For Winter Ave Zoli, fashion is a matter of instinct, stemming from genetics. The daughter of industry entrepreneurs, her parents owned a pair of designer boutiques by the name of Zoli (complete with signature clothing line) before the family eventually moved from New Hope, Pennsylvania to the Czech Republic, their native home. “My mother’s sense of style and love of fashion and design totally rubbed off on me,” says the actress of growing up in the business.
Between spending her youth in Prague, after her hop across the pond, and famously playing the tenacious Lyla Winston on Sons of Anarchy for six seasons, it’s fitting the 35-year-old actress should prefer a personal style she describes as “bohemian biker.”
Beautifully feminine with a distinct edge to its accents, Zoli’s fashion sensibility suits the personality of her most recent character, Detective Gabriella Laska of TNT’s Legends. Cast opposite Sean Bean (who plays show lead, Martin Odum, FBI agent and chameleon ace), the story’s shift between 2001 and present day, sees Zoli’s Detective Gabriella evolve from the rough and tumble field to earnest motherhood. “Gabi is a strong woman. In 2001, she’s definitely a woman in a man’s world [while working] in her profession,” explains the actress. “Under it all [though] is a sensitive, empathetic woman.”
Understanding that “of course, no one has [only] one dimension,” Zoli takes pride in playing out the evolving complexity of her character’s internal motivations. “I have fun playing the young, tough, rebellious spirit of Gabi, and the present day mature mother, who has a softer approach to life,” she shares.
With the second season of Legends, as well as the series itself (TNT recently announced it will not be renewing the show for a third season), coming to end this month on December 28th, we took a moment to catch up with Zoli to talk about her time on the show, her Czech roots and her secret to creating legendary style.
For this new season, the show has gone through a complete reimagining of the original concept. Does it almost feel like you’re a part of the first season of a show, rather than the second?
It does feel like we shot a first season. With an almost entirely new cast and concept, it basically is a new show. That was the intention!
What plotline has been most exciting to explore, and where does your character fit into the story?
Well, there is the obviously intriguing story line of Martin Odum and slowly piecing together who he is. As far as the smaller story lines, I think discovering Curtis Ballard and his relationship to Gabi is exciting. It slowly unfolds throughout the season.
What’s it like working opposite Sean Bean? He seems like an intense and dedicated actor.
Working with Sean was a bit daunting at first, but, after meeting him, I realized he is an extremely humble actor—a real ensemble player. He is intense, in the sense that he is dedicated to his craft and his work. He is lovely!
Were you excited to have a chance to go back to Prague, where you grew up, to film Legends?
Absolutely! I was really happy to be able to be in Prague for an extended period of time. It’s home for me, and I truly feel a connection to the culture and the city. I have some roots planted in Prague that is for sure.
What do you miss most about Prague while living in L.A?
I think I miss that slower, European lifestyle. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly that is. It’s still a bustling city, but it’s just different. It’s the presence of a region’s history. Prague has a very special energy. One of my favorite things to do is walk around the city, during the fall/winter at night and hang out at historical cafés, where Kafka and Einstein were regulars. It’s one of the most enchanting things you’ll ever do, in my opinion.
Let’s move on to fashion. Your choice in red carpet fashion is impeccable! Using three adjectives, how would you describe your personal style?
First of all, thank you! It’s definitely a fun thing to do…planning my red carpet outfits. I never knew how exactly to define my style, until my publicist nailed it: bohemian biker! (Laughing.) That roughly translates to boho with a tough edge…less flowery and hippy. To add a third adjective, I would be a classic, bohemian biker. Sounds ridiculous, but it works in my head!
No, it makes sense! You once said in an interview, that if you were not an actress, you would likely work in the fashion industry. What draws you to this world?
I just love the idea of fashion as an expression—a story. When I dress up, I’ve developed a character in my head. Obviously, costumes have always been essential to the development of my characters! I think any actor will second that.
Often, people unintentionally end up with something of a “uniform” in their closet, a staple look that they depend on. Do you have an outfit from your wardrobe that is like this, something quintessentially “you?”
Yes, I definitely have my easy, go to ‘uniform:’ jeans, boots, T-shirt, leather jacket and a scarf. I wear scarves and leather jackets all year long!
What about your red carpet style, do you have a particular “look” you gravitate towards?
I like to have fun on the red carpet, while still staying true to my individual style. Usually, I will see an image somewhere of a color or a feeling in a photograph, or I’ll find a cool piece of clothing and build on it from there. I definitely prefer simplicity with attention to details.
What’s your favourite red carpet style moment, throughout Hollywood history?
This is very difficult to choose! There have been so many. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Kate Bosworth in a white Lanvin gown at the Superman Returns premiere. I just loved the simple elegance of her dress with the platinum hair. It was so cool, yet glamorous at the same time.
What item in your closet would you never want to part with?
I would hate to part with a pair of black suede, knee-high, fringe boots from Isabel Marant. They’re so much fun!
What item in your closet might have already overstayed its welcome?
A pair of clear, platform heels that light up when you walk. I took pole-dancing classes…I think I’ve said enough!
Got it! Any particular winter trends you’re excited about this season?
I love the return of fringe and velvet. I purchased a velvet dress from Reformation that I have lined up in my closet for the next holiday party or event. I can’t wait to wear it!
On the topic of trends, are you one to chase the latest looks off the runway, or would you say you prefer sticking to classic ensembles?
I like to mix it up, but really it’s all about what I am drawn to and what makes me feel good. I won’t wear a trend just because it’s a trend. I love that we live in a time where anything goes. Mixing vintage with runway, going classic or edgy. One of my favorite things to do is dressing down something girly or luxe. I love nothing more than throwing on a leather jacket and boots with a flowy silk dress. I love the juxtaposition of styles.
What are some of your favourite brand/designers?
Some of my favorite designers are Isabel Marant, The Row, Ulla Johnson, Rick Owens and Raquel Allegra. I also shop a lot at Reformation and Stone Cold Fox. I’m really drawn to delicate, gorgeous fabrics and great cuts. I love mixing the bohemian vibe with edgy and simple. [And,] I love that Reformation is an eco-friendly clothing line!
What style trait do you feel like is most attractive to people?
I’ve never thought to dress to attract attention. I think that’s where people can get lost and end up with over-the-top outfits. I dress to have fun and because I think something is beautiful and it makes me feel glamorous, or comfortable, or playful—whatever my mood happens to be! I also have a rule of thumb that Marilyn Monroe used for accessorizing: once fully dressed up, look in the mirror, then turn your head to the side and quickly turn back to the mirror; the first thing that catches your attention should go. I think it’s a great way to never over do a look.