Actress Mena Suvari is sharpening her photography skills, keeping it green, and accessorizing all in the same breath with her new collection of scarves in collaboration with the family-owned accessory and housewares design company Echo Designs. The scarves are digitally imprinted with replicas of Suvari's own photographs of trees taken during her travels around North America and 15 percent of sales will go to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Smack in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Fashion Week, I had the chance to catch up Suvari, in all her shaved-head glory, at the launch of her line at Bloomingdale's.
Whitney Spaner: Have you always been environmentally conscious?
Mena Suvari: Yeah I've always been very interested in the environment, very appreciative of the environment. Nature is something that I feel very connected to, that I feel very passionate about. Our forests and our beaches, these are places that I find solace in and it's important to preserve those.
WS: When did you get into photography?
MS: I think religiously, I've been doing it for maybe a few years now. One of my cousins gave me a Polaroid camera from the 1960s. It's called a square shooter so you don't have the typical white border on the bottom, The white border is even all around. I love taking that out and I started to experiment with that because the photos come out looking very vintage., I always have my digital camera with me.
WS: How did it happen that you decided to combine photographs with the scarves?
MS: I didn't expect this to turn out this way. I was originally going to be collaborating with [Echo] on the design and I was sending them photos because all of the designing was done over the phone and the Internet. This was the first time I met the [Echo Design] family so I was sending them images of what I thought would be cool, which were the trees. I really wanted [the design] to be trees because it was a set of three scarves and I figured if it was a set instead of just one I wanted there to be a theme. I've always felt very connected to trees. I've always felt like they are very symbolic of life. When [Echo] said, âwell, we really like the photos that you sent,â I went about doing more research and finding locations and purposefully taking images of trees to send to them -- so that's how it kind of all happened.
WS: Do you always have a camera on hand when you're on a movie set?
MS: I always carry my digital camera and any other cameras that I have because there are many moments that you want to keep frozen in time. And now I'll keep it with me for future designs! But definitely just to kind of keep a record.
WS: When did you take the plunge and shave your head?
MS: I just finished a film in Spain called The Garden of Eden and that's what this was for. It's based on a Hemingway novel and I play a character named Catherine who goes through many changes. The film is very much about change and transformation.
WS: Was it hard for you to cut your hair? You pull it off really well.
MS: I mean, I had always thought about it, about how it would be a very liberating experience, and that you should just do it once in your life, you know, and I feel likeâ¦ I believe in things happening at the right time, and for the right reasons, and so I feel like this project came about at the right time for me in many different ways. But I guess it was always something I was ready for. It was a commitment that I had made, you know, for the film, which taught me that it's just hair. But mine doesn't grow very fast so I'm a little apprehensive about the in-between stage which I'll be going through soon. My friends are like 'just wear a lot of hats!' Yeah, I'm going to be wearing a lot of scarves! To cover it up!
WS: Was fashion something you became interested in as an actress or did this interest develop before that?
MS: My mom used to say when I was little that I couldn't walk out of a store without buying something. She told me this story about this dress that I knew that I wanted when I was four! I knew what I wanted. So I've always been really into fashion. It's always something I've been passionate about and I'd expressed to publicists and whoever else and it was just the right time. Echo was interested in partnering up with someone and that's kind of how the ball got rolling. What's so amazing about this is that I've been given this opportunity to design something which has been so much fun and it's my own artwork and then even bigger than all of that -- fifteen percent of the proceeds are going to NRDC.
Mena Suvari's scarves by Echo Designs are available at Bloomingdale's and other select retailers, for $115 and $198 dependent on shape.