Kiernan Shipka Is Messi the Dog’s No. 1 Fan

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, Everett Collection

Kiernan Shipka is no stranger to a midday nap, especially when she’s traveling. When the 24-year-old actress calls me on Thursday, it’s 6 p.m. in Paris and she has just woken up. “Maybe it’ll give me some clarity,” she chirps. Earlier that day, Shipka attended Chemena Kamali’s debut Chloé show for Paris Fashion Week, dressed in a comfy green set and a pair of matching platform shoes with the whole front row.

After landing a role in Mad Men in 2007, Shipka has been steadily acting since. But it wasn’t until last year that she had her first chance to cameo as herself on HBO’s The Other Two. The show is known for its almost too relevant pop-culture nods, but thankfully, Shipka’s stint at playing herself didn’t come with too much pressure. “I was lucky because I was playing a pretty annoying, removed version of myself,” she says. “I was playing ‘Spoof Kiernan,’ which took the pressure off me to appear any certain way.” As for the real Kiernan, her latest obsession feels as niche and memeable as something The Other Two would bring up: Messi, the lovely border collie from the French film Anatomy of a Fall. He was even on her mind during Chloé’s finale: “It’s really special to be there for the first show of a new designer. When it was over, I didn’t know how much time had passed. I was just so enamored with the clothes. I mean, Messi should have walked, but besides that, it was great.”

Photo: Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for Chloé/Courtesy of Chloé

What does the hour before a fashion show look like for you?

With an early-morning show: coffee, really good music, and good natural light coming in. I need to have some kind of a fun drink in hand, especially in the morning.

What’s the type of music you’re listening to?

Dolly Parton. We had the new Beyoncé country song on because it will probably be my most-played song of the year. I’ve been making an active effort to listen to music that makes me feel really good and happy, especially in the morning, because I love a sad-girl song as much as the next person, but I realized it was maybe getting me down a little bit. If I go straight to the Phoebe Bridgers at 7 a.m., I don’t know how my day will go.

What is the worst thing someone can do sitting in the front row? 

It’s a little bit corny, but I think it’s just so easy to grab your phone. If for two seconds you’re not talking to someone, especially in those situations where there’s a ton of people and you might be feeling this way or that way, but I’m trying just to sit there and take things in and be present instead of just immediately going to the phone.

Where do you get your best Paris recommendations from?

I have a very trusty restaurant-expert friend here who gave me an initial list that I work with. And now I’ve built up my own list of places that I love to go to. I make a note of the ones that I really like and that I want to come back to and then I always aim to try at least one or two new places every time I come back so I can expand the list. I’ve made my own “Kiernan’s Paris list,” and I’ll send it if someone is coming here for the first time. I’m not a local, but I feel pretty good about sending people to a couple of places that I’ve just really grown to love.

If somewhere is trending on TikTok, are you going to try to bear the line to go? 

I’m not a big line person. I will wait in line for something if I really want to try it, but for the most part, when I’m in a place like Paris and I don’t have enough time, I’ll try to find less line-driven places. The anticipation of the wait and then the croissant being gone in like two seconds — the build-up versus how much time I’m probably eating the thing — I just don’t love that part. I’m not like, I need the next trendiest thing; I want to find the smaller places that not as many people know about.

What’s your hack for traveling? 

I have an itinerary. I like having an outline of the places I want to go and the things I want to do, though I don’t mind breaking it. I always buy something special and small; I like taking a little piece of the trip home with me. A good midday nap is always lovely. I find that all the good habits I have when I’m home go out the window when I travel. I drink more coffee and all my meal times are different, but to me, my No. 1 priority when I’m in a special place like this is just to be present and enjoy it.

What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received? 

It was implanted in my head really young on Mad Men by our costume designer, Janie Bryant, but I remember her emphasizing that style could tell a story and that it was more than just clothes: It was what you wanted to say with the clothes. That’s always stuck with me. The notion of being able to express yourself through clothing has always made fashion an exciting thing to me instead of a stressful thing. And as I’ve gotten older and I’ve been doing this little roundabout for a while, it just gets increasingly important to feel like me and to feel comfortable and not to feel like I’m trying to mold myself into the outfit but rather let it share what I’m feeling at that moment.

If you were having a fashion show, what city would it be in and what five celebrities would be in your front row? 

I would do the fashion show in Los Angeles because I grew up there, so that feels authentic and right to me. As far as people being in the front row, I would love to have my Mad Men girls there. I know that’s not one person, but having my castmates from that and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina would be very fun. So like January Jones, Christian Hendricks, and Jaz Sinclair. I started thinking about Dolly Parton once I started talking about her earlier, so my jaw would drop if she came to my fashion show. And then maybe someone who’s not typically associated with fashion, like Andrew Huberman. I love his podcast, and if he wants to come to my fashion show, I’d be honored.

What is your comfort rewatch?

Bridesmaids. I watched that the other day, and it’s just banger after banger. Every scene is stunning.

What is something you’ll never watch? 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Marley and Me, and I don’t think I plan on it because I hear that the ending is sad. I panicked for those two minutes in Anatomy of a Fall when Messi was giving a great performance and I thought he wasn’t gonna make it. Dogs dying is pretty rough for me.

I’m glad you brought that up because Messi’s performance was one of the best parts of that movie. I didn’t care about the husband, I cared about the dog. 

I was straight-up worried for two minutes but also so impressed, and I think he deserves the world. That was an incredible canine performance, and I have not stopped thinking about it since. Messi is everything to me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Kiernan Shipka Is Messi the Dog’s No. 1 Fan