Greta Lee won a special place in our hearts when she revealed her mortification at having to attend a parent-teacher evening in full Vogue glam after running from set to school. Movie star mode is not the default setting of a woman who now raises chickens in the hilly outskirts of LA, but boy does she give good fashion when she does dial into the fantasy of it all.
With a Loewe campaign behind her, Lee approached the promo trail for Past Lives, Celine Song’s quietly devastating romance for which Greta will surely get an Academy nod, with the gusto of a style plate who is not afraid to wear her crushed velvet Bottega with wet-look hair and a subtle smize for the camera.
If, as Lee told Jen Wang in American Vogue, her character Nora is “the fullest sketch of a person that [she has] gotten to play”, the Korean American actor’s red-carpet looks reflect this woman with multitudes. There’s been pearl-peppered Chanel bouclé separates, oversized ivory The Row tailoring and metallic Proenza Schouler dresses all worn with the same sharp cheekbones and shoulders-back stance. The actor’s brief to stylist Danielle Goldberg? To make her feel like herself: a touch rebellious and a soupçon sporty (Lee trained in dance).
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Nowhere does this come together more harmoniously than in the looks designed by Jonathan Anderson. Although Lee’s Loewe spring 2024 pre-collection pictures got overshadowed by her co-star Maggie Smith’s spellbinding turn in front of Juergen Teller’s camera, Greta is made for Anderson’s cerebral work. His innate playfulness—via an off-kilter neckline, a bulbous dress hem or a so-wrong-it’s-right shoe—invites a kind of storytelling; one we imagine Greta, who has spoken about using fashion to explore her identity, relates to.
Growing up in LA, Lee was constantly changing costumes as she navigated the uniforms she needed to fit into for her disparate social groups in Koreatown and Beverly Hills. Around the time she shot Girls (Soojin forever!) in 2013, she was modelling Mickey tees, tube skirts and Converse on the red carpet, and as her star ascended thanks to stints in buzzy shows New Girl (2014) and Broad City (2017), she steered her own path through Hollywood’s photocall scene wearing broderie anglaise tops and dungarees; floral dresses and princessy satin pumps. The takeaway for those watching? Lee shapes her style according to whoever she wants to be at the time. Her debut Emmys in 2020, for example, was her first big publicity moment after the birth of her second child, and she looked positively glowing in an iridescent green Christopher John Rogers crop top and ballgown skirt. It was a moment.
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It’s a willingness to experiment and not concern herself with looking cool which is precisely what makes Lee cool. While the fashion trajectory of It-girls is often linear (no one wants to tread a Chanel pump out of line!), this bright spark keeps us guessing, and that’s more thrilling than an archive of rare Hermès Birkins. Squeals of “love her” don’t reverberate round the walls of Vogue House every day, but they do for an appearance from Greta, a woman who contains multitudes.
This story was originally published on British Vogue.