Chloe Sevigny is late. I've been waiting outside her Lane Crawford suite for more than an hour. She's doing her make-up, says a PR woman. She won't be a minute. The door to the suite is slightly ajar. I take a peek and get my first glance at the fashion muse and actress: she's decked out in a full denim getup - shirt, skirt, jacket - a fashion no-no, but she wears it well, lounging on the couch surrounded by her entourage of six. The girls are all bleach-blond, the guys bearded and bohemian. Champagne and strawberries sit untouched, and there's not a make-up artist in sight. When she emerges 10 minutes later, she's dressed exactly the same and has an au natural look about her. It's doubtful any make-up has been applied, but it doesn't matter. There's a sense of effortless cool to Sevigny, one that forgives any fashionable lateness because, well, here she is and you can't help but want to be around her. Sevigny isn't your average fashion icon. She's not 'model-pretty', as she would say, but she's living proof that one doesn't need stunning looks for a sense of style. In her 17 years in the public eye, she's played muse to such high-profile names as Marc Jacobs, Terry Richardson and Daisy Von Furth. And then there's her acting career, which has ranged from a hit TV show (Big Love) and big-budget studio pictures (Zodiac), to indie Oscar favourites (Boys Don't Cry) and midnight cult classic (American Psycho). But before she was any of that, she was just Chlo? it girl of the moment. In 1994, Bright Lights, Big City author Jay McInerney was walking down the streets of Brooklyn when he noticed a 19-year-old who he hailed as 'the coolest girl in the world'. He wrote a seven-page profile on her for the New Yorker's first annual fashion issue. 'The media always wants someone to celebrate and I was the person they were celebrating at the time,' says Sevigny. 'And I'm glad they did. It helped my career and the things I wanted to do. It set this prestigious tone that people are still referencing.' Those who read the profile were struck by this exceptionally confident teenager with more style in her little finger than most industry folk had in their whole body. Soon Sevigny was everywhere, critics easily comparing her to such '60s fashion muses as Edie Sedgwick and Jean Seberg. But the truth was a little different; your classic tale of a little girl shoved into the limelight. 'Back then I was very tentative about fame and what that meant, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a living,' she says. 'I hated walking into a party or a gallery opening and being so uncomfortable in my skin; it was torturous. I was worried with aligning myself with different things and making a statement, so that came out in my wild dress sense: pink hair, insane outfits.' Almost two decades later and a lot of things have changed: Brooklyn's gentrified, its lofts now inhabited by wealthy bankers and hipper-than-thou creative types; McInerney's washed-up, a vestige of the clubs-and-cocaine '80s; and nobody really takes the New Yorker's fashion issues seriously anymore. Sevigny's changed too, but for the better. She's slowly shedded her wild fashion-icon image and all the overblown press that came with it. 'I don't care about being at the forefront or wearing the coolest outfit in the room,' she says. 'I'm trying to be more utilitarian without all the accoutrements that made me feel more interesting. Now I feel it just doesn't matter.' That sense of carefree comfort is obvious in her acting roles, with most only knowing Sevigny for her Hollywood performances. But it's her work in the fashion industry that gets Sevigny's most excited these days. Don't get her wrong, though - she always wanted to be an actress. 'I've just always been more attracted to fashion,' says Sevigny. 'I feel much more comfortable in the fashion world than in Hollywood. Hollywood's so much about sex and whether men find you attractive. Fashion, people have so many different interests, and there's so much more room to be weird and experimental. It's not about the champagne; it's about having fun and doing something new.' Sevigny's fashion work is currently limited to collaborations with Manhattan-based retail outlet Opening Ceremony, considering it a vanity project more than anything else, a 'selfish endeavour'. Of course, not everyone treats it that way: the advent of the internet has seen anyone with a laptop become a critic, and forums erupt when actress-turned-fashion-designer news emerges. The biggest criticisms so far, have been that the pieces are too one-note and expensive. 'Would people say that of [Comme des Gar?ons founder] Rei Kawakubo? ' she says. 'When you have your own aesthetics, you just design for yourself. It's not high fashion; it's street-wear. It might be more expensive than a disposable brand such as H&M, but it's still fairly affordable.' The praise for her work though, has been as extensive as the criticism, which begs the question of whether Sevigny would ever branch out from collaborations and start her own line. She was recently approached by financiers, a group of investors willing to put up most of the capital for a Chlo?Sevigny label if she just did her thing. 