"I’m a huge David Bowie fan,” says Tessa Thompson. “I loved the way he would dress to feel a certain way.” As Thompson has trotted around the red car- pets of the globe promoting her latest film, Creed, the actress has discreetly become (like the late, great Ziggy Stardust progenitor) a fashion chameleon who’s managed the trickiest of sartorial transitions—from splashy, sparkling Marc Jacobs to simple, effortless Adam Lippes, and back to frothy, gilded Valentino—with aplomb. “I want to feel like myself,” she says, “but when you’re on the red carpet, you’re sort of an extension of yourself.”
When she first started out (particularly on the promotional tour for Dear White People), Thompson preferred to dress herself. It was when she be- gan working with a stylist that she became a deep-fashion convert. “I was charmed by the daring and the bold, and on print and color!” she says. With two films slated for 2016, she’ll have ample opportunity to experiment even more. And fittingly, she has—like countless rising stars before her—gravitated toward whimsical Rodarte. “I love how intricate, interesting, and otherworldly their designs are,” she says.
When she’s not navigating massive premieres, she adopts a cool-girl uniform. Many of her everyday items—a leather moto jacket from the eighties, a pair of vintage Céline boots—are much-beloved items she would probably sleep in if she could (“I haven’t been able to take them off !”). Others are hand-me-downs from parents chic enough to have had the foresight to save their best pieces. “My parents are both inspirations to me,” she says. (To wit: She’s made off with her mom’s Levi’s and her dad’s purple velvet high-waisted bell-bot- toms.) It’s this combination—a little Bowie, a little glam, a little retro— that’s made her one of the most win- some starlets to watch.