"Truth is stranger than fiction. That's a known thing for a reason," says Dakota Fanning. We are speaking a few days before the premiere of Last Looks, a series on Quibi that looks at real-life crimes in the fashion industry for which The Alienist star is both narrator and executive producer. (It is also produced by Refinery29.)
The show is made up of 18 episodes, with five(ish)-minute installations dedicated to covering the stories of six women. Subjects range from Anna Delvey, a faux heiress who swindled thousands of dollars from New York's upper class (while decked out in Celine and Alexander Wang), to Patrizia Reggiani, who went from being called "Lady Gucci" to "Black Widow" after being convicted of arranging to kill her ex-husband and Gucci fashion brand heir, Maurizio Gucci, in 1998. Their stories are told through recreations and by people familiar with each case.
“Even though the shows are quite short, I think that you do get a full picture of who these people are. It's not a one-dimensional look at each person, you really do get to see all sides,” says Fanning. “I think the show does its best to delve into their psyche and try to understand why they do the things that they do.”
The other stories include the tragic cases of Vicki Morgan, model and the mistress of Alfred S. Bloomingdale, heir to the Bloomingdale's fortune, who was murdered in 1983; Christa Worthington, a fashion writer who was killed in Cape Cod in 2002; Ruslana Korshunova, a Russian model who died by suicide in 2008 shortly after joining a cult; and Sylvie Cachay, an aspiring fashion designer murdered in 2010.
Below, we speak to Fanning about what led her to join the project, the current fascination with true crime, and the dark underside of fashion.
What attracted you to Last Looks?
It’s a space and a theme that I enjoy watching as a viewer, like true crime series and docuseries, that's something that I gravitate towards. So I was super excited by discovering the stories of people that I had maybe heard about and maybe some that I hadn't heard about, and interweaving that with the world of fashion. As I got to narrate and learn the stories, it was super fascinating. I loved learning about each subject.
Sounds weird to say that you enjoy true crime, but I'm fascinated by the darkness of it all.
What do you hope viewers take away from these stories?
I hope that they get to learn about them, [especially] the more tragic stories of women who lost their lives. I think getting to learn about their stories is honoring them in a way.
If you are a true crime fan, I think that you'll get a quick hit of these stories in that Quibi way, which makes it very easy to follow and easy to understand and super fast in this time where everyone is starting to get back into… I mean, we're not back into normal life, but we can go for a walk again. It won't take up too much of your time.
Was there one story that was particularly interesting for you to learn about or narrate?
I was saddened by a lot of them. There are definitely some tragedies that we explore.
The one that I was most familiar with was the Anna Delvey story. I lived in New York for almost eight years, and I've stayed at 11 Howard [the hotel Delvey lived in for a few months], and I'm very familiar with Anna's stomping grounds. I was very fascinated by her as a person and what she was able to get away with. I could picture that world very clearly because that was my world, too, for a bit.
What were the stories you were less familiar with?
I didn't know much about the Christa Worthington story and the many tragic aspects of that and how it's remained unsolved in a way. That one was one that I learned [a lot] about. I heard of the Patrizia Reggiani story, but getting to go through the play by play of that was also very fascinating. There were aspects of each of the stories that I didn't fully know. So I did get a full lesson going through and narrating each one and seeing the cuts of the show. And I think that the style of the show is very specific and new and not something that you see all the time.
I think you get the information in a very compact way, like a poppy burst, and you get a very clear picture of each story and of each woman in a very succinct way.
Aside from being real-life crimes that rocked the fashion world, what do all these stories have in common?
I think that, in their own way, each woman [featured] is extremely ambitious for better or for worse. I think that you see these women desiring to make their mark in some way. And so I think that's something that they all do have in common. I think some of them use their ambitious natures for good. And some, like we talked about Anna Delvey… can't say that she wasn't ambitious, right? She was very ambitious at all costs.
I think that you do get to see very strong women and see how they use that strength and use that desire all in different ways.
You've previously directed a fashion film for Miu Miu, and now narrated Last Looks. What is it about fashion stories that interest you?
I think that fashion is a world that is so enticing for so many reasons. There's a glamorous aspect. There is a luxurious aspect to fashion. And I'm lucky to have been able to be a little bit inside of that world and see that world. I think it's a subject that has a very rich history, and it's very glamorous. And I think people are fascinated by glamour.
I also think where there's light there's darkness, and where there's fun and frivolity there's also can be heavy tragedy. I think that these stories show that very clearly.
Do you like projects like this where you get to step behind the camera or the production?
Definitely. That's something that I'm actively doing and want to do more of. I've been acting for quite some time and obviously love, love doing that and have no plans of stopping, but I do want to make my own things and produce and get into that world even more. It's very fun to be involved from the ground up and to get to, like you said, be behind the production, behind the camera. It's something I've always thought was important. And so yes, definitely more to come.
Why do you think people are so interested in stories like this and true crime right now?
I think that people are ultimately just fascinated by people and what people are capable of. It’s almost like this weird fear of, Are you capable of something like that? We're all human beings, we're dealt different circumstances in our life that lead to different things. And I think, for me, I'm just fascinated by the psychology of people and why some go down such a crazy path. And, I think that people are endlessly interesting and endlessly entertaining.
I'm also admittedly fascinated by dark subject matter. And so I think that's a big thing for me. I wouldn't say that I'm a dark person, but I'm definitely fascinated by the more grisly aspect of what people do sometimes. Maybe because it's so far from who I am, I hope.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.