Jemima Kirke: Style Heroin?

For 4/2/14

Why is she a style heroin?

This is not a rhetorical question, I’m genuinely unsure.

The actress, artist and mother’s outfits aren’t particularly trend-led. She isn’t LA-skinny and is a far cry from the refined, polished New Yorker governing the Gossip Girl situation.

Not that I’m motivated by these factors, but she doesn’t conform to the look of most style icons. It’s hard to pinpoint why her style is so unique and different from ‘different’.

Kirke’s dressing impulse is rooted in a bold, bohemian disposition, coupled with a robust family tree.

Like a vanilla boyfriend or stolen lighter, her clothing decisions get dragged along in the fray. They go with her mood: largely one-track-cool.

Rex Features

Sure, there is no distinct line between her GIRLS character, Jessa, and Jemima’s wardrobe because in many ways, Jessa is the hyperbole of Jemima (GIRLS’ director and co-star, Lena Dunham, knew her through college and she inspired her character – which she was fortunately to be cast as). Her shocking, disturbing, pretty clothes fuel this enigma surrounding Jemima, wait, sorry, Jessa.

Billowy, bohemian outfits are daring and unpredictable and there is a romantic softness to many of the dresses she wears.

Recent red carpet get-ups of the star spread like wild fire across insta-world and fashion blogs. The silver two-piece, the silk negligée and gentrified thrift-shop numbers have painted homepages and proved her style to be both resilient and adaptable.

Rex Features

Kirke’s confidence and blasé attitude ignite these clothes, inviting fans to believe that her cool is contagious; her moyen d’etre can be bought off a shop rail. It’s an exciting concept for those in need of a bit of armour and not such an absurd idea that clothes can influence perception, right?

And then there’s the history.

Kirke comes from a cool, bohemian royalty – rock royalty in fact. She is the daughter of Simon Kirke, the former drummer of the rock bands Bad Company and Free. Her mother owns a vintage boutique in New York which accounted for several outfits in the television series, Sex and the City. Oh, and her cousins are Alice and Charlotte Dellal, the model and shoe designer.

She’s not trying to be cool with her style, it’s in her blood.

She admits to a life in the fast-lane before she settled down with her lawyer husband in Brooklyn, claiming she was wild before she was 24 – the ‘Jessa’ days. The cool girl at school, Kirke reportedly indulged in her love of smoking and skipping class – a daunting idol for the likes of goon-chic Dunham. Jemima confesses her aloof attitude supporting her clothes can be switched on and off and is sometimes a defence mechanism, comforting humility pangs with quick fix of “fucking awesome”. Some are more successful than others at this trick.

While she may have settled down and moved into a new phase of her life, that defiant streak we see on GIRLS is by no means exclusive to Jessa and continues to manifest itself in Kirke’s clothes. Even her mythical red carpet dresses come accessorised with some weighty arm tattoos, apathetic eyes and blood-red lipstick. Only last summer she was forcibly removed from Jay-Z’s waist by security guards when she, ahem, ‘rapped’ herself around him at the Pace Gallery in Manhattan. ‘Jessa’ was unleashed, shocking the crowds – even Jay Z looked scared, and he must have seen some weird shit.

Her creativity extends to painting, which she was encouraged to do by her mother from an early age. Painting mainly women, Kirke transfers this skill to painting her own image- using a unique set of brushes.  A natural in effortless eccentricity. And like all great artists’ work, she invites intrigue, admiration, even envy, demanding a few minutes of someone’s undivided attention with a ballsy tee or sheer black skirt.

And finally there’s the canvas – not for her art, for her clothes.

While her raw, rebellious persona is intriguing, her body is mesmerizing, for all sexes and sizes.

It’s inspiring how her confident posture and provocative clothes (not in a page 3 sense) can smash stereo-types of what constitutes a great figure. According to modern standards, she may be slightly larger than other celebrities or too pale/ missing shaped underwear. But that’s not on her agenda, and such confidence invites you to take it off yours as well.

Her womanly body (far from Kardashian curves) is more the shape of nude women in renaissance paintings, chilling with the cherubs,  grapes and harps. Her face, like a watercolour painting is creamy with sunken eyes and pixie-like features. Such a delicate canvas allows a fierce, assertive dress sense to wash out as irony.


Now the ode’s over, I’ll eat my words and buy Jemima Kirke’s style soul off a Rag & Bone rail.

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