Exclusive Interview! ‘The Vampire Diaries” Kat Graham Talks About Her Favorite Designers And Heavy Metal Personal Style

Soooooooo, there’s no way you could read our site and not know who Kat Graham is, right? No, wait, that sounds smug and off-putting. *Reeeeeeewiiiiind* What we mean is, ZOMG PLEASE PLEASE CHECK OUT THIS GIRL WE ARE WICKED OBSESSED WITH BECAUSE SHE IS BASICALLY THE BEST. The thing is, some of us were GINORMOUS fans of her music (Chrissy has a disturbing effigy and miniature alter built on her desk), others of us are die-hard followers of her show on the CW network (Sophia), The Vampire Diaries (Thursdays, 8/7c), and still others (me) were largely unaware of anything other than how consistently crazy her shoe/hair/dress/epaulette/ bustier/chainmail/necklaces-that-weigh-20-pounds game was.

Then, we got the chance to talk to her and, well, basically, we are girl-crushing a combined 9283749237498237427384787387428374788 percent harder. Gaby got obsessed while transcribing the million-page interview mwahahahaha. ANYWAY. It’s insane. So check out the below and read about how we slobbered all over her in an unbecoming manner but how it was so totally worth it since she is incredible. OH, and not to be weird BUT she was born in Geneva, raised in L.A., and is not a double threat as much as she is a QUADRUPLE one (singer, dancer, model, actress BOOM). But she also speaks FIVE languages. So, yeah, there’s that. And she’s hilarious. And rad. *Sighs throws petals at her feet that she tramples on in DYNAMITE boots*

Kat Graham wearing The Blonds on location filming her “I Want It All” music video in San Bernardino, California, on March 6.
Photo: Getty Images

Let’s talk about The Vampire Diaries. We’re HUGE fans, but we definitely see differences between your character Bonnie’s style and your personal style. We’re not bugging, right? Do you find it frustrating at all?

Kat Graham: [Laughs] “No, I think it’s awesome that the wardrobe department has specific ideas for each character. For mine, they went for a very earthy, hippie, embroidered shirts, loafers, natural curly hair, and I love that I’m part of a character that has a defined style. It’s great to see actors dress like a character instead of like themselves. It’s funny, on set, in those clothes, everyone calls me Bonnie. And then, when I’m dressed as myself with some torn tights and leopard shorts or something insane, they know that that’s Kat.”

A cast photo of Kat Graham for ’The Vampire Diaries,’ and Kat Graham as Bonnie in a still from ’The Vampire Diaries’ Season 2, Episode 10.
Photo: Andrew Eccles/Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

Right, so there’s like a dichotomy at play. It probably helps to be totally immersed, considering the fact you’re involved in a show errs on the side of supernatural or surreal.

“Oh totally, because I think it’s one of the hardest things to do. You have to react to things that aren’t there, you’re pretending that some vampire is ripping your neck out or throwing a guy against a wall but it’s all green screen so you have to get totally into it. Not that I’m saying that me as Kat Graham wouldn’t throw a guy against the wall.”

So you have three discrete situations: You have Bonnie, you have Kat as like the actress on the red carpet, and then you have the addition of your music persona that is kind of like a larger, hyper version of you.

“Yeah! You know music is my biggest thing. It’s me, 100 percent like me but on fire.”

A still from Kat Graham’s music video for ’I Want It All.’
Photo: Perezcious Records

With, like, lasers and diamonds and unicorns and tons of metal.

“Yeah, all of that. It’s important for me to just be myself—in fashion. A lot of people overlook that side of me because they’re scared of it, but that’s just who I am. Even my little sister, who’s 16 now. She’s in high school, and she wears what she wants, and it’s cool that she does that, you know? She’ll wear crazy, fringy stuff, and that’s who she is. She’s like me in that way—and people respect her for it.”

I do love that you’re unafraid to wear unknown designers or smaller sportswear lines like Dimepiece.

“Right, well Dimepiece—and I just want to give my girl Laura Fama a shout-out because we’ve been friends since I was 17—Laura would be making clothes and would say “try this one on! And this! And that!” So my repping Dimepiece is mostly me representing her as a fashion designer. I have a lot of friends who are in fashion and I like to rep them.”

Kat Graham wearing Dimepiece at ’Us Weekly”s 2011 Hot Hollywood Party in Hollywood on April 26, 2011, and wearing Jeremy Scott at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards in Universal City, California, on Aug. 8, 2010.

So you’re heavily involved in what you’ll wear.

“Of course, I work with Brett Alan, who’s an amazing stylist, but I’ll send him the laundry list like, ’These are my favorite designers, these are the people I live for, and I want to wear them.’ ”

Name some of the laundry list.

“I love Manish Arora. I don’t even want to say what I would do for a Manish Arora dress. I can’t even… I love Raphael Young shoes and I also really love Jeremy Scott. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, The Blonds.”

Looks from Manish Arora’s Fall/Winter 2011 Collection.
Photo: Style.com

You consistently wear The Blonds for your videos. Like, the “I Want It All” video is essentially a commercial since it all looks utterly fabulous. You LUH them.

“I do! They’re friends of mine, I’ve known about them for years and just been such a huge fan of theirs forever. Everything I wore was The Blonds—spiked corsets, chain corset—they’re incredible. I really love bustiers and corsets and things that border on the Barbarella line and domination. I love anything that makes you feel empowered. I’m ’bout that, you can’t be scared.”

A still from Kat Graham’s music video for ’I Want It All.’
Photo: Perezcious Records

Gasoline Glamour is another one of those boutique, bespoke, lines that you’re known for wearing. I’d frankly never heard of them until you started wearing them, and when I visited their site, my mind exploded all over my keyboard.

