She first wore an outfit by Ms. Hearst at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and the two soon struck up a friendship. For the Met Gala last May, Ms. Dern not only wore a peekaboo navy column dress by Ms. Hearst, but also invited the designer along as her date.
Removing her wrap, Ms. Dern headed for the racks of clothes, beelining for a black belted dress made of wool from Ms. Hearst’s ranch in Uruguay. Ms. Dern ran a hand over it, relishing a sheer panel. “Every texture is thrilling,” she said. “This is what happens when women work together, when women are designing for women.”
The choice of black was no accident. In response to the reckoning of sexual misconduct throughout Hollywood, Ms. Dern is among the 300 women, including famous actors, producers and directors, who formed a movement called Time’s Up. Along with other things, the group is asking that women wear black on the red carpet to raise awareness.
“This is a beautiful opportunity,” she said firmly. She has also been working with the group to help victims of sexual misconduct navigate the awards season. “They don’t need to be on the red carpet at an awards event talking about their personal assault or harassment,” she said. “Let’s talk about women.”
But even anxious moments call for beautiful clothes, and Ms. Dern doesn’t apologize for embracing fashion. “It’s the most beautiful art form,” she said.” I’ve always loved it, so I’ve never felt trite about it.”
“I’m so lucky that I have these beautiful friends, brilliant actresses — Isabella Rossellini, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts — these are great artists,” she said. “And, oh my God, if you hear us talk about fashion. We are obsessed.”
After setting the belted wool dress aside, Ms. Dern sifted through four racks of clothing and paged through the spring look book, picking out pieces that she wanted pulled. It felt more like a shopping spree on Net-a-Porter than a cliffhanger on “The Rachel Zoe Project.”
At one point, Ms. Dern even pushed into the back room, where prototypes and leftovers are kept. “I am very embarrassed to show you this mess right now,” Ms. Hearst said. But Ms. Dern didn’t seem to mind.
Every piece seemed…