When it comes to her jeans, the artist and actress Rebecca Dayan goes for feel and fit, but maybe a little more of the former. For example, the denim of these faded vintage Levi’s 501s is “thick and soft” at the same time, in only that way well-worn real denim can be. She scored them at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, CA. And their high waist and perfectly tapered legs look like they were made for her.

We photographed her Rebecca at the Catherine Ahnell Gallery in Soho, where the French-born, East Village-dwelling artist’s show first show, called “Assumption,” has been on for the past few weeks (see it before it ends on October 11). For one month, Rebecca lived and worked in the space, painting watercolor portraits of her friends (think artist-model Tali Lennox, artist-designer Ana Kras, DJ Alix Brown and writer Karley Sciortino) featured in the exhibition. Rebecca explained, “I asked the girls to replicate poses of the Virgin Mary,” a subject she became interested in after researching the original meaning of the word “virgin” for her next film role (a nun in the 1960s). It used to mean unmarried woman, she said, before it took on its current connotation. “I wanted to reclaim it.”

If these jeans look paint-free, it’s because Rebecca doesn’t work in them much, preferring to paint in her underwear or pajamas – make sense when you’re studio is also your home. Pain splatters would be cool, but these are true blue.

Describe the vintage Levi’s jeans you wore for our shoot in one word.


If your jeans could talk, what would they say to you?

Stop spilling!

What’s the most memorable place these jeans have been?

Budapest, while filming Childhood of a Leader.

What’s the weirdest place?

My closet.

Rebecca DayanRebecca DayanPAINTED LADIES Rebecca amidst her watercolor portraits at Catherine Ahnell Gallery.

What do you look for when you’re buying vintage Levi’s? Is the color first, or the fit?

Color comes first then fit… When I find a pair that has both, it’s a keeper.

If you could steal someone’s jeans, whose would they be? 

Jane Birkin’s.

If you had to give these vintage 501s away, whom would you give them to? 

Someone who i could borrow them from.

Do you remember your first pair of jeans? What were they?

I don’t, actually… But I would suspect they were Chipie, a french brand for kids that doesn’t exist anymore.

What are your Top 3 jeans of all time? When did you get them and what do you love most about each?

These! I basically lived in them all last year; A pair of super-flared 18th Amendment Colberts ’cause of their super-high waist; And my denim Liberty overalls… For obvious reasons.


Favorite brands?

Acne, Redun.

Who besides you has worn your jeans?

Nobody! At least not that I know of.

What do other people say about your Levi’s?

Great pair!

Do you keep your jeans forever, or do you get rid of them?

I keep them mostly. I just gave a pair of great 517 that I had tailored, ’cause they looked better on my friend.

What do you love most about the ones you wore for our shoot?

The way they feel.

What do your jeans reveal about the way that you live on a daily basis?

Mix it up.

Rebecca Dayan

Do you buy new jeans?

I rarely find good pairs so no, not that many new ones.

What kind of jeans did you wear as a teenager? Would you wear them now?

Printed stretch Cimarrons… Probably not.

What city has the best denim style?

New York

How does the perfect pair of jeans make you feel?


If you had to replace all of your jeans with something else, what would it be?

A great lover.

Fill in the blank: Without my jeans, I am _________.


In my jeans, I am _________.


Rebecca Dayan’s “Assumption” is on through October 11 at Catherine Ahnell Gallery, 66 Grand Street #1, NYC.