'But there's so much pressure,' she says. 'My name's on it, so I'd want to make sure it comes out the way I want. I wouldn't want to have someone else come up with the ideas; I'd want it to be my project. The J.Lo's and Gwen Stefani's are just flash in a pan - it's so much harder to sustain over the years.' Ironic as it may be for an actress who's more interested in fashion, the celebrity-does-couture clich?keeps Sevigny away from fully embracing her passion. While not naming names, she's positive that many Hollywood celebrities who dabble in fashion are just fronts for other designers ('I can't imagine stars working with Reebok are really designing exercise bra-tops'). The fashion world's a tough gig, one that many people - including Sevigny - can't keep up with. 'I have so much respect for fashion designers. Even just walking through here and seeing all the dresses,' she says. 'I think 'My god!' If I could ever be as imaginative to come up with something like that, maybe I would do it.' The only possibility would be a collaboration with one of her favourite designers: Christopher Kane, Nicolas Ghesqui?re and Phoebe Philo. Her future, however, isn't behind the catwalk or even in front of the cameras. It's a combination of both: costume design. 'Lots of films I've been involved, I've wanted to do the costumes,' she says. 'But obviously, you can't act at the same time, so when I get older it's something I'll pursue more. I'm still in love with fashion design, and I really feel fashion adds so much to film.' The works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Sofia Coppola and, more than anyone, Gus Van Sant feature her favourite costumes: '[Van Sant's] My Own Private Idaho is the ultimate; everyone looks like the clothes are extensions of their characters, it's simple yet detailed.' Until that day comes, Sevigny has enough on her plate to keep her busy: at 36, she's no longer just a set of hot legs, her age and experience having reached a point where not only are major filmmakers starting to appreciate her talent, but Sevigny's own confidence is shining through. HBO, the network behind her TV show Big Love, recently announced production of what she considers her baby: a four-hour mini-series on 19th-century murderer Lizzie Borden. Sevigny will star and produce, the actress currently knee-deep in pre-production. Before all that though, she's starring in the lead role of Hit and Miss, a British TV series about a transsexual assassin. 'It's my first action-y role,' says Sevigny. 'I'm really excited.' Indeed, many are: pre-release buzz of the show has been immense, with three major US networks in a bidding war over airing rights. Come next year, don't be surprised if Sevigny pulls a Johnny Depp-like Cinderella act from indie art-house darling to A-list action star and producer. And then there's fashion, an industry always on her radar - although not in the way you'd expect. In June, Sevigny released her latest collaboration with Opening Ceremony, and is planning many more. What styles she'll conjure up or trends she'll create is anyone's guess - including Sevigny's. 'I don't really look at fashion,' she says with a laugh. 'I just wear what I like.' Chloe moments ON THE RED CARPET 2000 72nd Annual Academy Awards. Dress: Yves Saint Laurent. 2008 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Dress: Preen 2009 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Dress: Isaac Mizrahi 2010 Met Costume Institute Gala. Dress: Proenza Schouler 2010 Golden Globe Awards. Dress: Valentino (left) ON THE BIG SCREEN Kids (1995); Gummo (1997) Sevigny's first role was in the Harmony Korine-scripted Kids, playing an HIV-positive teenager lost in an amoral New York City filled with sex and drugs. She followed it up with Korine's avant garde directorial debut Gummo, pulling double duty as actress and costume designer. The Last Days of Disco (1998) This Studio 54-centred comedy saw Sevigny star alongside Kate Beckinsale and fellow fashion designer Tara Subkoff. Underrated upon its release, it has since become a cult classic thanks to its inclusion in the Criterion Collection. Boys Don't Cry (1999) Sevigny broke into the mainstream with this independent film, based on the true story of transgender man Brandon Teena. Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar, she lost out to Angelina Jolie. Brown Bunny (2001) Infamous for its final scene more than anything else, this art film saw Sevigny perform a near-pornographic act of fellatio on the film's star, Vincent Gallo. Zodiac (2007) David Fincher's big-budget film saw the actress mature, curtailing her quirky sensibilities to play the wife of obsessive Zodiac killer hunter Robert Graysmith.