This Friday, Zoe Lister-Jones’s new film Lola Versus, a comedy she co-wrote with Daryl Wein, opens in limited release. Buzzed-about actress Greta Gerwig plays the titular Lola, a woman whose world is turned upside down when her fiancé Luke (played by Joel Kinnaman) breaks off their engagement just weeks before the big day. As Lola’s 30th birthday creeps closer, she turns to her closest pal Alice (played brilliantly by Lister-Jones herself) and her friend-who-could-be-something-more Henry (Hamish Linklater) to help get her life back on track. Of course, her road to self-discovery hits a few bumps in the form of ill-advised (but hilarious) hook-ups, most notably with a Rollerblader who has a penchant for wild salmon. To reveal anything more would spoil the movie.
Read on for my interview with Zoe, in which we discuss the characters’ "authentic, lived-in" style sense, her aversion to sample sales and—of course—the joys of nail art.
Zoe Lister-Jones: Wait, before we start—I need to see your nails.
Lucky: They’re gels! Gradient glitter from Valley. I love them too.
They’re dope. I did mine last night while watching New Girl [Editor's note: Stars! They're just like us!], and they’re really janky…but from far away they look fine. I do them with nail pens because I have too much time on my hands. Close up they’re really shaky-looking, but in pictures, they’ll look fine…I think.
I mean, I’m impressed. So let’s talk Lola. It’s such an empowering movie—what would you say is the central message?
Probably that the answer is not always in Prince Charming. I think a lot of people, especially women, feel like to be whole, you need to find part of yourself in another person—probably because of the fables we’re told as kids. And especially now, that doesn’t have to be true. There’s a lot of people desperately seeking to find "the one," and I think we should learn to be more at peace with ourselves.
Lola’s such a multi-dimensional character that I feel like she must’ve come from someplace real. Is she based on someone in particular?
Daryl [Wein, who co-wrote the film] and I made a movie called Breaking Upwards before that was loosely based on an open relationship we were in, and during that year I got a taste of the single life. And I think that the seed of this film, and the character of Lola, came from my experiences that year as a single woman. While talking to my mom about it, I actually referred to it as "my year of traumatizing sexual escapades," and she was like, "that’s a great title for a film!" Obviously that didn’t make the cut, but it made me start thinking about how we haven’t seen an authentic portrait of a single woman in New York City that doesn’t feel overly glamourized. We wanted to explore the figurative noise in a woman’s head, which seems to be really overwhelming—at least to me and my friends. I think women are really self-analytical in a way that men aren’t. So really, the movie’s sort of about Lola’s journey to "quiet."
I loved a lot of the clothes Lola wears in the movie—lots of plaids and bold-colored skirts, very A.P.C.-esque. How much input did you have on the costumes?
Daryl and I both had a lot of input—we’re pretty meticulous about making sure our world is represented as authentically as possible. We didn’t want it to feel overly stylized, but more lived-in. There were a lot of pieces I myself would wear. And we didn’t want to go too extreme, because there’s the Sex and the City version of New York that’s really fun and exciting, but totally unaffordable. So instead, we wanted to mix textures, colors and patterns.
Where are some of your own favorite shopping haunts?
I really like No. 6, and I love Opening Ceremony when I can afford it. I love Creatures of Comfort. But then I also love H&M…you can always find a few pieces there that’ll be mistaken for something much more expensive.
Anything in particular you’re looking to pick up for summer?
Nothing specific. See, I will always shop, and that’s sort of a problem. Clothes are always exploding out of my closet! And here’s the thing that’s part of the problem: I have a friend who’s an expert shopper and plans out everything she’s going to buy in advance, whereas I’m much more of an impulse shopper. I don’t do research—I just go to a store and then it’s like, "Oops—I just spent a ton of money on something I may never wear."
Being a New Yorker, do you ever hit up sample sales?
I never do well at sample sales, because I buy things just because I’m excited that they’re cheap. I’ll buy something that’s mediocre just because it’s 50 percent off—and then you can never return it! I feel like I have clouded clarity when it comes to sample sales.
Any final words of fashion wisdom you can share?
Sometimes it’s actually the cheapest things you buy that you end up wearing the most.
For more on Lola Versus, click here.
Photo: Zoe Lister-Jones and Greta Gerwig in Lola Versus, courtesy of Fox Searchlight
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