fashion feelings

Hari Nef on How Fashion Helped Her Find Herself

Illustration: Joana Avillez

In Fashion Feelings, we’ll be talking to notable people about how fashion changed their lives. Here, model and Transparent actress Hari Nef on how discovering high fashion online shaped her self-discovery.  

My first boyfriend was a fashion designer. He was a junior in high school, I was a freshman. I remember one day sitting on his lap in the library and he told me, “I feel like you’d really like this Jean Paul Gaultier show that just went up.” I’m like, What? What’s going on? He showed it to me and I thought, You mean there’s like a bunch of these on the internet that I can just look at? After that, I looked at every single collection that had in HD, from fall 2005 until 2009. I saved my favorite looks, and posted them on my LiveJournal in an archive. It was a meditation. There was no reason for it. I wasn’t really sharing it with anyone. It was just something I did because it made me happy.

Nef on the Transparent set. Photo: Jennifer Clasen

It takes place at a crossroads between body and attitude, this aesthetic that I’m talking about. Vogue was lying around the house. But for every Vogue there was an Us Weekly, a People, an InStyle. Freja Beha Erichsen wasn’t on the cover of People, Jennifer Aniston was. Angelina Jolie was. Megan Fox was. No shade to them, but I can’t look like any of these people. It’s not going to happen for me unless I get a bunch of very expensive surgeries and hair extensions and all of that stuff. It wasn’t even an alternative that I found — it was something that I was drawn to for years and years before I realized I actually needed it. I didn’t really know why I was so into it before until all of a sudden everything came full circle and I kind of realized why I cared so much about fashion in the first place. I was laying the grounds for somewhere I could see myself.