It was hard to navigate this September’s New York Fashion Week without encountering a shock of red hair, either on the runway or wading through the packed parties and flooded streets. The bob in question belongs to model and actor Hari Nef, who has quickly cemented herself as a name to know in the worlds of fashion and film.
Prior to the fashion maelstrom, Nef was spending her summer on Fire Island with friends, enjoying the summer heat and listening to Troye Sivan’s thumping hit, “Rush.” For CULTURED’s September cover story, she called up Sivan, a longtime friend, to talk about navigating such notoriously fickle industries. “The same thing that keeps me captivated by fashion keeps me captivated by cinema and live performance,” she shared. “It’s not about the clothes—it’s about the person in the clothes. Not her name, or where she’s from, or what she looks like, but the way she moves in them, talks in them; the way they change her posture.”
She also invited photographic duo Torso Solutions up to her Fire Island enclave for a shoot on a rainy pier, and for the magazine’s ongoing series, 5 Points of Culture, Nef shared the touchpoints that keep her inspired. The list includes drag performers (who Nef contends are “slept on”), a Hamlet production by the Wooster Group featuring live actors and compiled clips from past film adaptations, the artwork of her good friend Ser Serpas, and the writing of Mary Gaitskill, who Nef notes, “writes ambivalence and lust and cruelty and alienation in a way that feels specifically, pungently feminist.”
The actor also spotlights the film Portrait of Jason, a documentary film by Shirley Clarke in which a small crew crowds into a Chelsea Hotel room to interview houseboy and cabaret performer Jason Holliday. “It kind of shatters the divide between narrative film and documentary film,” says Nef. “It essentially takes this really heinous, mean-spirited, certainly racist and homophobic attack on this person who has just recounted their story and circumstances, and he basically hijacks the hijack and turns it into his show. It’s one of my favorite movies for that reason. It’s so fabulous and wicked.”