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A few days before my interview with actress Ella Hunt, I get a glimpse of all the looks she and her stylist Sarah Slutsky put together for the album Dickinson Season two press tour. In an ingenious move, the two of them documented their NYC fit, because when you have a rack full of breathtaking designs from Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Versace, a moment of zoom at the waist just isn't enough. Before I jump on our call, I wonder which of the 10 curated looks I'll see on Hunt. "It's the Louis Vuitton!" she tells me enthusiastically and steps back from the camera to show the details of her zipped ensemble.
Now that virtual press days are the new norm and there are few in-person appearances left, celebrities and their stylists are finding creative ways to make a fashion statement, and we benefit from glorious Instagram photo shoots and rare backgrounds. Access to the scenes. Ring in the new year and season of the AppleTV + series Dickinson, Hunt and Slutsky served a fashionable platter of sultry androgynous (think sleek, bespoke separates with flashes of skin and thigh-high patent leather boots) to complement Hunt's new pixie haircut and reflect their affinity for the grunge era. The word "empowered" is a common one when Hunt describes her recent approach to fashion, and it's apt. Your confidence practically shines through the computer screen.
Fashion aside, it's an exciting time for the British actress. Dickinson is a hit. The show was lit green for a third season before premiering a second, and her performance as Susan "Sue" Huntington Gilbert has raved critics. But perhaps in even bigger news, Hunt revealed that she was preparing to release music this year. Although we've seen Hunt's talented singers on screens big and small (watch out for a special scene in Episode 6), she promises her personal work will be very different. Color inspires us.
In front of me, I chat with Hunt about expanding her art, season two of Dickinson and Sue's stylish transformation and the pair of boots that her favorite Dr. Give Martens a run for their money.
We're seeing a new Sue this season, at least on the surface. How do you see your development from the first to the second season?
It's been about a year and a half [between seasons]and in that time she has gone from being a destitute orphan to a well-deserved married Amherst woman. And so suddenly she doesn't have to be as pragmatic as before and during this time she went through another trauma. She completely reinvents herself as this glamorous hostess. The fun of this show is that it is historically correct for Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. She became this extraordinary host, but we can imagine how that might have come about and look at social media and fame through the lens of the 1850s. For Sue, the notoriety and these parties and this new person who created her are an escape from her inner emotional reality. I think it's very reliable to this day. There are many people out there who can find a way out of all kinds of horrific and challenging environments by creating these social media platforms and these other selves that only exist on social media, just as Sue set out to do To exist only on social media Sphere of Amherst.
Sue has a brand new home this season, The Evergreens, and a gorgeous new wardrobe to go with it. What was your first reaction to seeing this new page for Sue?
The team did an amazing job. It's also incredibly accurate as the house actually was. As a cast, we went to The Homestead and The Evergreens, which are really just a stone's throw away [each other]. In fact, that makes me think that at some point in my first outfits for the show, I'll have to do an Instagram post about my facial expression. I'm just like that all the time [drops her jaw].
What is so much fun playing this role and working on this show is that not only can we wear these incredible clothes, incredible and uncomfortable clothes, [but we also] Watch the costume team make them. This year our costume store was in our set building so I could go downstairs and see our tailor cut the latest vest for Sue. Every time I came to an adjustment I could watch them work out the original idea and sometimes work together. Jen Moeller, our costume designer, was just wonderful to look at. One so empowered woman asked me, “What do you think this should be? Which substances appeal to your soul? What should she be wearing right now? “And then I watch her take the little bundle of ideas wherever I'm going:" Maybe that. " She takes and builds this world of a dress that I can then wear.
Sue has so many great fashion moments this season. Is there one that you particularly notice?
So there was a dress that didn't end in season. It's a dress that goes on in an Emily fantasy so it might come back next season. We called it the watermelon dress. It looks like you threw a watermelon on the floor and it just splattered – all the colors of the watermelon were in this dress. It was amazing. From what we see this season, I have a gold corset that I wear at such a beautiful point and the outfit that I wear for our intellectual party that happens in episode five with the little glasses and the vest. I felt pretty great in it.
The push and pull of Sue and Emily's friendship is even more complicated this season. I want to talk about the friendship and chemistry on screen between you and Hailee Steinfeld.
