In 1986 — when I was an undergraduate at Columbia College and some of you weren’t born — I got the book that made the long-forgotten Edie Sedgwick an icon. It was then called Edie: An American Biography (it has since been retitled Edie: American Girl) and it had been out for a few years, so a hard-cover copy was on sale for $1.99 at the bookstore. I read that book from cover-to-cover, beginning to end, backwards and forwards and every other way you can possibly read a book. I fantasized about being glamorous and tragically fucked-up like Edie. But I wasn’t rich and didn’t do drugs (my parents would have yelled at me, for God’s sake!), so I settled for wearing black leggings for years. Edie often wore a black leotard and/or black tights.
Edie is an oral history and one of the interviewees is costume jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane. In the book’s afterword, Lane said of himself:
“… In 1963 I invented costume jewelry for the beautiful people — was lionized by them and became one of the most splendidly beautiful of them — a genuine Sixties character! Handsome, tall, thin … sitting in the back of my vintage Rolls (and matching driver) wearing either my floor-length leopard — or monkey — or unicorn, coat — all of which have disappeared. ….”
I was enthralled by this image. (Lane was named to the International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1974. Click here to see him with Diana Vreeland in 1976.) I also knew that leopard fur was legal in the ’60s (it was banned by the U.S. in 1973) and that unicorns don’t exist (right?!?).
But in those pre-Google days, I wasn’t sure whether monkey fur was like leopard — something people wore back in the day — or if it was imaginary like unicorn. It stayed in my mind as a symbol of a fascinating, decadent era. So, last March, when I stumbled across a 1960s-era monkey-fur coat by the fascinating, decadent designer Jacques Tiffeau, I had to get it.
However, when the coat arrived, I thought it was a little scary in a hairy way. I also remembered that I detest monkeys.
I left the coat in the package it came in and pursued my newfound interest in Tiffeau in other ways.
I finally wore the coat in December. I was going out with a couple of designing friends and figured they would appreciate an unusual fashion artifact. We had so much fun that we forgot to take a picture of it! So I wore it again a few days later for happy hour at Lure with a group including my photographically talented friend Tina.
I highly recommend Lure’s happy hour: oysters are $1 each! We got 20 for four of us.
If you like the look of my coat but detest monkeys … or fur in general (I don’t give a fuck what you think of my Tiffeau, thanks very much) … you can get a ’70s faux-fur-sleeved jacket by Giorgio Sant’ Angelo, another vintage designer I love, on 1stdibs.com.
Speaking of Edie, back in 2007, Sienna Miller portrayed the Casey-Johnson-of-the’60s in Factory Girl. Sienna went to the after-party of the New York premiere dressed Edie-style in a black leotard and tights. (I was more conservative and wore black tights with a vintage Ossie Clark dress.)
People everywhere went all fashion-police on Sienna’s ass, making fun of her about what they should have known was a cool tribute to Edie. Now the no-pants look is all the rage.
Sienna, in copying someone from 40 years ago, was way ahead of her time. Who’s laughing now, bitches?
UPDATED TO ADD: Miss Cavendish had Kenneth Jay Lane sign her copy of Edie! Check it out here.
Definitely one of the most informative posts I’ve read on a blog in a long time. It really helps put today’s fashions into perspective.
such a fun & informative post! i love edie and i always enjoy revisiting her style.
You look adorable in that shot, I was already born 😉 I am a fan of leggings, but will not rock ‘no pants’.
That is totally a sweet shot of you posing it up in Amsterdam. Poor Sienna. She can never get a break from the paps. She’s not only recycling fashion, she’s recycling beaux – Jude Law. Eek.
Annie Spandex says
I see you’ve always had that adorable smile!
i love how you just brought this full circle!!!
Wow, I think that’s the best look I’ve ever seen on Sienna Miller, even if she isn’t wearing any pants. Edie is definitely a fashion icon; love seeing you channeling her in 1986!
Wow I had no idea that Edie was the originator of the no-pants look!
Yes, it is quite tragic that Sienna is back with Jude. Some people never learn I guess.
jewellery jobs says
I like the way you write your blogs, interesting but more importantly FUN!!
I remember reading that biography in college and being saddened by what a waste her life ended up being. Love the modern takes via Sienna et all on her look.
Topaz Horizon says
oh, what i’d give for fresh oysters. sluuuuurp! the oysters here are amazing, wendyb. i’d have them every sunday for lunch except that now i’m pregnant and apparently pregnant women who eat raw food are evil, so i’ve been told. sigh.
LOVE this post!!! The title sucked me in!!
Annie Spandex says
Oh, I remember this post now! I’d completely forgotten. How funny! I love that I got my copy for cheaper. 😉
And that quote from Kenneth Jay Lane stood out to me, too, though I bet even more so for you since you’re a jewelry designer. So hilariously fab-ulous! A floor-length unicorn coat… the rarest of the rare. Ha! That book is so great and so sad. I have the first paperback edition and the where-are-they-now contributor blurbs are pretty funny on their own–Betsey Johnson right before she hit it bigtime with the babydoll dresses. Cool stuff.