Madelyn Cline Talks Tattoos, Embracing Freckles, and Attending Her First CFDA Awards

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It’s tough to talk to an actress when she can’t talk about being an actress.

That was the bind for Madelyn Cline at the CFDA Awards last night, at least at first. For the uninitiated, Cline is best known for her hit TV show, Outer Banks, and her hit movie, Knives Out: Glass Onion. She is excellent in both—watching her onscreen often prompts a “wait, who is that?” because she’s so good—but thanks to the SAG-AFTRA strike, the 25-year-old isn’t permitted to discuss either of her performances. (Maybe she could talk about her ex-boyfriend Chase Stokes, who was also kicking around the awards in a Teddy Vonranson suit, or her current rumored relationship with Pete Davidson, who unfortunately wasn’t in attendance.)

Thankfully, Cline is also a bit of a fashion geek. A former child model (“for the American Girl catalog!” she laughs), she climbed through the milestone American Eagle contract before pairing with Stella McCartney and Versace; this summer, she became a Tommy Hilfiger ambassador, then hit the front row at Givenchy and Rabanne in Paris.

Plus, Cline has a smart alliance with stylist Mimi Cuttrell, making her part of a fashion pack that includes Gigi Hadid and Ariana Grande. Together, they dreamed up a jewel-encrusted Oscar de la Renta gown by designer Fernando Garcia that honored American fashion and Cline’s penchant for super-sparkly glamour.

Here’s what Cline had to say about her whirlwind year on the fashion scene, her current tattoo situation, and maybe her next big role.

madelyn cline at the 2023 cfda fashion awards held at the american museum of natural history on november 6, 2023 in new york, new york photo by nina westerveltwwd via getty images

Madelyn Cline in Oscar de la Renta.

Nina Westervelt//Getty Images

This is your first CFDA Awards. What’s your favorite thing about American fashion right now?

It has such a great range, right? We have denim, which is so American. We have things like this Oscar de la Renta dress, which is, you know, very glamorous and a little over the top. There’s no one way to do it.

What’s the last thing you bought from an American designer?

Givenchy sunglasses.

Isn’t that French?

But [Matthew Williamson] is American!

You’re right! How long can you hold onto a pair of sunglasses?

You know, I’m not really great about that. I mean, I love them. I hold onto them for a few weeks. And then I forget their whereabouts, or really what happens is, I end up sitting on them. But they were fun for a couple of weeks!

It seems that the more intricate your outfit is, the more simple your makeup is.

True.

What made you decide to embrace your freckles?

Honestly? Probably since I realized they were just a part of my face and not sun damage, or something I did “wrong,” you know? They’re not wrong! They’re just how I look, so I started just embracing them.

On TikTok, there are videos solely dedicated to your tattoos, especially the heart on your neck. Any plans for more?

I think I have five or six total—my neck, and then I have a couple of finger tattoos. I do plan on getting more. I’m gonna fill out my hands a little bit. Not too much—not to fully cover them or anything—but I do want to make my tattoos look intentional. Because a few of them were definitely drunk tattoos with my friends. So, I love them, but I want them to look…you know, not drunk.

Who are you excited to meet tonight?

Honestly, everyone. But on the red carpet, I just saw Quinta Brunson, and I am dying to meet her. I am a very big fan of hers, and I would love to talk to her. I got very excited when I realized she was here.

Your social media presence is huge. Do you ever Google yourself or read the comments?

I definitely read the comments, in a “curiosity killed the cat” way. I know it’s bad, but I just can’t stop myself. Usually I regret it, but a lot of times, I will say, people are incredibly nice. That’s what keeps me coming back, honestly. I’m like, “Wow, you guys are super fun, super kind.” So many people out there are genuine and great.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Headshot of Faran Krentcil

Faran Krentcil is a fashion journalist and critic based in New York City. She is the founding editor of Fashionista and a graduate of Duke University. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, and more.

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