Gilt Chat: Rose McGowan on AmfAR, Edgar Allen Poe, and Polyester Pants

Rose McGowan is definitely a Gilt.com kind of girl: A driven actress (The Black Dahlia, Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse, and the upcoming Lifetime pic The Pastor’s Wife, to name a few) with a fearless fashion sense, she also uses her celebrity for good, working with amfAR to raise AIDS awareness. To coincide with her appearance in the newest amfAR PSAs, McGowan is curating a sale with Gilt.com. In addition to the gorgeous dresses and glam accessories Rose picked for her sale, we’ve also got an array of great items from amfAR chairman Kenneth Cole, and, as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus, Gilt.com will also be selling ribbons Cole designed to benefit amfAR and the MTV charity Staying Alive (visit awearness.com). We got the chance to chat with McGowan about her involvement with the project, her fabulous fashion sense and her latest film roles, and it’s no exaggeration to say we all have a serious girl crush on her now. Read on, and we’re sure you will too!

Q: So how did you first get involved with Amfar?
I’ve gone to their events for probably, gee, almost seven years, mostly in Cannes. I think it’s an incredibly important and still very timely organization. A friend of mine was just diagnosed three weeks ago so, you know…the need for aid and awareness doesn’t stop. I think Kenneth Cole is amazing for doing this, and you guys are too; it’s a fantastic tie-in with Amfar. It’s a great marriage. I think regardless of whether you buy Kenneth’s clothing or not, it’s amazing the work he’s done for this cause.

Q: Why is it so important to educate young people about AIDS right now?
I think it’s particularly important because so many people these days believe you can just pop a pill and have the whole thing be done with, and that’s simply not the case. It’s a totally radical change in somebody’s life and lifestyle. Everything in their life has changed. I keep reading that the infection rates are just going up higher and higher. It’s really scaring people in London—I was just reading about that the other day—and the situation’s gotten kind of intense. I think it’s a very timely issue and I think it’s really important to be proactive on that front.

Q: You wore a Tom Ford tux to the big amfAR gala recently, right? It looked amazing!
I’ve been feeling menswear lately. It makes me feel more powerful in a way. I love my evening gowns, obviously—I have a closet that’s only for evening gowns—but there’s something powerful about a tux. I feel like I have a bit more attitude, a bit more swagger, I’ll put it that way. Instead of the pretty, eye-candy thing. I feel strong; I like it. It suits my personality.

Q: How would you describe your style?
It’s a really tough question, but I think ‘Classic with a twist’ would be accurate. I think people think I’m much more eccentric than I am. You know, if you look at the things I’ve worn, it’s all pretty classical but there’s a bit of an edge to it—it has personality, a sense of self. I’m definitely a mood dresser: Today I might feel like a man. Tomorrow I may feel like a lady. It depends. I’m not someone who wears all black just to play it safe and to not be put down.

Q: Generally speaking, what do you think makes a woman stylish?
Trusting her own personality and not caring what other people think.

Q: You’ve bared a lot of skin on-screen in the past; were you self-conscious?
That’s what was so great about this [new] movie, The Pastor’s Wife. I was basically wearing fashion birth control the entire time. It was hilarious. But it was really interesting playing this part, because she was basically the invisible woman. Someone you’d walk by and never notice. That’s pretty cool. And it was very weird for me, because positively or negatively I’m used to being reacted to. It was really interested to adopt the clothing and posture of this woman. No makeup—but I wasn’t trying play ugly. I was trying to play invisible. For lunch, I’d walk down to the store and most of the time no one even noticed me enough to give me service. It was really interesting. The really cool thing about acting is that sometimes you’re your own sociological experiment. And it was. It was bizarre being invisible!

Q: Did it feel like a big shift to do such an intimate story after appearing in so big, splashy films like Grindhouse and Conan?
It’s really more because of the script; it was one of the best I’d read in a really long time. And I was like, I can knock this out of the park. And I did love that I wouldn’t be baring any skin at all—in fact I was desexualizing myself as much as humanly possible. Except for one scene where her husband makes her dress up like a hooker. I’d been wearing these totally flat shoes from Walmart for all of filming, and the crew always made fun of me because I was walking like a duck. I couldn’t figure out how to walk in them. And then the second I put on the stripper heels, it was like—Sashay!

Q: That’s amazing. What have you been working on since then?
I also just wrapped shooting on The Tell-Tale Heart in New Orleans, which was truly amazing. I read the short story when I was four—a little early for Poe, I guess. It gave me nightmares. It’s funny, I could read when I was four but nobody taught me how to tie my shoes until I was 9. A little backward, I suppose. There’s no female in the story, but the way they integrated this character into the adaptation—it’s just magical. It’s a magical script and it was a magical experience. It was a blessing. I’m shocked that nobody’s done it before, and glad they haven’t.

Q: It’s such a great story. So, what’s next?
I am about to leave to go do a movie in Napa Valley called Napa. It’s about a woman who’s done two tours of duty in Afghanistan and somehow accidentally finds herself being a small-town sheriff in Napa. It’s kind of a murder mystery set in the wineries. I might just be drunk through it all. Kidding!

Q: I don’t imagine the clothes will be very fun on that one.
Yeah. Polyester. It’s tough. I had to play a cop once before and I was like, ‘Go get me some Theory pants, because this is not working for me!’ I can do polyester on the top, but not on the bottom. I can’t be fully flammable; I have my limits! But also the pants are cut really high, but not in a cute, high-waisted flattering way. Your butt ends up looking ten feet tall.

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