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Jane Krakowski has a gift for playing lovable narcissists; for proof, look no further than her Emmy-nominated roles as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock and Jacqueline Vorhees on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But while she may share Jenna’s musical theater background and Jacqueline’s appreciation for Hermès, that’s pretty much where the off-camera (say it: “cah-meh-rah”) similarities end — especially when it comes to the holidays.
Despite being a superfan of Christmas and all it entails (making her the perfect host for last week’s Tree Lighting Skate-tacular at the Bank of America Winter Village in New York City), Jane would rather spend her time sourcing thoughtful presents for friends and family than receiving them herself. When asked what’s on her own wish list this year, she admits, “I never ask for things, because I wouldn’t want to put pressure on people.” (Jenna Maroney would never.)
That’s not to say the actress doesn’t love to treat herself, though. While she may not own dozens of Birkins like her Unbreakable alter ego, Jane’s amassed quite the Mansur Gavriel collection and could spot a Net-a-Porter delivery van from a mile away. More on her shopping habits and gift-giving secrets below — plus, the scoop on the iconic Ally McBeal prop that now resides proudly in her home.
Tell me about your all-time favorite fashion splurge.
A few years ago, I was invited to this private Hermès shopping event, and I didn’t quite know what to do. Like, I wasn’t sure if they’d let me out of the store without buying anything!
In the end, though, I wound up getting this beautiful classic black clutch — and I’m so happy I did, because it’s now my go-to bag whenever I’m going out. It’s actually one of the smarter shopping choices I’ve made, because it’ll never go out of style and will definitely stand the test of time. It’s quite practical, and I’m not always the most practical shopper!
Any shopping weaknesses?
Lately, it’s been Mansur Gavriel bags. I feel like I discovered them on the earlier side; I think they were only in one or two stores at the time. I got one of the big shopping totes, and since then… I mean, this sounds crazy, but I have at least 15 of them now, with all the different colored interiors. I’m that person who matches her bag to what she’s wearing — a little nerdy, I know!
Mansur does great shoes, too...
Oh, the high-heeled platform slip-ons are my go-to summer shoes! I get them in black and nude so they match the outside of all my bags. Oh lord, this interview’s making me realize I’m a little too matchy-matchy. [Laughs]
On a somewhat related note — any fashion regrets from your past? Trends you wish you’d skipped?
Leggings as pants. I used to wear them constantly, but I wound up gaining weight because they’ve just got so much give, so I had no idea it was happening. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need a waistband to keep me in check.
Where’s your absolute favorite place to shop?
I am hopelessly devoted to Net-a-Porter. I probably do 99 percent of my shopping there. I could spend the whole day just looking through the new arrivals — and I love that live scrolling thing at the bottom of the page that shows you what people are buying right now in Brazil, in Egypt, in England, all the places they serve.
I’ve just fallen completely for the convenience. Like, I can get it by 6 p.m.? Great, I’ll wear it tonight! I know all their deliverymen by now. But I knew I really had a problem when Net-a-Porter sent me a Christmas gift. I’d never received a gift from a store before, so when that happened, I was like, oh god, I must really be a big spender!
How about beauty? Any products you swear by?
If you could swap closets with any of the characters you’ve played, who would you choose and why?
Easiest question! It’d be Jacqueline from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, who has the most high-end wardrobe I’ve ever seen. I remember when I first met with Tina [Fey] about the role — I already knew it’d be an incredible part, obviously, because she was the one writing it and I loved the whole concept of the show — she said, “Your wardrobe is going to be amazing.”
They don’t fake it, either: In one single costume, I’ll be wearing a Fendi coat with Dolce & Gabbana leather pants or a J. Mendel dress. The price tag for one of Jacqueline’s outfits is just mind-boggling. It’s so fun not only to wear those clothes, but also to play someone who’s so into clothes. And Tina Nigro, our incredible costume designer, does a great job of heightening the fashion slightly for comedic effect; like, it’s always just a little too much. Jacqueline doesn’t understand high-low; it’s all high!
How many Birkins do you think Jacqueline actually owns?
She’s got an entire closet full of them. As soon as Jacqueline stumbled on hard times after her divorce — you know, with the $12 million settlement she couldn’t possibly survive on — my first question was, “Couldn’t she just sell the Birkins?” But she’s all about appearances; she’d definitely get some sort of secret nighttime job in order to keep them. The Birkins would never go.
Is there anything you’ve asked to keep from a show’s wardrobe?
Well, the first thing I ever asked to keep was the Face Bra from Ally McBeal. My character was a legal secretary who happened to be an inventor on the side, and she created this thing called the Face Bra that you could wear while exercising to prevent sagging. It’s the most unattractive thing in the world — I looked like Hannibal Lecter while I was wearing it — but it was a signature piece of my character’s, and the one and only thing I asked to keep.
Also, last season on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, there’s a scene where Jacqueline is struggling to put on a pair of tiny Louboutins; if you look at the shoebox, the size reads “Rich Child 4.” They actually made this perfect miniature Louboutin pump just for the scene! I begged them to keep it afterward, and now it’s on display in my apartment.
You have a lot of holiday projects coming up! First this tree lighting, and then you’re in A Christmas Story Live! with Matthew Broderick and Maya Rudolph...
I just love the holidays! Especially in New York — there’s nothing like it. I love going to the tree lighting, going ice skating, going up and down Fifth Avenue to see all the store windows. I love those traditions.
Actually, I think the last thing I bought was Christmas pajamas. My son and I get matching ones from Roberta Roller Rabbit every year in a new print. They’re kind of pricey, but they’re the softest pajamas in the entire world and last forever, which I think makes them pretty cost-effective.
Any tips or tricks for buying great gifts?
I’m big into personalized presents. Anything monogrammed is always good, even if it means you have to order it earlier than you usually would. Like, a few years ago, I became obsessed with Joshua Sanders’s slip-on sneakers — and for a short time, they had this promotion going where you could personalize them, so I got everyone a pair with their initials on them. It was a little awkward, though, because it meant I had to figure out everyone’s shoe sizes. [There was a lot of me asking,] “Ooh, I love your shoes — what size are they?!”
And then last year, I found these amazing bags from a brand called Rue de Verneuil that you can personalize. I thought I wouldn’t be able to get them in time for Christmas, but the designer happened to be coming to New York for the holidays himself — I know, this is the part where I start to sound like Jacqueline — so he hand-delivered them to me! It was so incredibly thoughtful and special.
That’s amazing! Have you picked this year’s personalized gift yet?
I have — but of course I can’t tell you what it is yet!
Oh, duh. No spoilers! Okay, so for A Christmas Story Live!, do you have any costume changes between scenes? Those always look really stressful to me.
I do have an extremely quick change — I think it’s 30 seconds for a total head-to-toe outfit change. We haven’t rehearsed it yet, and I think we only get two chances to practice it beforehand. Hopefully there’ll be no wardrobe malfunctions! Our costume designer, the genius William Ivey Long, actually wanted to squeeze in a hairstyle change too, but I was like, “Look, let’s just get the clothes part down!”
He did the Grease Live! costumes too though, right? I feel like you’re in the best possible hands.
Exactly. We have quite a few of those moments, where characters will be changing in seconds. It’s pretty exhilarating, and I’m excited to see how it works out for everyone — including me!
This interview has been edited and condensed. A Christmas Story Live! airs Sunday, December 17th at 7 p.m. EST on Fox.