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Edie Sedgwick A troubled muse

- Mikaela K. Erson


Girl, interrupted Told by a doctor not to have any children due to mental illnesses on both sides, Edie Sedgwick’s parents eventually had eight. Edie was the seventh, born in Santa Barbara on the 20th of April, 1943. Born into a wealthy family, she was raised on a 3,000 achre ranch in You have to put up with the risk of being the Santa Ynez Valley. misunderstood if you are going to try to The family’s fortune communicate. You have to put up with people became even greater projecting their own ideas, attitudes, during the 1950´s, but misunderstanding you. But it's worth being a despite this the family public fool if that's all you can be in order to was troubled by a lot of communicate yourself. problems. Alcoholism and nervous breakdowns fall of 1962, after suffering from was the reasons behind one of her bulimia. brother becoming In the beginning of the 60’s, Edie insitutionalized, and the other was studying sculpture at brother’s suicide. Edie herself Radcliffe College and living in became institutionalized in the Cambridge, Massachusettes. She met Chuck Wein, who was living a bohemian lifestyle, at her therapist’s office. After turning 21, she moved to New York. Wein also came, and decided he was going to turn Edie into a social butterfly. In the beginning of 1965, she was introduced to Andy Warhol.


Wein started bringing her to The Factory, and during one visit Warhol decided to insert Edie into one of his films; Vinyl. He later brought both Wein and Edie to the opening of a show in Paris in 1965. When they came back, Warhol crowned her the ”Queen of The Factory”. She participated in more of Warhol’s films, and became a famous face of the underground cinema. Their relationship gave them both fame, and they began to climb the social ladder, becoming a part of the art establishment. One of the many people asking Edie to start doing mainstream films was Bob Neuwirth, the assistant of Bob Dylan. Neuwirth also became her lover, even though she had feelings for Dylan. When she heard he had married in 1966, she became devastated. She disappeared from The Factory after arguing with Warhol about money, and feeling like her role in his life had decreased.

You care enough, that you want your life to be fulfilled in a living way, not in a painting way, not in a writing way... You really do want it to be involving in living, corresponding with other living objects, moving, changing, that kind of thing.

The last years of her life she was deep into a drug addicition, which might have started with her relationship to Neuwirth. Taking turns in and out of mental hospitals, she managed to stay clean for three months after her marriage to Michael Post in 1971. At the age of 27, she was found dead by her husband on the 16th of November the same year.


Style icon

While I was girl of the year and superstar and all that crap, everything I did was really...motivated by psychological disturbance. But I’d, I’d make a mask out of my face because I didn’t realize I was quite beautiful...I had to wear heavy black eyelashes like bat wings and dark lines under my eyes. Cut all my hair off, my long dark hair, cut it off and strip it silver and blond. All these little manoeuvres I did out of things that were happening in my life that upset me.

I’d freak out in a very physical way, and...it was all taken in a fashion trend.

Often seen in black tights, leotards, mini dresses and striped boatneck shirts, you probably wouldn’t think that her style was derived out of her troubled mind. But maybe it’s because of the fact that her style and sense of fashion was an extension of herself, that made her into an icon then, that still influences today. Often inspiring contemporary fashion designers, she was definitely haunting Marc Jacobs when he created his collection for this coming spring. Models styled with Tomboy-ish hair walked the runway wearing both horizontal and vertical, thick, stripes. The whole collection takes the 60’s to our own decade, being both modern and retro.


When I was with Andy Warhol I was dancing jazz ballet twice a day so i just wore my leotards and I knew I wasn’t going to turn anybody on so I just trotted around in my leotards. When I went out on the street I’d put on a coat. But Vogue photographed me in leotards and a t-shirt as a new costume.

Many years after her death, both Edie’s style and life continues to fascinate. But what are the reason behind it? Are we drawn to tragic rise-and-fall stories? Or is it the fact that we instinctively want to take out, to capture, something beautiful out of dirt and chaos? That we try to glorify personal suffering in life; drug addiction, promiscuity, mental demons... Every rose has its thorns, but some simply has more than others.

Edie Sedgwick: A troubled muse  

The life of Edie Sedgwick and her influence on fashion today.

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