it girl

Laura Harrier Wants ‘It’ Girls to Go Back to Gatekeeping

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Julian Ungano

Laura Harrier knows she’s on your “quiet luxury” mood boards. The actress would rather describe her style as “expressive minimalism,” she explains over our call. “When I see a lot of these references, it feels very beige,” she says. “It feels devoid of any uniqueness or “It” factor that makes people interesting.”

She joins our call from her sun-drenched home, art adorning the walls behind her and her hair pulled into a slicked-back ponytail you’ve probably seen more than a few TikTok tutorials on. It’s no surprise her effortless style has landed on more than a few Pinterest boards and slideshows. The former model and fashion-industry favorite is often front row at shows like Saint Laurent and occasionally styled by creative director Anthony Vaccarello himself. Despite all that, some of her staple pieces include vintage Levi’s, and like everyone else she’s also browsing The RealReal.

Having grown up in Chicago, she moved to New York City to attend New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, landing her in the midst of indie sleaze and a new era of “It” girls lensed by the Cobrasnake. She cites Cory Kennedy, Alexa Chung, and Genevieve Jones as her definition of “It” girls: “They all had great style and this free and fun life.” Another era she’s immersing herself in is the ’70s in her prep for her latest role as Suzanne de Passe in Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming Michael Jackson biopic. While preparing for the role includes switching from her usual disco playlist to Motown music, another thing she’s excited about is delving into de Passe’s archives, which include lots of flared denim and Pucci suits.

What is an “It” girl?

I always felt like being an “It” girl is hard to describe as a tangible thing. You want to be around them and emulate them, but you can never emulate them because what makes them an “It” girl is that they’re one of a kind. They’re people you want to be around and dress like, whose parties you want to attend. It’s sort of an aspirational cool girl who still feels grounded in a way.

Who are some musicians you would classify as “It” girls?

Grace Jones was the ultimate “It” girl. She was completely unique, creative, beautiful, and totally wild, and she forged her own path. My dream would be to go back in time and be at Studio 54 with all of them. Sade is also my forever inspiration and such an “It” girl.

Do you consider yourself an “It” girl?

I think so. It’s hard to reference yourself as that, but I try to stay true to myself and create my style. I have a really strong sense of taste and what I like and don’t like. When I wear things, I see people wearing them as well. When I was younger and admired all of these people, I would think, When I’m older, I want to be an “It” girl, so I’m very flattered.

Who are some musicians/artists you looked up to and inspired your style?

Diana Ross. She’s beyond “It” girl; she’s an icon, a diva. She’s someone I’ve always admired and loved. David Bowie is such an icon and someone who had “It.”

Where do you like to go out?

It depends on where I am. When I’m in L.A., I love a house party or dinner party, I love to host and have friends over on my balcony. If I’m going out to Bar Stella or Lolo’s or just little hole-in-the-wall places, I’ll dance at Zebulon. When I’m in New York, I’m going out way more, as you do in New York. In Paris — I love to go out in Paris — there’s always a dance party. We’ll eat at Clamato or Sur Mer, and it always ends with drinks at Cafe Flor and then some party.

So if you’re throwing a house party, how’s your space set up and what’s on the playlist?

At this table, I do drinks, ice buckets, and snacks. I only have candles and low light, none of the overhead lights. Lighting is so important, and people forget that at a party and it’s the worst when you walk into a party and it’s fucking bright and you can’t relax. It drives me insane.

I have this outdoor space I’ll make really pretty with a table cloth and outdoor string lights and stuff. Then the playlist usually starts with ’70s, disco vibes, and as the night goes on, we’ll move to an early-2000s dance vibe.

So no big lights. What about scented candles? Is there a dress code? 

Not too many scented candles, I don’t want it to smell crazy but I’ll do a Diptyque Tuberose candle. I have a fireplace so I like to light that too. No big lights, nothing aggressive, everyone needs to look sexy, and you look so much better by candlelight. I don’t have a dress code but do say, “Look cute.” You should wear what you feel comfortable in. I’m not going to do a strict black-tie party, but I love when people show up in a look.

Where do you like to shop?

I shop a lot of vintage. I dig through The RealReal a lot. I shop a lot of The Row and Khaite on sale. L.A. vintage stores are very picked over, so when I’m in Europe I go to my favorite places, but I don’t want to say where. Controversial opinion, but I feel like we need to go back to gatekeeping. Everyone is sharing way too much information. We’ve all worked hard to find places and a distinct style, and I don’t think it should be given out on the internet all the time. That’s my rant about that.

An “It” girl does need to gatekeep a little bit; that’s her mystery. You mentioned not liking “quiet luxury.” Why not? You sometimes get put into that category. How would you describe your style instead?

I know that my style is minimal, so I understand being grouped into that category, and I’m not angry, it’s fine, but I would describe my style more as expressive minimalism. I like to have a more interesting factor or story behind what I’m wearing instead of “This is expensive and beige,” which is to me what quiet luxury feels like.

Having seen your style and hearing about the way you shop, it seems very curated as opposed to piling on pieces because they’re designer.

What I love is curation, and that’s why I’m not trying to be bitchy about gatekeeping. Still, I think what makes style fun and interesting and what elevates a taste level is a high level of selectivity and curation.

Something I think you’ve nailed is chic style even when it’s casual. What are some of your wardrobe essentials?

A button-down shirt is a go-to. My favorites are from Helsa and The Row, and my stylist Danielle Goldberg did a capsule with some good ones. You can find good ones from Dior on eBay, too. Vintage Levi’s are a staple. I’ve yet to find a perfect white T-shirt. Then I have a bunch of cashmere sweaters from all over the place. What makes it interesting is how you style it.

You’ve talked a lot about skin care and beauty with us. What’s an “It”-girl beauty must-have?

Black eyeliner is an “It”-girl beauty product. We’re going out at night and for me, a smudgy black liner is my nighttime go-to. I just put it on and keep it moving. I won’t do my makeup for more than ten minutes, and it’s the fastest way to get a look. It’s always sexy and a vibe.

You’re taking on the role of Suzanne de Passe. What’s the preparation/research for that like?

I’ve been talking to Suzanne a lot. She’s such an inspiring woman, and being able to talk to her is the best research I could ask for. We spent much time together learning about her life and career and her experience with Michael and the Jackson 5. Beyond that, I’ve been immersing myself in that world, listening to a ton of Motown music, learning more about the company, and figuring out where Suzanne was at that time. She was 23 when she discovered the Jackson 5. She was an “It” girl really, she got that job from going out and being in New York and being a cool girl, and people wanted her opinion on music. Suzanne has a lot of old footage and a ton of her clothes from that time and gave our costume department a bunch of clothes from the ’70s: these incredible Pucci suits and cool jeans.

Are there any art girls you’d consider to be “It” girls?

My friend Cassi Namoda comes to mind. She’s so chic and has such a cool aesthetic. I love her work so much. New York gallery girl has such an “It”-girl vibe and is a specific type of girl we all know.

Laura Harrier Wants ‘It’ Girls to Go Back to Gatekeeping