Playing JULES on HBO’s EUPHORIA may have made HUNTER SCHAFER a STAR, but it is only the FIRST CHAPTER of this ARTIST’S STORY—and she’s in COMPLETE CONTROL.
IN MANY WAYS, what we consider to be great art is not unlike what we think of as great fashion: unmistakable, powerful, statement- making, eluding definition just as it screams for it. Richard Avedon, who got his start as a photographer in Harper’s Bazaar, once characterized art as an attempt to control the uncontrollable. John Edmonds, who shot this issue’s cover story, has used his own art to explore subjects like identity and community. The Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose pioneering collaborations with Salvador Dalí in the 1930s paved the way for our contemporary fashion- and-art mashups, felt that designing clothes was itself an art—and the pieces she created supported that belief. Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli says in these pages that fashion, to him, is not art, though his own vision of fashion often refutes that notion. That’s the beauty of art. It can be both meaningful and meaningless. It can be about aesthetics, perspective, or self- expression. It can be about emotions or ideas. It can be personal and/or political; it can please and/or anger, challenge and/or pander. It is frequently cast as a matter of taste, circumstance, or opinion—and at times, that may be true (for better and for worse). But at its best, art can inspire us to look further and dig deeper. That’s why we decided to devote this issue to art, not as a subject but as a lens through which to look at and understand both fashion and the world—because in life, everything can be art and anyone can be an artist, and if you keep your eyes peeled, there’s a masterpiece lurking behind every corner.
On how she looks back on certain parts of her life: “Mostly everything before I transitioned is a blur. But as soon as I started working and had a bare purpose, it’s easier to refer to parks of my life: when I was a contributor for Rookie, when my first modeling agency took me out to New York, when Euphoria happened. Now I’m in this new phase where I’m kind of comfortable. Life isn’t happening to me, for the first time.”
On Jules, the character she plays on Euphoria, and how her similarities to the character affect her acting: “There’s a lot of me in Jules. I do think blurred lines between an actor and a character make a deeper character. The work of an actor is trying to simulate a full life. Some people might say that doesn’t make me as strong of an actor, but…that’s how I learned. I’m still forming that process and also setting boundaries, which I didn’t have in season one.”
On being slightly skeptical of Method acting, respecting the practice as a tradition but unsure if such a creative decision would be sustainable for her: “I’ve already spent a lot of my life trying to be someone I’m not. And even if it is my job title, I’m not interested in doing that again for long periods of time.”
On reflecting on her childhood, how she feels her life truly began after transitioning, and what she has taken from her life that impacts her art: “One day Z was telling a story from her childhood, and then she said, ‘You never talk about your childhood.’ It’s a little bit sad but also true to say that I feel like the story of my life begins in my late teens, when I was finally living in the world the way I was supposed to. I don’t know if I’ve talked about this in the press before, but I think there’s a phenomenon among the trans and queer community, and it’s why we make great artists a lot of the time. When your exterior world and your body and your self are not in line with who you are, you turn inward. And my theory is that I built a really rich inner world until I started feeling like myself in my body. I’ve been trying to do the work of digging up stuff, but it’s going to take a while to excavate everything.”
On the future of her career and how she is interested in more than just acting: “I want to have longevity as an artist, whatever form that comes in. The one thing I have faith in is the evolution of how I make art. It’s something that is growing in me all the time. But there’s no plan. I’m not attached to one career. I want to do everything. I’m really lucky that I have space and resources to just … try new sh*t and see if it sticks.”
On finding grounding communities in each place she has lived: “I haven’t spent more than three or four years in the same city, except for Raleigh when I was growing up. But since then it’s been these little pockets of special, intense relationships. Parents and siblings, my first friends in New York, my first love. And now my Euphoria family, the community I’ve found in Los Angeles. Not to say I’ve left the previous relationships behind, but I believe in ebbing and flowing. People need each other in a really special way sometimes, and then that need falls away as you both move forward in life. What’s left is the love and the care that carries on.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands December 7.
Cover 1: Prada Cardigan | Van Cleef & Arpels Earrings
Cover 2: Louis Vuitton Top | Van Cleef & Arpels Earrings.
Image 2: Bottega Veneta Dress | Fogal Tights
Image 2: Balenciaga Gown and Pumps
Styled by Stella Greenspan
[Photo Credit: John Edmonds for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine]
Olivia Colman in Elie Saab at the “Landscapers” London Premiere Next Post:
British Fashion Awards Red Carpet Rundown