“The shoes from that same video were Gasoline Glamour. Shannon is the designer, and she makes shoes and jewelry and whatever sculptural pieces at home and sells them. I had an assistant. I don’t anymore, but at the time I had an assistant who would help me with my fashion pulls and he came across this one line and I looked at it and it was everything I loved: spikes, diamonds, and just huge chunky jewelry, because I’m not much of a jewelry person, to be honest. Like, I don’t wear jewelry unless it really makes a statement.”

Kat Graham in a pair of custom Gasoline Glamour boots for the August 2010 issue of ’944’ magazine’s Miami edition.
Photo: 944

The shoes were amazing. How were you wearing 1.3 million pounds of metal and climbing over a mountain of postapocalyptic tube television sets?

“OMG, yes! I don’t think those shoes were meant to walk in. On set I was walking on all these crazy surfaces, and of course I totally bit it.”

Well, right. So at least we know you’re human. Any other designers you’d like to add to the list?

“I LOVE Cassette Playa and for people who don’t know who she is, she kind of started out designing shirts for M.I.A. and she took this whole alien hipster neon look and she just really took it to the moon.”

Yeah, Carri’s great. Highly atypical choice for a young actress type, though, right?

“I think what’s kind of a blessing and a curse with my job is that I play to such a mainstream audience. I think my character is truly accepted by America, but I feel like my style and my own personal sense of fashion is a little more fine-tuned and specific. I’m not always accepted for it. I get a lot of backlash for wearing designers that I feel are creators and artists. I get it all the time.”

Yeah. You don’t exactly smack of that “courtesy of the gifting suite” vibe that you get from some thespian ladies.

“People automatically assume that because you’re an actor, you’re a blank canvas 24/7. But I can’t wear what everyone else wears. If I went to an audition, I’d wear what the character would wear, but the moment I’m done with the audition or done filming, I go back into my high-waisteds.”

It’s surprising to me that you have a stylist at all. It must be a somewhat unorthodox relationship.

“Brett reached out to my manager, and my manager said, ’Well, Kat dresses herself, she’s not interested blablabla,’ because I’d never worked with anyone before who not only knew fashion, but who knew designers, who knew pieces from archives, and who knew their stuff. But then I met Brett, and he did. He’s young, too. Only 23.”

Whoa. So he’s one of those.

“He’s one of those, he’s a prodigy. Brett knows my style to a T. He knows my favorite designers, he knows the pieces I look at, and since I’m here for the summer I want to do something different. I don’t want to just do red carpet. I want to have a ’black summer’ because I’m feeling black and dark colors for the summer. Change it up a bit.”

A Victorian summer, then.


Kat Graham attending the ’Something Borrowed’ Los Angeles premiere in Hollywood on May 3 and at the Belvedere ’RED’ special edition bottle benefit launch party in Hollywood on Feb. 10.
Photo: Getty Images

And what do you plan on doing, draped in black all summer?

“I’m traveling a lot and doing appearances for Vampire Diaries and doing shows and my film that I did last summer, Honey 2, finally comes out theatrically in Europe. Just promoting that and staying busy and staying fashion-forward and trying not to have too many darts fly at me, you know?”

Well, you certainly have a specific aesthetic. Do you have any plans on starting your own fashion line or anything to that effect?

“I’m just not that talented. I know what I like, but when you’re a designer I feel like you have to be able to produce products that can serve different people. I don’t have the kind of style that I feel like would serve any and everyone. But I’m really into ear cuffs, like cuffs that cover your entire ear? I’m considering making some for my fans and for myself, but we’ll see. I’m not Gwen.”

You do love a statement bauble.

“Yeah! And I’ve now learned that if you’re going to wear a crazy huge piece on your neck, make sure that the dress is very simple. If you’re gonna wear a very tiny rock with spikes on it, make sure that the dress has its own personality. So you know, I’m still learning about shapes and what to do on the bottom and what to do on the top and how your hair can affect the look of something. I’m really into the high bun right now. I have been for a while, but I haven’t been able to do it on my hair because the show had me wear my hair a certain way. I’m really into the tight pulled-up bun. I think that always looks fashionable.”

A still from Kat Graham’s music video for ’I Want It All.’
Photo: Perezcious Records

You know what? I’m really feeling high bun, plus blunt bang. That looks fantastic on you right now.

“Yeah, I’m really into the thick, thick bang but who knows how long I’ll keep it.”

You obviously love dramatic lines. Like, you skew architectural, both in your accessories and shoes.

“It’s all about, if you’re big on the top, you can’t be big on the bottom. And I’m learning about shoes and which shoes elongate your legs, and the different kinds of booties that cut them off since I’m short. I’m only 5’4″, so I’m VERY aware of that.”

Kat Graham at the Samsung Infuse 4G launch event featuring Nicki Minaj in Los Angeles on May 12 and at the 14th annual ’Friends ’N’ Family’ Grammy event in Hollywood on Feb. 11.
Photo: Getty Images

You DO elongate effectively. I had no idea you were that petite.

“Well, the MTV Style reader should know Giuseppe Zanotti shoes. Everyone should know what a Giuseppe Zanotti patent leather wedge looks like. If you don’t know the blade heel, you should know what that is. Definitely go educate yourself.”

And what becomes of those who know but can’t EVER afford Giuseppe Zanotti heels?

Report Signature has some amazing shoes, and I rep them so hard-core.”

Good platforms.

“And Alexander McQueen always has some really incredible ones especially for summer and fall. I love metal. Anything with a metal tip.”

You realize we totally went from Report right back to McQueen.

[Laughs] “Well, Jessica Simpson has some great shoes. But I’ll live in Zanottis, and I’ll live in Raphael Young.”

I think if you’re living in those shoes, you’re doing it right.

“Yeah, if that’s all you own, you’re fine.” [Laughs]