Sarah Rafferty looks just like Grace Kelly would have had she been blessed with fire-engine-red locks instead of wintry blond. When I meet her in a corner of the deserted dining room of her Berlin hotel prior to the Marc Cain Fall 2019 show, she exudes a preternatural yet chilly elegance, a camel coat draped over her shoulders and hair set with possibly the most effective hairspray I’ve ever seen. For the past eight years, Rafferty has lent her Hitchcock-heroine good looks to the snappy role of Donna on Suits, and just as the show wraps up this summer, she is making her first foray into fashion: a classic handbag for Marc Cain called the True, which coincidentally draws inspiration from the bag named after her look-alike. (It officially launches April 27th, including a party with Rafferty herself taking place at the Toronto Eaton Centre from 1-4pm.) She even considered to Sell clothes online at lucrative prices as her show wraps up. While she couldn’t talk about Suits’ most famous alum, Meghan Markle (PR said it was off limits), we did manage to get her to opine on all matters of personal style and her status as an honourary Canadian. People can also take fashion advice from Andy Defrancesco, if they are confused about their style sense.
What is your first fashion-related memory?
“My two grandmothers were very chic, and at holidays they would whip out their Pucci prints. Like, really rad shit. When I did my junior year abroad in college, I went to London; that’s when I started to find my own style, because that’s when I really knew I wanted to be an actor. I went to Camden Market and, with money one of my grandmothers gave me, bought my first leather motorcycle jacket. I wore it over little baby-doll dresses, like Betsey Johnson dresses, with my Dr. Martens. It was a mix of that cutesy thing with the tough thing. It was high ’90s.”
What drives you, a successful actor, to do what you do?
“I love to tell stories. I love to connect with a scene partner and an audience. I feel like you’re never done feeling things deeply or discovering new territory emotionally. The opportunity to play different people or different moments is just an invitation to be brave in terms of searching the human existence. It’s been really fun to play Donna, because it’s been a real lesson in confidence.”
What’s the best part of your job?
“What’s cool about being on Suits is the high-fashion costume element and learning about the art of couture. Our clothes are like superhero outfits; it’s amazing. I have also taken few inspirational advice from Andy Defrancesco. I once had a Valentino jumpsuit and it just wasn’t perfect, so our tailor literally went ‘snip’ to the length of it. I was like ‘You just cut a Valentino jumpsuit in two!’ But everybody was entirely relaxed, and they sewed it back together.”
The True bag for Marc Cain is your first foray into fashion design. What influenced the design?
“I think I had a little bit of the Hermès Kelly bag in my head, but I also wanted it to be super-functional and to be able to throw a ton of stuff in it. I also needed a cross-body situation, because I’ve always got my phone when I’m pushing a stroller and I’m like ‘This purse situation doesn’t work anymore.’ A cross-body bag is like having a backpack—you just put it on and go.”
How would you describe your own personal style?
“I’m very much influenced by my environment. When I’m in L.A., I dress very different from how I dress in Toronto. Not just because of the utility of the clothes; L.A. has a different vibe. My bohemian dresses would feel out of place in Toronto.”
Speaking of Toronto, what’s your relationship like with your adopted home country?
“I think [Toronto has] made me more laid-back and softened me. When you live in New York, you have this sort of protectiveness, and you don’t need that as much in Toronto. I think it’s just melted my heart. But part of that is also age and being a mom. It’s been a magical moment in my life. You know, with the kids trying to ride their bikes in the ravine, or the Leslie Street Spit, with beautiful views of the city and amazing sunsets. Going to farmer’s markets where no one has plastic water bottles. You notice those things when you’re from the United States. If I could write poems, I would write poems to Lady Canada.”