Last week, at a venue tucked just above Sunset Boulevard, I arrived at the Hollywood premiere of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The series, a fresh reboot of ’90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, lands on Netflix October 26 and promises to be darker—more chilling, if you will—than the original Melissa Joan Hart show. Many say it’s poised to be the next cult teen drama, masterminded by the executive producers of The CW’s Riverdale and sharing a similarly complex storyline and macabre tone. At the L.A. premiere, though, the scene was all smiles.
As the cast arrived on the red carpet, you could sense the excitement. Kiernan Shipka, who plays the lead role of Sabrina Spellman, stepped out confidently in shimmery burgundy eye shadow, pointed black Mary Jane heels, and a black-and-oxblood Elie Saab dress that matched the colors decorating the room to a T. In front of a row of flashing cameras, she and her tightknit castmates couldn’t help but beam with enthusiasm about the new series, gushing about everything from the spells they wished they could use IRL to how personally empowering it has been to film a show with so many talented women. In one of the most touching moments on the red carpet, Shipka snuck over to hug co-star Ross Lynch—a gesture that speaks to the cast’s bond.
Riverdale stars also turned up in support of the upcoming series, including Madelaine Petsch, who rocketed to fame after her show’s success. Like the casts of previous Netflix hits Stranger Things or Queer Eye, who’ve found overnight stardom, Shipka is poised to be a big name. As she explained to our sister site Byrdie, when it comes to an explosive new hit, she’s “ready for it” but remains humble at the thought of the show’s future success and her imminent rise in profile.
Ahead of the premiere, we had a chance to chat with Shipka, who weighed in on Chilling Adventures and how her focus on fashion has changed since she started working on the show. “I love Sabrina’s style, but it’s very different from mine,” Shipka explained. “There are two types of people in the world: people who wake up and get ready and people who don’t. I’m of the latter.” While Sabrina Spellman takes the time to put together a full look each morning, Shipka admitted, she would rather concentrate on working hard right now.
“I actually do enjoy getting ready,” she elaborated, “but I’m in a season of my life where that is really not the case.” After her run on AMC’s Mad Men, she took time off to focus on growing herself personally, learning to “practice self-love and self-compassion, and make a lot of mistakes,” she said. Now that she’s filming again, though, Shipka is throwing 100% of herself into the project at hand.
She promised that she does appreciate fashion, though. “I used to be into really putting together an outfit every day,” she admitted. “Gossip Girl was my vibe.” In fact, she told me some of her most vivid fashion memories are linked to her time growing up. In a twist of fate, 2000s style is having a moment this season, so many of those same trends are top of mind for the young actress again now.
In fact, the piece she most wants to wear this fall is an iconic 2000s fashion item that she grew up in. “I had at least four Juicy Couture tracksuits as a young child,” she said, and she’s ready to bring them back. Her love for fashion goes beyond throwback pieces, though. “Style is a wonderful form of self-expression,” she explained, and it’s something she enjoys exploring for herself—that is, when she isn’t on set paving her way to becoming the next small-screen superstar.
Editor’s Note: For our very special September Issue, Kiernan Shipka got to experience an anything-but-typical trip of a lifetime to explore the Chanel flower fields during the yearly, three-week May rose harvest. There, Kiernan learned exactly what goes into the iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance (which was created by Coco Chanel herself in 1921) and the new No. 5 L’Eau, which mixes jaunty hints of citrus with the house’s signature rose de mai.
A few weeks later, it’s clear the trip left a lasting impression on the starlet, who can be seen next on the big screen in The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Our time in the fields and Coco Chanel’s sensibilities proved so inspiring to the actress that she was compelled to open up in the essay below about her current relationship with fashion, feminism, and femininity and why they can beautifully coexist.
Coco Chanel once said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” I recently learned more about the iconic designer, who made her make rebelling against gender norms of her time, on a dream-come-true trip earlier this summer to France. I toured Coco’s apartment in Paris and also visited the rose fields of Grasse, the birthplace of Chanel No. 5. It was an expedition that changed the way I thought about the designer and her brand. I think I even changed a bit after learning so much about such a complex person and spending time in such a spectacular place.
Similar to Coco, I’ve never been someone who has thought fashion and feminism are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they work together in a lovely, empowering way. For me, feminism is about being who you want and having the freedom of choice. As long as you have that, you should be able to dress however you like, whether it means ultrafeminine, supertomboyish, or something else entirely.
I was 6 when I started playing Sally Draper on Mad Men. I feel incredibly lucky that my first major role was someone with a lot of depth and growth, and that I was surrounded by people who treated me like a peer. For nearly eight years, I portrayed a very complicated and realized character, and there’s no question that being Sally (who is much cooler than me, by the way) has influenced my being in so many ways.
I grew up on a set surrounded by strong actresses, as fearless in real life as the roles they played, not to mention so many female writers, directors, and crew members. That was my acting school. It raised the bar for me — and influenced me. Having worked with forces of nature like Janie Bryant, Leslie Linka Glatter, and January Jones, I found my environment was so celebratory of women that it became natural for me to be myself and not live according to any standards that held me back.
I recently reached a stage in my style when I decided I was just going to really go for it. What people think no longer matters to me. I just want to enjoy myself. This mindset has made me so excited about fashion and so excited about taking risks. I’m having more fun than ever with how I dress, and I’m learning so much about my personal aesthetic along the way. I’m known for wearing a lot of feminine dresses, but lately I’ve been really into pants and how great they feel to wear (I think Coco, who made trousers more socially acceptable on women, would approve!). They’re easier to dance in, and I never know when I’m going to bust a move. Whatever the occasion, if I find a cool pair, you can count on me to be wearing them. Even if there is no dress, there can still be a woman.