Decked Out: Juliette Lewis' Rock 'n' Roll Superhero Vibes
As she readies to go on tour for the first time in six years with her band, The Licks, the singer and 'Jem and The Holograms' star shares the secrets to her effortless style, on stage and off.
Multi-hyphenate Juliette Lewis needs no introduction. Since winning us over with her Oscar-nominated role in Cape Fear, the Los Angeles native has had us eating out of her hand with her performances in cult fave flicks like Kalifornia, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Natural Born Killers and most recently, in August Osage County opposite Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.
Beyond the silver screen, Lewis is a mighty force to be reckoned with on stage, too, both as a solo artist and the lead singer of her band, Juliette Lewis and The Licks, which has reunited for the first time since 2009.
In between a slew of new projects including an album slated for spring release, a role in the ABC miniseries Secrets and Lies and starring in the new Jem and the Holograms flick this fall, Lewis kicks off an international tour with her band, starting at L.A.'s fabled El Rey Theatre on Thursday night. Ahead of her inaugural show, Lewis dished on all things fashion, and what keeps her artistic engines revved.
Pret-a-Reporter: You’ve reunited your band, The Licks, and are readying to take the stage again together for the first time in six years. What does that feel like?
Juliette Lewis: I cannot describe how good it feels. At our last practice, it was just non-stop humor and energy, and we’ve all grown by leaps and bounds, so what we have to give to the music is so much more. And we’re so tight. That’s all you want from a rock 'n' roll band — to fit like a glove.
How do you describe your onstage look?
A rock ’n’ roll superhero. Everything has to fit me like a second skin because we all move around so much and I get crazy sweaty, so I don’t have really ornate costumes. They have to be functional, and they have to be vibrant and pop off stage. [At the El Rey show] I’ll be wearing these kind of latex red pants. I got them years ago and literally pulled them from my closet because I don’t have time. I’ll wear them with this bikini that’s a one piece, under a shirt, because I like layers. I usually start with a jacket, and by the second song, that’s off. I have never worn this outfit before on stage. I like a very stripped-down, deconstructed, very human but super-hero kind of vibe. I was inspired a lot by wrestlers, too. For heels I usually go to a cheap boot store on Melrose and buy Jeffrey Campbells. They have to have a low heel, like, two inches. By the end of the year on a tour, I usually have to tape them.
And your day-to-day style?
Anything I do, I like to have an easy elegance about it. I do like chic things that make me feel polished sometimes but I just don’t want to put a lot of effort into it. It’s about quality and cut.
What’s the one piece in your closet you can never seem to part with?
I love these Levi’s. They are skin-tight. But sometimes I like baggy stuff. I go through phases. My personalities change all the time.
Who are some the tried-and-true designers you usually turn to?
Earlier this summer, you starred in a short film for Mara Hoffman’s new activewear line. How did that collaboration come about?
Mara is just the best. We met at a boutique in L.A. two years ago, and I was a fan of hers. She’s my kind of person. We talk yoga and family and love. Everything she does has a spiritual element and is so bohemian and unique, and her aesthetic and my aesthetic join perfectly. She got Ryan Heffington who does Sia’s music videos — who is brilliant — as a choreographer, and we went out into the desert near Joshua Tree. It was all in the stars.
What else are you working on, currently?
I’m shooting a documentary with my friend Michael Rapaport. I’ve known him for twenty years. It’s a profile on an artist — me —navigating her way through the different mediums: I have a TV show that I will start in two weeks; I put together my old band, The Licks, and I’ll be releasing a record at the end of the year. And I also have Jem and the Holograms coming out, so it’s sort of like — how do you navigate the mediums? And they are all different things that I am nourished by.
That’s a lot to take on at once.
These opportunities have come to me. It’s not like I sought them out. And I am really big into, "Wow, what’s the opportunity here? This is something fun." I was just saying in an interview the other day, anything in the arts has to be done out of necessity at the end of the day. Meaning, you’d feel empty if you didn’t do it. If I didn’t song write and sing, I would feel like I’m missing my greatest love. And if I don’t express myself through characters and storytelling, I feel incomplete. I feel like there’s a part of my engine that’s not being used. It’s what I am.
SUITED IN PINK: "This salmon-colored suit is by The Kooples. I literally got it three years ago in England. I love the color because most of the time suits can feel heavy, but this one feels effortless. You can wear it day or night. I wore it to a U2 concert recently."
BLACK AND WHITE: "These shoes are Hugo Boss. I got them at a photo shoot recently. They are really mod to me because of the white heel; they’re future and past at the same time. I really like boots — they make me feel substantial. There are some heels like that, but with boots you feel more grounded."
ELECTRIFIED: "The necklace is from my sister. She always gets me the best things and they mean the most because they are from her, and she’s the light of my life."
CAT-EYE CHIC: "These sunglasses are Prada, and they are just delicious and the perfect shape for me. A little bit of cat-eye, glamorous but not overdone."
BAND OF COLOR: “The bag is my ‘everything’ tote. It's Mara Hoffman, I like color. Once in a while I’ll wear black, but I like things that have a vibrancy to them.”
SILVER LINING: "I got this Isabel Marant jacket right before Christmas last year. I fell in love with it. You know when you invest in those pieces from certain designers that last forever? It’s one of those."
IN FINE FEATHER: "This costume was inspired by [the book] The Little Prince, who fell to the jungle. I was really into sky and earth. To me, the feathers represent flight and freedom and rock ‘n’ roll is very rooted in earth and rumblings. The shrug with feathers was tailored by Marina Toybina. We met on a photo shoot.”
Juliette Lewis was photographed by Amanda Friedman at Laurel Tavern in Studio City.