic Clog” shoes in “Tropical Teal,” $38 at Crocs.com

 

“My go-to carry-on for 
last-minute weekend getaways. Not only is it functional, it’s also fun to look at.”

 


Dear Drew by Drew Barrymore “Take Me 
With You” carry-on suitcase, $125 at Amazon.com

 

“Move over dresses, it’s time to suit up for spring. Lately, all I want to wear is a suit. I love this one because it takes a typical fall silhouette and lightens it up for spring.”

 


Double-breasted blazer, $119, at Zara.com

 

“I love statement earrings because they can transform your look in seconds and make an LBD way more interesting.”

 

Bianca Mavrick “Otis” drop earrings, $108 at Anthropologie.com

 

Photos Courtesy of the Designers.

 

alexa BlackBook: IKEA Fever

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IKEA has long been a staple for both bargain hunters and streamline-design lovers. Now, fashion kings like Virgil Abloh (just named Louis Vuitton’s new menswear designer) are repurposing the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow logo on inventive streetwear. 
 In honor of the Swedish fever, we asked three creatives for their takes on Ikea’s iconic “Frakta” bag.

 

Brooklyn garden whiz Brook Klausing recycled his “Frakta” bag as a pretty planter.

 

Brook Klausing, a garden designer and owner of Brooklyn’s Brook Landscape, elected to use his “Frakta” bag as a flower planter, putting his own spin on eco-upscaling. “We drew inspiration from fast fashion and fast furniture to create our own version: fast foliage,” he tells Alexa.

 

LA artist Neil Raitt adorned the trusty tote with his own palm print.

 

Los Angeles-based artist Neil Raitt (who points to Bob Ross’ kitschy 1980s TV program “The Joy of Painting” as an inspiration for his repetitive landscapes — on exhibit at LA’s Anat Ebgi gallery and this year’s NYC Armory Show) also took a crack at the big blue bag. He inlaid a palm-tree print, which he originally created in 2016 for an exhibition at Mon Chéri gallery in Brussels, to create a portable piece of art.

“When you look at an Ikea bag, with its blue plastic and yellow lettering, it’s immediately recognizable,” he says. “So, I wanted to bring in something equally accessible, like a palm tree.”

 

Interior designer Ryan Korban stitched a kitschy pillow — complete with Ikea trim.

 

And finally, New York-based interior designer Ryan Korban (who’s created eye-catching spaces for all manner of high-end fashion labels, including Alexander Wang’s NYC flagship and Balenciaga stores across the globe) dreamed up a DIY Ikea throw pillow. It’s the perfect spot to rest your head after putting together all that furniture.

 

Photos by Lizzy Snaps Sullivan; Tamara Beckwith; Courtesy of Neil Raitt and Anat Ebgi.

 

The Chrysler Bidding

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The NY Post is reporting that The Abu Dhabi investment group is negotiating to buy a 75% stake in Manhattan’s famed Chrysler Building, causing us some rather hectic last-minute Father’s Day shopping. We thought we had the building wrapped and ready for Sunday’s big day, but then these rich oil barons came out of nowhere—sheiks, princes, kings, it was terrifying—and kerplunked an $800 million dollar offer on the table. We’ve got money, but we don’t have oil money. Our poor Deco-loving dad, who we promised a real sexy gift this year, will have to settle for aftershave, yet again.