Friday 23 February 2018

Aisling O'Connor: How rebellious Emo-icon Kristen Stewart became Hollywood's highest paid actress

Kristen Stewart.
Kristen Stewart.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Kristen Stewart arrives at the Snow White & The Huntsman Australian Premiere at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction on June 19, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JUNE 03: Actors Kristen Stewart (L) and Chris Hemsworth speak onstage during the 2012 MTV Movie Awards held at Gibson Amphitheatre on June 3, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Covergirl for Vanity Fair in Armani Prive Couture

THE Hollywood movie machine routinely serves us up the same types of star: action hero; anti-hero; sex symbol; girl-next-door; diva. Most actors who achieve top ranking and roles fit into one or other of these stereotypes – Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez for example. But Tinseltown has a new breed of starlet, and Forbes this week has proclaimed the anti-icon, Kristen Stewart, as Hollywood’s highest paid actress.

Now 22, Kristen is still a spring chicken by A-list standards, but didn’t get there overnight. Born into a movie industry family, she got her first role for Disney at 9-years-old and continued to secure parts during her early teens alongside the likes of Meg Ryan and Sharon Stone – most prominently a co-starring role with Jodie Foster in ‘Panic Room’.

It’s when the modern Gothic came to the fore that Stewart became enveloped in the zeitgeist. The ‘Twilight’ vampire fantasy movies rocketed her to a level of fame most actors work a lifetime to achieve. The movie franchise’s leading lady became a reluctant celebrity – and seemed to do her damnest to avoid the trappings of fame.

Kristen’s critics often muse that although she presents herself as a shy star, unconcerned with looks, celebrity and fortune – she makes every cliché career move in the book, such as dating her equally famous co-star Robert Pattinson, signing on to model for a French fragrance, and negotiating a reported $12.5 million for the last two ‘Twilight’ movies.

The apparently rebellious star has always been somewhat of a style icon to a global army of Emo kids in her on-and-off duty uniform of distressed jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket, battered Converse plimsolls and permanent bed-head.

Over the years fashion watchers have been perpetually aghast at Kristen’s habit of accompanying cocktail dresses with Converse and giving little or no attention to hair and make-up for premieres and awards ceremonies.

The past year has revealed a change in Stewart’s styling. A contract with Paris couture house Balenciaga, as the face of their signature perfume, has either forced her into the world of fashion, or given her leave to transition out of the grubby runners.

Where she only dressed up to do press or red carpet for a movie, suddenly we were presented with a stiletto-heeled rock-chick at Paris Fashion Week sitting front row next to Anna Wintour and Salma Hayek, and rubbing shoulders with Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker at the VIP Louis Vuitton anniversary party.

In Paris and in the months that followed, the paparazzi had no problem snapping Kristen going to and from movie and fashion promotional engagements in her Converse, often capturing her slipping into her heels on the edge of the red carpet.

The fashion media were being courted by a girl who wore Christian Dior and Balenciaga couture on the red carpet, while her fans were treated to her giving the paparazzi and official press the middle finger. At this year’s Cannes Film Festival she literally did so, on two occasions.

The summer’s global press junket for ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ seems to show a girl trying very hard to look like she doesn’t care about fashion - wearing high end luxury apparel, with presentation almost devoid of polish; raggy hair, a ‘last night’s make-up’ look, and again the beaten up Converse worn to the tip of the press line.

Now one could take this to be a girl who isn’t that interested in her celebrity or fashion, but her cover story for July’s ‘Vanity Fair’ would say otherwise. Kristen posed as a French aristocrat’s rebellious daughter in an editorial for legendary fashion photographer Mario Testino in and spoke in her interview of her dedication to looking off-kilter on the red carpet: ‘ I’m proud of it. If I took perfect pictures all the time, the people standing in the room with me, or on the carpet, would think, What an actress! What a faker!’.

So she kind of admits that her seemingly effortless, laissez-faire style is contrived, in the sense of not wanting to seem ‘fake’. In her interview with VF she called out critics of her style as, ‘voracious, starving sh*t eaters who want to turn truth into sh*t’. Combined with the disrespectful body language in Cannes, this was not a good move.

Stewart looks awkward at press events these days, smiling nervously, presumably under orders from studio executives to deflate the media attention from her former perma-scowl and public bird-flipping.

Most successful actresses of Kristen’s age play the game. They wear the dress, they bear the discomfort of the shoes from limo to door, they do the glossy hair and the flawless face. Does it make her more interesting and genuine that she resists the norm, or does her behaviour smart of immaturity and possibly a contrived persona?

This past weekend Kristen attended the wedding of film producer Kevin Turen and Evelina Oboza with her on/off screen beau Pattinson and allegedly ‘forgot’ her dress. According to reports, she borrowed a dress from the groom’s sister and then directly changed into a pair of jeans and a sheer top for the reception.

Take this in - an A-list actress, who has made $35 million dollars since May 2011, did not have a dress she would be prepared to wear for more than an hour expedited to New Jersey so she wouldn’t wear denim to a friend’s wedding. Maybe it’s a 22-year-old thing, and the Emo kids love it.

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