InStyle: Your mother is from New York, your father from Berlin. Do you speak German?
Gillian: (In German) Yes, of course! I’m half German. But I have a lot to learn.
InStyle: So I guess you’ve been to Germany a lot?
Gillian: Oh yes! Berlin is my absolute favorite city in the world. My younger brother Max only just moved back to the States from Berlin. We used to go there a lot. Nowadays I unfortunately don’t have the time to go.
InStyle: You grew up in New York.
Gillian: Yes. But I see Berlin today, as I imagine a New York back in the 70ties and 80ties. The art scene there is unbelievably inspiring. Everyone seems to enjoy expressing themselves in their very own, unique way. I wish to have a small apartment in Berlin one day, just so I can spend more time there.
InStyle: On 90210 you play surfer girl Ivy. Were you a fan of the original series?
Gillian: Oh yes, totally! Even though my parents forbid me to watch it. I was a little bit too young.
InStyle: Do you have any impact on the outfits you wear on the show?
Gillian:Yes , a lot actually! We have a great costume designer, Kime Buzzelli. She is the one who organizes the most amazing clothes you could ever imagine – but never afford. From her selection of clothes I can create the outfits myself.
InStyle: It’s mostly your private style that is being copied worldwide.
Gillian: I always feel very honored that I’m getting that much positive feedback. My style is just me expressing my personality. There is no concept behind it. But that’s part of the fun. Many women are taking their styling too seriously and putting too much effort in it, just to fit in the image society expects from them.
InStyle: You like to wear no-name labels just as designers and vintage.
Gillian: Yes, but I have to say my passion is second hand fashion. I like the idea of recycling fashion. I used to always go through my mum’s closet. I use these basics and worn clothes to create looks which I combine with stuff I have to invest in. They last forever.
InStyle: What do you think you have to invest in?
Gillian: In a perfectly fitting leather jacket. You have it you’re entire life.
InStyle: You seem to be able to always look sexy but never cheap or fake . What’s your secret?
Gillian: You can only be sexy if you beat to the rhythm of your own drum. Or it always seems fake. Mostly, people dress sexy to impress others. I dress just for myself. And I only wear what I feel comfortable in. If I’m going to a red carpet event and I’m wearing a long, elegant dress I normally break it with something completely opposite, e.g. my grandfather’s bowler hat. If I’m wearing a tight, short dress I combine it with biker boots. For me, elegance and sex appeal don’t work without confidence. Even if that means biker boots and Converse on the red carpet.
InStyle: …Or a hat that you seem to wear quite often at events.
Gillian: Hats are somewhat of protection for me. They’re like a security blanket. If I’m on the red carpet, it is still not a normal or totally comfortable situation for me. Even though it is a lot of fun. I then normally put on one of my vintage hats , or, my grand-dad’s and I feel safe. Just like being all cuddled up in a blanket.
InStyle: What is that one piece in your closet that you cannot spare?
Gillian: My Doc Martens from the nineties. They’ll never be out of style for me. I’ve got quite a few pairs but my favorite are the ones with flower print and in dark green. Doc Martens are forever cool.
InStyle: Coachella is almost here. What are you bringing?
Gillian: Definitely old, worn jeans shorts, an old band shirt, bright red lipstick, Ray Bans and my Polaroid cam.
InStyle: Who is accompanying you?
Gillian: Just my boyfriend ( Luke Grimes) and my brother. I’m a light traveler. (laughs)
InStyle: You three in a camping bus?
Gillian: If I’d be going all privately I would. I’m living with them at the moment, too, so we’re used to do almost everything together. But at Coachella I’m hosting a party with ‘Planet Blue’ and ‘Foam’ magazine. And they kindly booked a hotel for us.
InStyle: Camping isn’t for everyone, I guess.
