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.
“… 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.