A beautiful birdie reminded me today is the birthday of Edie Sedgwick, she of the ermine hair, silvery limbs, eyes like a Day of the Dead painting. Edie’s glamour was rooted in the visibility of her exoskeleton, and the most iconic photographs taken of her caress those cheekbones, clavicle, hipbones, the tiny exposed infrastructure of her wrists and upper arms. I still admire the effect though her eating disorder helped launch my own. I even had a name for it: Glamourosa nervosa.
Dying the year I was born, she would have been 76 today, but Edie never was going to live that long. Hers was the last-hurrah glow of a star shooting into oblivion, her no-holds-barred radiance the original heroin chic. Yet even at her most junked-up, goth was as far from her aesthetic as from a Swedish nun. Now that I’m twenty years older than she ever became, I grok her poor-little-rich-girl limitations—namely, being the art rather than making the art. Not even today can you live into your 30s without learning to live without an audience. Still, I’m so grateful for how she lit our path with striped shirts and chandelier earrings. To those of us bridging the mid-20th century and the new millennium (aka we Gen Xers looking backward to find our future), Edie was all the 1960s at once and we loved her for it.