The Genius of Kate Bush

19 Oct


Sometimes I have to ‘disappear’ a day and lose myself in another world to get inspired. Yesterday was one of those days and this time I choose the world of Kate Bush. I read a lot about her, watched many of her music video’s and found a BBC documentary I’d like to share. 

The first time I saw the Wuthering Heights video in 1978 was a mesmerizing moment. What I didn’t realise then, was the genius of Kate Bush, who wrote the beautiful song The Man With The Child In His Eyes when she was 13 and recorded it at the age of 16! She became famous at 19 and was solely responsable for her music, her way of dancing and her looks…… 

Very young Kate Bush, stylish already

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate Bush became one of music’s most influential women. Her tales of dashing heroes & heroines, sung in her trademark voice, marked Kate out as very different from the rest of the pop crowd.

Her appearance was another trademark, the wild auburn hair was bohemian, always curly or crimped, her wide-eyed expression was achieved with black liner around her eyes, piles of mascara and heavy grey and green eyeshadow, also Kate loved red lipstick. It all added to her status as a style icon.

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Kate BushKate wearing Fong Leng, ph. Claude Vanheye 
Kate Bush
Kate wearing Fong Leng, ph. Claude Vanheye  
kate bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush

Her background in dance led her to mixing floaty chiffons and silks with spandex leggings and dancewear.  The ivory, floaty Cathy-dress she wore in the video for Wuthering Heights was /is a classic piece of loveliness, punk meets the Pre-Raphaelites.  

Kate Bush has always electrified fashion. Part Stanislavski, part sex-kitten, she influenced many fashion designers with her style and but few artists are played more often at runway shows.

Kate Bush, a true original.


Watch the documentary and get inspired by this phenomenal icon


Kate BushKate Bush, Sarah Lund acant-la-lettre

Marianne Faithfull, Still a Fashion Icon (Part Two)

12 Oct

marianne faithfull

After decades Marianne Faithfull is still a Fashion Icon 

Back in 1971, Yves Saint Laurent was foundational in celebrity stylish as he dressed Mick and Bianca Jagger for their wedding in St. Tropez. By doing so, he built on the already solid platform that saw the brand adjoined closely with rock and roll culture in the houses infant years. Decades later, last year to be exact, that connection was restored as the brand launched their Saint Laurent Music Project. A growing portraiture campaign of musicians styling themselves in iconic and permanent pieces of the Saint Laurent collection, continues this year with contributions from Marianne Faithfull.



Marianne Faithfull about Kate Bush

“On the phone from Paris, famous fan Marianne Faithfull notes that Bush’s four-octave range should be regarded as a “national treasure.” “My favorite instrument in the whole world is the human female voice, and Kate Bush is one of the reasons why. It is, by far, a Stradivarius,” Faithfull says. “Which is why she rarely deals with the press or isn’t in a rush to record. She’s one of the few who can be above all that.”


They all wanted to photograph her

 Marianne Faithfull by David BaileyDavid Bailey, 1964
Terry O'Neill
Terry O’Neill, 1964. 
Terry O'Neill
 Terry O’Neill, 1964. These pictures changed her image 
John Kelly, 1967
Cecil Beaton 1968
Cecil Beaton, 1968 
 Robert Mapplethorpe, 1974
helmut newton 1979
Helmut Newton, 1979
Steven Meisel, 1989
Annie-Leibovitz, 1990
Bettina Rheims 1995
Bettina Rheims 1995
Bruce Weber 1997
Bruce Weber, 1997
Anton-Corbijn. 1997
Anton Corbijn, 1997
Ellen Von Unwerth 1999
Ellen Von Unwerth, 1999
helmut newton 1999
Helmut Newton, 1999 
Peter Lindberg, 2002
Rankin, 2005
 Rankin, 2005
Karl Lagerfeld, 2010
Hedi Slimane 2014
Hedi Slimane, 2014

Marianne Faithfull & Kate Moss 

In 2009 Marianne Faithfull launched an extraordinary attack in The Daily Mail on former friend Kate Moss, calling the supermodel a ‘vampire’ who stole her style. The (now) 68-year-old singer said that, although she and Kate were once close, they are no longer on speaking terms.

‘She’s not really my friend. I thought she was, but she’s very clever,’ she said. ‘She wanted to read me like a Braille book. And she did. It’s a vampirical thing.’

Marianne, who famously had a relationship with Mick Jagger in the late 1960s, even accuses the 40-year-old of imitating her choice of men, comparing the Rolling Stone to Kate’s husband Jamie Hince. ‘Now I see pictures of her with a boy who looks like Mick Jagger, and her looking like me. So there was a reason. It’s one of her gigs to do me,’ she told The Times.

Kate And Marianne

Kate and Marianne, apparently drawn to each other by a shared love of fashion and rock stars, were once a regular night-time fixture in Central London and even holidayed together in the Bahamas. At the time the iconic star said that she and Kate, who is almost thirty years her junior, were kindred spirits.

‘She’s very complex – she’s very like me. She’s a Capricorn. I think she’s great,’ she has said. ‘You know, it’s OK. I don’t give a s***. But I was quite offended at the time. We were very fond of each other. And then it suddenly soured,’ she added.

‘She’s very clever, but she isn’t at all educated. We don’t have any [common] references. Except music.”

A  year later, Marianne Faithfull apologizes to Kate Moss…… 

In the Guardian of 16 February 2013, Marianne says she’s keeping her distance: “Except from Kate [Moss] – she’s an exception, because she’s clever and interesting, which is rare. Also, she’s clean now, which is great. It makes things much easier. She’s almost 40, which is a good time to stop. It’s when I stopped.”