This season in particular, it was so nice to return to these characters that Hailee and I returned to our friendship as well. We've been able to build on what we started in season one, trust each other more, and deepen our journeys with the Emily and Sue relationship. We did a lot of work right before filming and the first episode because this season is about Emily and Sue breaking up and whether or not they can get back together and Sue pushing Emily away. We've talked a lot about how we deserve their trip as a couple, how we can take the audience for this ride, and make the audience understand why Sue acts the way she does, and why Emily feels the way she feels when we go to [end of the] In season it is as climatic as we all dream of it. I'm so proud to play Sue in front of Hailee's Emily.
The sixth episode (“Split the Lark”) is special because we see you sing. Was that always written in the script for Sue, or did you and Alena Smith talk about recording it later?
Alena knows that I am a musician. When we started filming season two, that very special moment was written in the script, but Alena wasn't sure who Emily would see or what voice she would hear when she entered this fantasy world. I don't know why, but I just assumed that it wouldn't be me in the end and Alena was like, "Oh no, it will definitely be you. You will definitely sing." It was so exciting for me, especially on this one standing on the incredible opera stage and because I'm in my career right now, I get the ball rolling by releasing music myself. It's such a big part of my life that it makes me really happy to acknowledge that a little bit in the show really makes me happy.
Can you even talk about the music you're working on?
Absolutely. Music came before I played for myself. I sing and write. Songwriting has always been an expression of what is going on around me and I will be releasing music in the near future. It's not part of musical theater, although I loved doing it as an actress. It's really fun to play and sing in something. My music is very different from it. I am really looking forward to introducing people to this page of myself and to being able to talk about it now.
I want to talk about the images we are using for this story. We get a little glimpse of what a fit looks like between you and your stylist Sarah Slutsky. What do you like about Sarah's approach to fashion / styling?
Sarah and I met on Instagram DM and she basically saved my life. I was just about to do my first press tour for Anna and the Apocalypse and I had no idea that actresses had stylists. All of a sudden I was thrown all these events that I was going to and I said, "What the hell am I wearing?" Sarah magically emailed me four days before my tour out of the blue saying she would like to try to work together when I was ready and I immediately said, “Yes please!” Sarah takes the stress out of the Gone fashion and just make it so fun, and she's become one of my closest friends in New York. Our relationship is not just about what I wear, but also about discovering ourselves as artists – from Sarah as a photographer to me as a musician and artist – and finding ways to embody this in our friendship and work relationship, what the best is fun!
What did you and Sarah want to convey or achieve with your Dickinson press looks?
I recently cut my hair and really enjoy leaning into androgyny, and Sarah really empowered me to enjoy androgyny in a sexy way. I'm 22 and it's the first time I've felt really great just owning my sexuality and finding outfits that speak to it and build on the fashion relationships I've started over the years. This was one of the funnest dressings.
I love how you show off the looks on Instagram.
Oh yeah, the ridiculous shots we made! I grew up doing a lot of photography and fashion photography because my family are all artists and my father is an art collector and dealer. There were some Helmut Newton pictures that I wanted to channel into photo shoots on the Zoom press day. This one on the kitchen floor is an homage to Helmut Newton.
How would you say these looks are an extension of your everyday style?
This year has been really bizarre because I spent most of the year – I think most of us – in sweatpants and not really thinking about what I'm wearing. So getting back to fashion with a fresh pair of eyes was even more fun and, oddly enough, this time empowered me to feel more like myself. There's something in these long latex YSL boots. I felt how I felt when I put mine on [Dr. Martens] in a sense – just being able to conquer the world. Of course it's completely different, but I felt just as safe in these thigh-high boots as I did in mine [Dr. Martens]. Sarah and I really enjoyed finding ways to channel my grungy street dressing with dressing for events as an artist.
What are you most looking forward to this New Year?
I am very happy to work and work with more respect and love for collaboration, because after a year in which I had to stimulate myself from a bedroom largely alone, it will be really wonderful to recharge these creative batteries when I am in I'm close to other artists. I'm particularly looking forward to that. I am really looking forward to introducing my music to people. This really is the big thing I'm looking forward to this year. And of course shoot Dickinson Season three.
Dickinson The second season is now running on AppleTV +.