Gillian: I love it! My boyfriend has an Airstream, you know, this silver trailer and we spend the weekends with it in Topanga Canyon. The Airstream is only 18 ft long and like 9 ft wide and you could think it’s hell on wheels. But the truth is, it’s the exact opposite. It’s incredibly liberating. And it makes you realize how little space and comfort you actually need.
InStyle: Where have you met Luke?
Gillian:In L.A. at a red light and crazy traffic. That was true fate. Our first date was in the desert.
InStyle: Red lights, rendezvous in the desert – sounds very Hollywood.
Gillian: L.A. is such a surreal, artificial city, so I figured the desert is the perfect place to get to know someone. You have no choice than to expose yourself. You just shake off the business and all clichés. Especially with my job it is great to get to know someone away from the industry, in all loneliness. Then there’s no one there except for that person and yourself.
InStyle: Is it more difficult to find real friend in a city like L.A.?
Gillian: I have a very small but close group of friends, they’re very grounded, wonderful people. In Los Angeles, everything is so far apart and so insanely focused on the business that you have to value the little free time you get. That is why you are basically being forced to look closer at who you want to spend this time with and who not. I spend a lot of time on set, so I enjoy just being by myself when I’m off. Or of course my boyfriend, my close friends or my brother.
InStyle: Is your brother an actor, too?
Gillian: No, he’s an interior designer. He’s an absolute phenomenon! And of everyone else my favorite person in the world. He might be two years younger than me but mentally he’s much older. He protects me.
InStyle: And your friends, are they also in the business?
Gillian: Jessica Stroup just moved in across from me. She’s the only cast member I see a lot off set. The rest of my friends are mostly artists.
InStyle: Years ago, there were talks about Young Hollywood , a clique including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie and Mischa Barton. You seem to live a completely different private life.
Gillian: Oh yes, I’m far away from that. I’m just no Hollywood kid. I purposely chose to live by the beach in Venice. I don’t really go out a lot and go crazy. I enjoy my small, peaceful neighborhood. It is a very simple, chilled lifestyle, very quiet. I am by the beach, I go swimming. You run errands by bike or just walk. The social scene is way less crazy than the one in Hollywood, which I definitely prefer.
InStyle: Do you sometimes get homesick for NYC?
Gillian: I miss the beat of the city. New York has its very own pulse that you’re never going to find anywhere else. The energy, the people – everything is just really rough and in constant motion. Every time I go back I still find it very refreshing and inspiring, but right now , for me, I’m finding my life here in L.A. way healthier. New York is like an ex-boyfriend that you visit from time to time and share some nice moments with. But the next day you’re glad to have left him because everything is just better without him.
InStyle: Speaking of healthy life style: Especially in Hollywood everyone is focusing on being skinny. You recently told People Mag that you would like to put on a few pounds. How does that fit?
Gillian: That’s what they wrote? (laughs) Well, I’ve always been kind of thin. But more and more I’m coming to the point where I learn to appreciate my feminine charms. It would be nice to put on a little weight and be more chill in general. I definitely don’t think that being skinny equals being sexy.
InStyle: Still it is size zero that reigns over Hollywood.
Gillian: Yeah, probably. But I just don’t think that actors have to look like runway models. Models have to look like models, you put clothes on them. For us actors, it is more important to look like normal human beings, because who and what we play should be relatable for normal people.
InStyle: And they rarely have the ideal body.
Gillian: It’s probably human nature to want what you can’t have. But at the end of the day I feel quite comfortable in my skin.
InStyle: And what helps if you don’t?
Gillian: Bright red lip stick and my worn-out Converse. And my lucky charms.
InStyle: And those are…
Gillian: A necklace with a pendant from my boyfriend and my parents’ wedding ring.
InStyle: YOU are wearing your parents’ wedding ring?
Gillian: They bought many small rings in Bali back then which they use as wedding rings. When I moved away, they gave me on of them. It’s my mojo, I never take it off.
Thanks a lot to Sway for magazine scans & email@example.com for translated interview!
Gallery Link: x8 | InStyle Germany – May 2012