On a balmy California spring morning last week, the legendary Hollywood actor Andie MacDowell and her daughter Rainey Qualley—the latter also known under her stage name as a musician, Rainsford—found themselves reunited following MacDowell’s return from a seven-month shoot in Canada. Unlike most mother-daughter meet-ups after a stint apart, however, the circumstances for MacDowell and Qualley were a little more glamorous: posing in the garden of a luxurious private home in the Hollywood Hills wearing gowns and heels selected from racks of Coach’s finest threads, and shooting a Mother’s Day campaign for the American house with photographer Alessandro Simonetti.
“I’ve actually been stalking Coach on Instagram for a while, and I leave comments when I see something I like,” says MacDowell, whose enduring love for fashion stretches all the way back to her early career as a model for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Bill Blass in the 1980s. “Especially because, like everybody else, during Covid things have been kind of quiet. I’m at home, I live alone, so I like to look at fashion. With Coach, it was something I looked at as an older woman, and I was like, ‘I know this design, but there’s a twist to it.’ I thought it was charming yet still age-appropriate.”
Qualley too is a fully paid-up fan of the brand, having attended a number of their shows in the past, and noting her love for the pieces at the more whimsical end of the spectrum. “We just finished hair and make-up and we’re about to get dressed,” says Qualley. “We’re on location at this beautiful mid-century house with a pool. The sun is shining, it’s an incredible setting. We’ve got some gorgeous clothes that we’re going to be putting on. Is this really our job?” Adds MacDowell, laughing: “My girls and I have always enjoyed fashion together.” And what better way to enjoy it than this?
Taking a break from their shoot, MacDowell and Qualley here share the story behind their unbreakable mother-daughter bond, the experience of shooting the campaign together, and the surprising changes lockdown has imposed on their approach to style.
How has the experience of getting dressed up to the nines again been today?
Qualley: Dude, I have turned into a complete slob. I wear sweatpants and Crocs every day. It’s a nightmare. I cannot wait to get dressed up. I look forward to nothing more than getting invited to something where I have to be coaxed into wearing something other than the trash that I wear in my apartment. Very emphatically, yes.
MacDowell: Rainey and I are real homebodies. We have a new appreciation for any kind of social interaction because before, we would not always be super excited about going out all the time. Now, we’re both apologizing for our past lack of gratitude for just the opportunity to get to see people. We’re slightly introverted, but we’re both really excited to be extroverts. It’s a transformation in how you perceive things. A greater sense of gratitude, and recognizing what it means to be social, and just to have the opportunity to be with people.
Qualley: Never again will I perceive a party as a burden! But fashion, to me, is a form of self-care. It’s a form of respecting and valuing yourself.
What have you been grateful for within your relationship as mother and daughter over the past year?
Qualley: Mom has been gone for the past few months, so we haven’t actually been together all that much, but we’ve been in touch constantly on the phone, FaceTime and texting. Regardless of where we are, we can still take care of one another and be there for one another. I’m always able to depend on my mom, and rely on her to make me feel safe and comforted. That’s been special, to be able to work on staying connected when we can’t actually be together.
MacDowell: She’s been a great resource for me, because I spend so much time alone and Covid has been very isolating. Even though I was working, we didn’t really get to communicate because we were so busy. It’s hard to be by yourself all the time, and Rainey understood that. She’s really considerate and kind and recognizes my loneliness and knew how important it was to call me. A lot of kids don’t call you. My son…
Qualley: Don’t come for him! [laughs]
MacDowell: You’re my dependable.
Qualley: Okay, but they’re great too! Mom, you love all your children equally.
MacDowell: I love all my children equally, but you’re more dependable. Sorry, they know that! Rainey is the soft and generous one in the family, for all of us. It’s the truth.
How does your style compare and differ as mother and daughter?
Qualley: I’ve definitely been inspired by my mother’s taste and in some ways we’re drawn to similar clothes, architecture, and art. But in general, the things that I wear are a little bit sassier.
MacDowell: She can be a little more sexual than me.
Qualley: Oh my god, mom!
MacDowell: It’s true. Maybe I mean provocative. I can’t pull that stuff off. I can’t do that! I’d look like an idiot at my age.
Qualley: Regardless of sexuality and sex appeal, I’m drawn to stuff that’s a little bit more funky. Lots of vibrant colours and vintage.
MacDowell: I’m inspired by you. I make the effort, you make me cooler.
Qualley: That’s another thing we like to do, I actually love helping my mom fit out her closet. I’m a neat freak and hyper-organized, and I love going through and getting rid of stuff that I don’t wear or use in my house. I like to have the bare minimum. So it feels very satisfying to help my mother clean out her home and her closet.
Are there any pieces in particular you like to borrow from your mom’s wardrobe?
Qualley: We’re all very generous with one another and willing to share. The biggest loss to me is that my feet are too small for my mom’s shoes. My sister’s feet are too big for my mom’s shoes. I cannot tell you how incredible her shoe collection is.
MacDowell: I have nice shoes, it’s true.
Andie, how has your approach to fashion changed over the years, from your classic red carpet looks to what you look for in an outfit today?
MacDowell: A few years ago, I was making some comments on what I thought was appropriate, but then I kind of wanted to take it back, because I don’t think we necessarily need to pass judgment on choices that you make as you get older. I had said something about dropping the length of your dress, but it depends on the person. I just really enjoy fashion, and it something my girls and I have always enjoyed together. When the girls were tiny we used to do something we would call getting ‘gussied up’ and go out. We would go to dinner in North Carolina, when we were tiny and growing up. Fashion is fun, inspiring, and creative. It’s a great way to just enjoy yourself.
What were some of the highlights from today’s shoot?
Qualley: I was so happy to find out that one of my good friends Mark is the stylist for today, so he came over to our place yesterday. We’ve worked together a lot, so he knows what I like. There are definitely some pieces I’m most excited to be wearing, like a pair of cute leather shorts later.
MacDowell: What’s cracking me up is how many leather shorts I’ve texted to you and told you that you would look cute in.
Qualley: See, you encourage me to wear stuff that’s revealing, and then you scold me! [laughs]
MacDowell: I’m glad you can dress like that. I wish I had worn little black shorts like that when I was your age. I didn’t do it enough. She’s got fabulous legs. They brought me some pretty dresses which are very much my style. It’s funny that they brought me this baby blue raincoat, because I’m obsessed with raincoats, there’s something super chic about them. I think my love for them might be left over from wearing the raincoat in Four Weddings And A Funeral.
How are you planning to celebrate Mother’s Day this year?
Qualley: Neither of us are completely sure where we’ll be, or what kind of jobs we’re going to have on Mother’s Day, so it’s hard to make concrete plans. We love to go on a hike or go to flea markets, or I’ll send my mom flowers. Earlier, I was reminiscing with her about how much I enjoy just sitting with her while she takes a bath.
MacDowell: We’ve done that since they were little.
Qualley: Just having that chance to unwind and connect, more than anything, taking the time to do special little things that don’t seem like going out of your way. Letting them occur naturally.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.