Book Review: Edie: An American Girl

You’ve probably already heard some version of events of the life of this stylish socialite. In late 2006, a film about Edie Sedgwick was released. Entitled Factory Girl, it had Sienna Miller playing a wide-eyed Mary Sue of sorts, who could tame horses and make even the surliest of weak Bob Dylan impersonators fall in love with her. Her downfall and drug addiction was sparked by the treatment of the Big Bad Andy Warhol, leading to her eventual death.

The almost cartoonish biopic of the famed sixties socialite, while rooted in the truth, favours the more salacious aspects of Sedgwick’s legendarily sensational life. Her biography, Edie: an American Girl, does not take such a dramatized view of Sedgwick’s life, but it doesn’t marginalize this perspective either. Jean Stein compiles her story entirely from other people’s memories of the icon: her family members, peers, doctors, and pretty much everyone else who had any sort of contact with her during her brief lifespan (including Mr. Warhol himself). The editor retains many of Sedgwick’s more human traits – the good and the bad – rather than elevating her to the goddess-like status she had in the movie. Every memory of her is meticulously recorded, often producing contradicting points of view from different people. For instance, we quickly see the difference in how Sedgwick is perceived by her siblings. Her eldest sister, Saucie, sees her as a narcissistic bully, whereas Suky, her youngest sister, completely idolizes Sedgwick, looking up to her as the single most creative being on the planet.

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WORN Cinema Society: 1970s In Why See & Anton Perich

In the late 60s, Anton Perich ran an underground film program in Paris that screened the early works of Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas. When he moved to New York City in the 1970s, he freelanced photography gigs for Interview Magazine and ran one of the very first ‘underground’ cable access shows. He was even an ‘early pioneer’ of digital art, having invented in the late ’70s an ‘electric painting machine’ that was a precursor to the ink-jet printer.

Mr. Perich’s most accessible legacy however, lies in is his YouTube channel, and the uploaded classic fashion show footage he shot during that hedonistic Loft Party/Studio 54 era (the above photo is a Perich — see Andy, Jerry, Paloma and Truman). The videos are shaky and even blurry at times, but don’t let that get in the way of your viewing pleasure. It’s a wonderful documentation of how ye old fashion show might have been presented — on a stage, minus the runway. Given the recent inclination for designers to eschew the typical Fashion Week presentation for more creative events and installations, it’s a wonderful reveal that the more things might change, the more they’ll stay the same (ie. let’s put on a show!).

There’s a Kenzo show where the models prance out in high leather boots, twirling with style to the deep disco and if you look closely, you might spot Jerry Hall, Iman, Patti Hansen (cause everyone was there). Perich even caught a few historical firsts, such as Issey Miyake’s 1975 FIT show (his first in NY). It’s high drama via fuzzy black and white video: models coolly stride out (oh my, is that Pat Cleveland?) to wailing Robert Fripp guitars and Kraftwerk blips (a perfect accompaniment for his billowing and transformative windcoat shapes).

My favourite footage? Grace Jones getting her hair cut. Srsly. It’s a quiet moment between performer and hair dresser that’s incredibly intimate. Get thee to Perich’s channel and watch it for yourself.

-Rea McNamara