Before Britney, Paris and Lindsay, there was Edie.
Edie Sedgwick was America’s first wild child. She was a poor little rich girl, Andy Warhol’s muse and the drug-addled queen of underground film in New York. She was the first celebrity to become famous for being famous, making newspaper headlines as “the girl with the black tights” and appearing in Vogue for being a “youthquaker” during the pop-fashion era of the ’60s.
Sedgwick epitomized bad behavior, and she would no doubt be unfazed by the way celebrity starlets act these days. She’d probably just roll her eyes and apply another layer of black eyeliner.
Tragically, she died at age 28 from a barbiturate overdose, but her spirit lives on — and now, after many attempts, the screen version of her life is finally about to hit theaters. “Factory Girl” stars Sienna Miller as Sedgwick and Guy Pearce as Warhol. The movie is due in early 2007, but it will be shown in one Los Angeles theater the week of December 29 in order to qualify for Oscar consideration.
With all the buzz, a new Edie fashion infatuation has emerged, and even those who didn’t know who she was are asking what the big deal is. “She was famous for an image,” said David Dalton, Warhol’s former assistant and the co-author of “Edie Factory Girl.” “People loved her because of the way she looked, not for something she did [or] for any achievement.”
With her short bobbed haircut, the leopard coat, the huge earrings, the T-shirt with the tights and the cigarette dangling from her mouth, Edie was “an angel with a broken wing,” as the Cult wrote in their song “Edie (Ciao Baby).”
“There seemed to be this almost supernatural glow to her that’s hard to describe,” wrote playwright Robert Heide. “Literally there was an aura emanating from her, a white or blue aura. It’s as if Edie was illuminated from within. Her skin was translucent — Marilyn Monroe had that quality.”
In early 1965, Edie, who had just dropped out of art school, met pop artist Warhol at a party. “His x-ray spex saw through to her core and recognized there was a quark of great charm and spin,” writes Dalton. “As a collector of damaged and luminous souls, he wanted to capture this rare creature on film.”
She became his muse, his consort and his double.
“The two of them together seemed absolutely irresistible,” said Dalton. “He the nutty artist and she the mirror reflection.”
Sedgwick and Warhol shot a number of underground films, which few people have seen and which are mostly unwatchable. Photos and “making-of” film stills of Sedgwick, some of which are available on YouTube, show Edie having a party.
“Bad behavior became a kind of model for Edie,” said Dalton. “It’s a kind of hedonism where you don’t really care what the consequences are. As a young person, everyone is always telling you to watch out and choose your friends, but Edie just went for it hell-for-leather.
“People wanted to look like her and have a good time with her without any consequences,” he continued. “She expresses the childlike joy of the era. That energy and lunge at life that people in the ’60s seemed to have is harder to simulate as decades go on. Everything was changing.”
Sedgwick was the daughter of an aristocrat named Francis “Fuzzy” Sedgwick, who abused her at age 7 and drove both of her brothers to suicide. “She was just enchanting, and we were all in love with her,” said journalist Danny Fields. “But you knew she was such damaged goods by the time we found her.”
Both Sienna Miller and Kate Moss have been responsible for bringing back the Sedgwick style recently — tights, boots, minidresses and chunky jewelry.
“All those girls are Edie prototypes,” Dalton said. “The fascinating, doomed temptress that you can’t resist. That’s what she represents, and by dying young, all of that was preserved. We don’t see Edie getting fat and going into real estate. You have this pure image of her not caring about the future.”
For your Edie fix, download lost footage of “Ciao! Manhattan” on YouTube, purchase a pair of black tights and a striped shirt at H&M or go shopping at Betsey Johnson for inspiration. Below are some other ideas:
Stock up on Andy Warhol Couture:
At Virgin Megastore, you can get a Marilyn Monroe canvas bag, a banana sling purse, a Campbell’s Soup pocketbook or a revolver wallet, all adorned with images of iconic silkscreen prints by Warhol. For $21.99, you can get a silkscreen Edie T-shirt with the words “Original It Girl” printed on it or a Velvet Underground & Nico shirt. Andy Warhol Couture is also sold at www.loopnyc.com.
Levi’s and Barneys New York are celebrating all things Warhol:
Not only are the holiday store windows at Barneys in New York adorned with Warhol paraphernalia and pop art, but the luxury boutique carries the Warhol Factory X Levi’s collection line for men and women. Our favorite item is a cute ice-cream-cone shirt for $38 with the phrase “I only stop when I’m full” written across the front. Also check out a limited-edition soup can with Warhol-designed labels for $12. Yes, there is real tomato soup inside! Available at www.barneys.com.
Create your own silkscreen photo with Apple’s iSight:
It’s the latest feature atop all new iMac computers, a built-in video camera that takes photos with the program Photo Booth. Send a Warhol-esque photo to your buddies, put it on your MySpace page or print it out. Warhol pioneered the development of photomechanical silkscreens and was known for his portraits of celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy.
Brush up on your Warhol and Edie:
Tons of books have been written about Warhol, from the captivating “Andy Warhol: Giant Size” to “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” written by the artist. Two recent books about Sedgwick are Dalton’s “Edie Factory Girl,” written with Nat Finkelstein, and “Edie: Girl on Fire” by David Weisman and Melissa Painter.
Turn your white tank top into a minidress:
All you need is a white or black Hanes tank top (or any oversized shirt), a belt, some black tights and some costume jewelry to create the Edie look. An oversized fur coat would top it all off nicely.
Download Edie-inspired songs:
It has been reported that Warhol asked Lou Reed to write the beautiful, ethereal Velvet Underground song “Femme Fatale” for Sedgwick. Others include the aforementioned “Edie (Ciao Baby)” by the Cult and “Little Miss S” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.
Fall in love (all over again) with Bob Dylan:
Edie was in love with Dylan’s manager, Bob Neuwirth, but it is rumored that she really pined for Dylan. Some say he wrote “Just Like a Woman” for her, and that she inspired “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”
Cake on the black eyeliner:
Sedgwick spent hours each day on her makeup. “She would drive us insane sitting there with her makeup case, just endlessly, endlessly doing her makeup while everybody was starving and late for the party and wanting to go and becoming so irate,” said Bibbe Hansen, another Warhol protégé (and, for the record, Beck’s mom). “Yeah, it took a couple of hours, but when she was done, she looked fabulous.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Factory Girl.”
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