ĎHouse of Cardsí Kate Mara finally shows her hand as fashion star

June 22, 2015

Kate Mara attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art Met Gala in New York on May 4, 2015

LOS ANGELES: Despite appearing in "House of Cards," "127 Hours," "Brokeback Mountain" and dozens of other screen roles over the last 15 years, Kate Mara has always been an actress you donít quite recognize.

But with star billing as the Invisible Woman in the superhero film "Fantastic Four" (Aug. 7), sheís poised to become more visible than ever.

Before that, Mara, 32, received this yearís Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award at the Crystal + Lucy Awards in Los Angeles. Women in Film has been honoring women in the industry since 1977, with Italian fashion brand Max Mara as a partner for 13 years.∂

Dressing the part is Maraís job. On the red carpet, she and stylist Johnny Wujek gravitate toward classic pieces, but in real life, she calls her style tomboyish. Sheís as comfortable in Zara as Chanel. ∂

Over the years, she has attended events with Valentino and Miu Miu, and styled store windows for H&M. In February, she traveled to Milan, Italy, for the Max Mara fall 2015 fashion show and a photo shoot for the brandís magazine.

I caught up with her on the phone from Belfast, Northern Ireland ó where she is shooting the sci-fi thriller "Morgan" ó to talk about matters of style.

Do you have a first fashion memory or something you were really into wearing as a child?

I was very shy in middle school through high school. I dressed to disappear. Thatís also a reason why acting was so exciting. I was more comfortable putting on a costume and pretending I was someone else than showing who I actually was. So I flew under the radar and wasnít into wearing anything too loud. I had very long hair, and I didnít even want that to be showy, so I would wear it in a ponytail every day. That was a uniform to me, to not wear my hair down. But obviously, that changed. Once I graduated high school and realized you have to be more comfortable in your own skin to be an actor and to be vulnerable and put yourself out there and show that you can look like different characters. I realized that fashion is an incredible tool. And now I love it.

I know you went to the fall 2015 Max Mara runway show. What do you like about the label?

Itís such a classic, feminine brand ... but they are also doing a good job of evolving. The show was super. I know it was a throwback and Marilyn Monroe-inspired, but it also felt very current and young. I was so in love with the colors, which were a lot of pastels, but also this eggshell gray that I wore to the show. And the mix of super-feminine pencil skirts with flat oxfords and backpacks was the masculine-feminine thing, which Iím super attracted to.

How would you describe your personal style?

It depends on where I am in the world. I live in L.A., so typically it is really hot, and I will just put on a sundress and some sneakers because thatís the most comfortable thing to wear. That said, I tend to be a little bit of a tomboy, so I do that thing where I go back and forth between dressing feminine with a little bit of a male edge. But right now, in Belfast, Iím literally wearing all black every day to work. Itís that sweatpants look that isnít actually sweatpants. And a hoodie. And Iím fully comfortable owning that.

Have you and your sister (actress Rooney Mara) ever bought the same thing?

A few times. I forget we donít live in the same house, and my initial reaction is the older sister thing of, "Did you take that from my closet?" But we do like similar things.

What do you think about people dissecting your style online?

I donít go seeking it out but if youíre on Twitter, itís hard to avoid. Iíve been doing this long enough I donít let it affect me that much. But of course, Iím human. If people are loving something you are wearing, you are going to feel good about it. And if they hate it, itís going to make you feel, uh-oh.

Youíve been working with stylist Johnny Wujek for 10 years. What do you two consider when dressing for a red carpet event?

It depends. Usually heíll say, "What are you in the mood for?" If Iím feeling particularly girlie, he will say, "Letís go and see what Valentino has or letís see what Dior has," since those are more feminine looks. If Iím feeling more edgy, maybe itís Prada. Or sometimes we think about a theme we want to do for a press tour to make it more fun. And he always knows white is my favorite color to wear.

How were the Invisible Woman costumes? From the promo shots, it looks like a lot of leather.

Youíve probably seen our containment suits. Theyíre not leather. I donít know what itís called, but itís very stretchy and thicker than spandex. The only annoying thing was that to go to the restroom, you needed help, because there were three zippers just to make it look like there were none. But it was actually a very comfortable suit, and you didnít have to wear any sort of Spanx underneath.

Youíve done work for the Humane Society and Oceana. How did you become involved in those causes?

It all started with the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" (about killer whales in captivity). I was shooting a movie, and ("Blackfish") was on CNN and I watched it and was so moved that I was hunting down the directorís email immediately.

I thought about what I could do to help. So I reached out to a T-shirt designer friend of mine named Dana Veraldi, who has a line called DeerDana based in New York. She draws these awesome caricatures of people, animals and things like that. I thought maybe sheíd be interested in designing one of Tilly, the whale from "Blackfish, and giving the money to some sort of nonprofit. Thatís where it started. She designed the "Free Tilly" shirt, and I was connected to Oceana through Ted Danson, who is a friend and does a lot of work with that organization. Since then, Iíve become friends with Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the filmís director, and she introduced me to the Humane Society. But it all started with "Blackfish."



Associated Press