I was in Europe two weeks ago when news broke of Anita Pallenberg’s death at age 75, and I want to pay tribute to her, belatedly, because she was a style icon.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Anita was a model and actress (Barbarella, Performance), but she really made her mark on fashion when the Rolling Stones picked up on the look that New York Times fashion writer Vanessa Friedman recently called “boho deluxe,” a look that mixed:
“… high boots and miniskirts and chain belts and new romantic blouses; animal print and paisley and florals; billowing sleeves and ribbed knits. [Pallenberg] threw it all together with a just-rolled-out-of-bed/up-all-night air and dared anyone to comment. She mixed high and low and blended genres with magnetic abandon, and the result had its own gravitational pull.”
It was Pallenberg’s influence, Friedman wrote, that “transformed [the Stones] from a jacket-and-tie boy band into icons of decadent glam in the mid-1960s.” Pallenberg was in the group’s orbit for years, initially because of a relationship with Brian Jones, the original leader of the Stones. She left Jones for Keith Richards, with whom she had three children (one, a boy, died as an infant). Anita and Keith had a tumultuous relationship, in part because when it came to drugs, Anita “out-Keithed Keith,” in the words of V Magazine. And that ain’t easy! In fact, Anita’s DNA, like Keith‘s, should be studied because the clue to surviving pretty much anything might be in there somewhere.
Anita out-Keithed Keith when it came to style too. He said as much in his memoir, Life — it was Anita who made him fashionable:
“Anita had a huge influence on the style of the times. She could put anything together and look good. I was beginning to wear her clothes most of the time. I would wake up and put on what was lying around. Sometimes it was mine, and sometimes it was the old lady’s, but we were the same size so it didn’t matter. If I sleep with someone, I at least have the right to wear her clothes. But it really pissed off [Stones drummer] Charlie Watts, with his walk-in cupboards of impeccable Savile Row suits, that I started to become a fashion icon for wearing my old lady’s clothes.”
One of the designers of Pallenberg’s more flowing looks was my favorite 1960s/70s designer, Ossie Clark. Pretty much whenever Ossie is mentioned, Anita is mentioned (and vice versa), so it’s frustrating that I can’t find an embeddable photo of her in any of his designs. In lieu of that, enjoy this New York Times slideshow of Pallenberg’s style.