Sunday, 8 November 2009

Factory Girl

When I wrap a faux fur coat around my shoulders or use eye liner to draw seductive flicks across my eyes, I remember Edie Sedgwick. Forget the imitation party girls splashed across gossip magazines and glamorised in style guides, Edie was the original poster girl for trouble but it was her cutting-edge style and vivacious attitude to life that continues to inspire.

Edie was a product of the Factory, an art scene orbital around Andy Warhol and she became the living embodiment of this artistic movement. Like the Factory’s art, her style was avant-garde but popularised. She was part beatnik rebel, part Upper East Side princess having been born into a family of both heritage and great wealth. It was this controlling world from which she sought escape with a divergent, thrown together assortment of accoutrements. Edie appeared as if she had arrived from an elegant cocktail party uptown but was ready to party downtown. Always with a gin and tonic and cigarette in hand, Edie sashayed through the art world like an exquisite but vulnerable butterfly floating on the breeze of fame.

Adorned with geometric pendulum earrings, Edie championed skin tight monochrome mini dresses complimented by leather baker boy caps. Her gamine frame cut an enigmatic fashion figure against the night swathed in a voluminous leopard print coat. In her most iconic photographs, Edie used her long legs encased in tight black leggings and elongated with modernistic pointed ankle boots to strike angular poses with her Factory counterparts. This girl was a series of antitheses which defined the fashion of the decade. Unfailingly generous yet entirely selfish, she is said to have spent her vast inheritance in less than six months on a cocktail of couture, parties and danger. Yet Edie’s influence caught the attention of the girls on the streets of Greenwich Village to the 5th Avenue glitterati. For the 1960s, she was New York style.

Edie was ruffled, androgynous, space-age platinum hair and succulent, pouting lips. Her make-up was high maintenance glamour but caked thick like a mask. Her iconic cat-eye sweeps of black eye liner contrasted with chalky white eye shadow. Edie’s skin was alabaster and her face, accented by thick defining eye brows had a flirtatious beauty spot.

She had the charm and poise of a socialite but the taste for danger of a damaged child and it was this combination that lead to her demise through narcotics. Perhaps the continuing interest in Edie and her style is because of her dynamism. She flashed across the cinema screen of mainstream consciousness like the stills of Warhol’s films then vanished in a flash of light.

So when you stroke you hands across the softness of this season’s faux fur coats in Topshop, spare a thought for the bewitching rebel who wore it first. If she were alive today, chances are she’d gasp, tell you how divine you are and invite you to a party.

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