‘Acting,’ Dakota Fanning recently said, ‘is all I have ever known.’ Now 23, she is already a veteran of the film business, having worked on films almost continuously for the past 17 years.
Since her debut as Sean Penn’s seven-year-old daughter in I Am Sam (2001), she has worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise (playing Cruise’s daughter in War of the Worlds), starred in the Twilight saga, and last year won critical praise for her performance in Ewan McGregor’s adaptation of the Philip Roth novel American Pastoral.
Her films have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, but Dakota herself has remained out of the gossip columns – crediting her parents for keeping her level-headed in an industry that is strewn with the wreckage of former child stars.
Born in Georgia, her family moved to LA when she was six, where she was based until she moved to New York to study at NYU in between films. Her younger sister Elle has also found acting fame, most recently starring opposite Annette Bening in 20th Century Women.
We’ll be seeing a lot of Dakota in coming months: first in the dark, epic Western Brimstone, followed by the hugely anticipated Ocean’s Eight, with Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett. Perhaps most exciting of all, she is working with her close friend Kirsten Dunst on an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar, which she will produce and star in, and Dunst will direct.
Of course, almost as impressive as her IMDB page is her fashion track record, which has seen Dakota developing a signature romantic and feminine – yet fashion-forward – style. ‘I am more traditional than not, but I also like to surprise people,’ she explains.
In this exclusive diary, Dakota talks us through her style highlights. What is your earliest fashion memory? I remember clomping around in my aunt’s heels while visiting her in Miami. I was probably around two years old, and insisted on wearing them absolutely everywhere during the entire trip.
The I Am Sam premiere was my first film, therefore my first premiere, and I wore a satin champagne-coloured dress with capped sleeves. I had a purse that was black patent and shaped like a present, which I thought was very chic. I am sure I still have it somewhere.
Recently I wore a Miu Miu dress to the Venice Film Festival [for the Brimstone premiere]. It looked like a mermaid’s tail, and it was truly my dream dress. I felt absolutely magical in it and taking it off was really hard… That dress, combined with such a glamorous location, made it a very special moment for me.
I don’t know if I can, actually. It really changes all the time. I try to throw something unexpected into my wardrobe just to keep people on their toes.
I’m more a flats girl when I am in New York, as there is so much walking involved when you live in the city. There is a pristine white Jimmy Choo sneaker that I adore. Very practical, and I love a slightly dirty white sneaker so I wouldn’t mind if the city stuck to them after a while. But, that being said, I love heels – especially chunky platforms. I’m obsessed with a beautiful strappy Jimmy Choo heel with metallic purples and greens [see previous page]. The straps are like the vines of the flower that has unfolded across the toes. This photo shoot is themed on nature. Are you much of an outdoors person? I would question anyone who said that nature was not important to them! One of my favourite places I have ever been is Tulum, Mexico. There are the most beautiful beaches, as well as jungles that are transfixing.
It depends on what happened on Saturday night, ha ha! Sunday is always a downtime day for me. Whether friends come over for dinner or I have some alone time, there is never anything major on the agenda.
I have been lucky to have worked with so many talented and deeply good people thus far in my career. So I think I have a supportive network for sure. As for being a role model, I try to live my life in a way that I can be proud of and that my family and friends can be proud of.
I’m about to do a television series [historical crime drama The Alienist, also starring Luke Evans] for the first time, and I could not be more excited. It is such an incredible opportunity to be able to develop a character over a long period of time. As for working in the theatre, that is something I have yet to do, but absolutely want to. I know that it will be a challenge unlike any other, and I’m very excited for that.
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