Rose In Bloom: Interview with Rose Byrne

FASHION magazine

Rose Byrne needs to enter shopping rehab. “I have so many clothes it’s ridiculous!” exclaims the beautiful 29-year-old Australian actress who stars as Glenn Close’s exceptionally well-dressed nemesis on the award-winning TV series Damages. It’s a frigid winter day in Manhattan, and Rose and I are on our way to Opening Ceremony, New York’s one-stop-shopping center for the kind of cool indie designers that Rose favors. Like her lawyer character Ellen, Rose is whip smart and articulate, and her sense of style reflects her intelligence. No frilly minis and oversized sunglasses for her—instead you’re likely to see her in clean but subtly conceptual clothes, such as the simple and slightly architectural Calvin Klein gowns she favors for the red carpet. (She’s also Francisco Costa’s actress du jour and was his date for the CFDA awards.)

Being a gorgeous and talented starlet may seem like a fantasy existence, but Rose seems intent on keeping it real. She almost manages to convince me that her life is pretty ordinary —she claims she doesn’t go to cocktail parties much—however, she’s facing a real-world problem that most of us can relate to; she’s trying to downsize her sartorial spending this year. “I only use about 30% of my clothes!” she says regretfully. So our shopping trip ends up being a very sensible exercise. Welcome to Rose Byrne’s guide to Less is More shopping:

1. Run, don’t walk!

Since New York City has a spotty public transportation system, its inhabitants spend a lot of time on foot. “Since I moved to NYC I have never shopped so much in my life, I think it’s because I’m walking around more and pass shops that are really nice,” Rose reflects, “I live near the Marc Jacobs store, which is deadly, and I try to avoid it, but occasionally I’ll get sucked in”.  She now tries to walk by briskly, which is also good exercise.

1. Unplug your computer.

So what do actresses when they’re slow at work? Same thing you do, they look up their favorite online stores. “In between takes I’ll start trawling through the Internet,” confesses Rose, “It’s dreadful! And it’s only gotten worse since Topshop went online. That’s my staple, I have Top Shop clothes that I’ve worn for 10 years.” Another temptation is the sales section of Net A Porter , which Rose seems to be able to recite by heart:  “Black Dries van Noten blazer, amazing, used to be $1200 and now it’s reduced to $300, which is a total f-ing bargain!” Luckily, she only has one more week before Damages wraps, which means a lot less down time in the trailer.

1. Know your style.

As we walk around Opening Ceremony, Rose patiently goes through every rack while squealing “Mmm!” and “Cute!” appreciatively at whimsical Tsumori Chisati dresses and Vivienne Westwood rubber shoes. But it’s the sleeker garments with interesting details, such as a black fine-spun knit sweater with white dress shirt sleeves from Hiromi Tsuyoshi, that really attracts her. “I’ve been wearing a lot of black lately, black turtle necks and black fitted dresses. You can’t go wrong with that,” she says wisely.

1. Wait for the sales.

“I love Chloe,” says Rose, “But it’s really expensive.” However, she will splurge if there’s a sale. Case in point: the gorgeous wedge shoes with lots of strappy buckles that she’s wearing. “I bought them on sale at Barneys two years ago. They were reduced from $600 to $200,” she recalls. “Finding bargains definitely helps me justify my purchases.” In fact, she avoids things that are seriously pricey. She decides to try on a black short-sleeved shift dress with broken glass beading by Marios Schwab, but insists that the 50% price reduction is the deciding factor. “I would never look at it for $3000 [the original price],” she says.

5.Try it on, then walk away.

Rose picks out two items to try on, the aforementioned Marios Schwab dress and a sequined top with a cape detail by Kate Moss for Top Shop. The dress has a slightly awkward cut and is passed over. The top however, she’s clearly smitten with. “I think it’s so pretty, I’m just worried I won’t wear it,” she frets. Instead of making a rash decision she decides to mull it over. “If I really want something I’ll think about it for the rest of the day and then I’ll come back later,” she says.

6. Beg for freebies (this may not apply to non-starlets).

Rose is very involved in the wardrobe choices for her Damages character. “We’re in a real dialogue. If don’t like something I’ll tell them straight away,” she says. She cites her character’s wardrobe, (which looks better suited for the Condé Nast building than City Hall) as a fashion inspiration in real life. “This season she has a real armor about her, she wears beautiful Bottega Veneta, Narciso Rodriguez and Givenchy dresses, she’s very sophisticated and all about not being vulnerable and I love that,” she says. It’s not surprising then that she works hard on the wardrobe people to give her the costumes. “I beg them and they say no. And then I beg some more and they say no. And then I beg some more and they say yes,” she laughs.

1. And if all else fails, be generous.

If, in spite of all your attempted restraint, you still end up with superfluous clothing, there’s a great way to make it useful again.  “I usually give things away to my girlfriends or people at work,” says Rose. “All my friends have my hand-me-downs so when I see them and they’re usually wearing something of mine.” She even posts garments to her friends in London and Australia, where she’s from. “It’s the least I can do. Everyone’s so broke and it’s always nice getting a little package in the mail,” she says. Sounds like the ultimate-less-is more solution.