Chloë Sevigny is Not the Coolest Girl in the World

From a February 10, 2017 profile of Chloë in the New York Times Magazine:

It’s difficult to fathom how, exactly, this quaint Connecticut upbringing gave rise to the downtown It Girl and eventual indie actress the novelist Jay McInerney dubbed, in a now-infamous 1994 New Yorker profile, “the coolest girl in the world.”

As “now-infamous” suggests, that descriptor of Sevigny caught on. It haunts Downtown culture, is echoed club-side in mixtures of envy and admiration. April 10 2017, Nylon: We’re now 23 years into Sevigny’s Condé-sanctioned reign as “the coolest girl in the world.” Except McInerney, nor the Condé Nast-funded New Yorker, never bestowed that title upon her. Here’s the original 1994 piece, alleged quotation nowhere in site.

Instead, the descriptor appears to have first been used by Eric Wilson in a July 1 2011 profile of Sevigny in adulthood. Here it’s placed without quotations; Wilson appears merely to be summarizing McInerney’s piece. When the line appears again in the February New York Times Magazine piece, it’s in quotes and sans hyperlink to the original; the implied source is McInerney rather than Wilson. The erroneous citation has led to widespread journalistic misattribution, with writers and editors clearly confused as to the quote’s provenance (but enamored with slipping it into copy):

Coveteur, May 19 2017As if we haven’t read (and re-read) the infamous New Yorker profile on her, where she was dubbed “the coolest girl in the world” in 1991. (Obviously, “we” haven’t read and re-read the profile very closely.)

Vulture, April 3 2018Once infamously described as “the coolest girl in the world,” Sevigny confesses that these days, she’s just making sure everyone still remembers she’s around. (The hyperlink damns.)

Fashionista, May 2 2018Chloë Sevigny has been an indie culture mainstay since the ’90s, when she was being declared “the coolest girl in the world” by the New Yorker and starring in films like “Kids.” (We would expect nothing less from a publication that places film titles in quotation marks.)

And most regrettably, The Guardian, May 6 2018It is more than 20 years since Sevigny was anointed “the coolest girl in the world” by Jay McInerney in his New Yorker profile, a piece that now reads like the slightly doddery engagement of a middle-aged man with youth culture.

Attributions of the quote to McInerney after NYT Mag‘s initial February ’17 misattribution are understandable. They make the mistake only of taking a New York Times journalist (and her editors) at their words. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of poor GQJune 25 2015in 1994, Jay McIerny [sic] called her the “coolest girl in the world” — the humiliating triple error.


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