Kate and Marianne


Story in W magazine by Bruce weber

The story was called “High Camp” and was published in W magazine November 1997. Models in this series:- Lucie de la Falaise, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Marianne Faithfull.  Photographed by Bruce Weber,  styled by Giovanna Battaglia

Only the pictures with Marrianne Faithfull:

W magazine

W November 1997 -High Camp- by Bruce Weber from tfs - 5

W November 1997 -High Camp- by Bruce Weber from tfs - 8 (1)

W November 1997 -High Camp- by Bruce Weber from tfs - 11


W magazine


New Album

‘Sparrows Will Sing’ was written by Roger Waters for Marianne Faithfull and is the first single from Marianne’s 20th album ‘Give My Love To London’.



Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull, the Original Rock Chic (Part One)

5 Oct

Marianne Faithfull

 Marianne Faithfull is one of the Sixties’ greatest fashion icons and the original rock chic.

Once every so often along comes a genuine style icon – someone with such originality and flare that they capture the attention of millions. A lot of younger girls (and boys) think Kate Moss invented the boho style, but it’s the wardrobe of Marianne Faithfull that originated this style. Marianne Faithfull’s life and wardrobe have made her a cultural phenomenon.

 marianne faithful

Short Biography

Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull, daughter of Eva, the Baroness Erisso, and Major Glynn Faithfull, a WWII British spy, was born on 29 December, 1946 in London. She was a bright, fashionable and lively teenager, who plunged in the London social scene. In 1964, barely 16, she began to take on gigs as a folk music performer in coffee houses.

Her career really began when she attended a Rolling Stones launch party and was discovered by Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first major release, As Tears Go By, was, in fact, written by Andrew Loog Oldham, Mick Jagger and  Keith Richards. More hit records followed, including Summer Nights and This Little Bird.



Marianne seemed to have it all, an instant career and she married John Dunbar on 6 May, 1965, with whom she got son Nicholas on 10 November the same year. But turmoil was on its way. Marianne fell in love with Mick Jagger and left her husband. Years later she told journalists:  ‘My first move was to get a Rolling Stone as a boyfriend. I slept with three and decided the lead singer was the best bet.’

The start of her affair with Mick Jagger was also the start of Marianne’s use of drugs. The glamorous couple became a notorious component of the London Swinging scene.

Marianne with the stones
 Marianne & the Stones 

Marianne & Mick Jagger

Faithfull & Jagger

Jagger, Faithfull & Delon

Jagger & Faithfull

Jagger & Faithfull

Mick Jagger & Marianne Faithfull (7)

Jagger & Faithfull

Faithfull & Jagger


Marianne was found wearing only a fur rug by police executing a drug search at Keith Richards’ house in West Wittering, Sussex. In an interview 27 years later for Details, she discussed her wilder days and admitted that the drug bust fur rug incident was devastating to her personal life: ‘It destroyed me. To be a male drug addict and to act like that is always enhancing and glamorising. A woman in that situation becomes a slut and a bad mother’.

In 1968, now addicted to cocaine, she miscarried a daughter before ending her relationship with Jagger and losing custody of her son in 1970 – an incident which caused her mother to attempt suicide. Together with her personal life her career spiraled into a failure. She only made a few appearances, including a 1973 performance at NBC with David Bowie, singing Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”.



 She lived on London’s Soho streets for two years, suffering from heroin addiction and anorexia nervosa. In 1971, producer Mike Leander found her on the streets and made an attempt to revive her career, producing part of her album Rich Kid Blues. The album would take until 1985 for it to be appreciated.

Speaking of this time she’s astonished that she managed to survive: ‘It’s very, very strange to think about it. It was such a degraded moment, to live on a wall and shoot drugs’.

‘It was complete anonymity. I wanted to disappear – and I did. I wanted out. I wanted out of that world. It’s not that I didn’t love Mick, or I didn’t love the people in my life. I did. But I wasn’t cut out for all that. I certainly wasn’t cut out – although it is a great honour – to be a muse. It is a very hard job.’

Marianne the Muse & Fashion Icon

Singer Marianne Faithfull blows smoke from her mouth as she poses in a dress by Ossie Clark in 1973.Marianne Faithfull wearing Ossie Clark dress

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne faithfull
Marianne Faithfull wearing Ossie ClarkMarianne wearing famous Ossie Clark snakeskin jacket 
Marianne Faithfull
Marianne Faithfull

Her career restored in full force in 1979 with the album Broken English, one of her most praised albums. It was partially influenced by the punk explosion and her marriage to Ben Brierly of the punk band the Vibrators. A severe laryngitis, together with constant cocaine abuse, permanently changed Marianne’s voice, leaving it cracked and deeper in tone. While her new sound was praised as “whisky soaked” by some critics, a journalist of the Sunday Times, wrote that she had “permanently vulgarised her voice”.

Since then, Marianne Faithfull produced many records, appeared in movies and collaborated with famous photographers (pictures published in the Part Two)



Aside from her successful singing career, she also enjoyed success as an actress. In 1967 she starred in the film I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘is Name, in which she was the first ever to say the F-word in a movie. A year later, she amassed a cult following as the leather-clad motorcyclist in the French film The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968). After minor appearances in film and television in the 1970s, followed by a fourteen year hiatus, she made appearances as “God” in the adored and well received British-comedy series Absolutely Fabulous (1992). And in Sofia Coppola’s, Marie Antoinette (2006). Marianne played the part of Empress Maria Theresa. A year later, she starred in the film Irina Palm (2007), she played the central role of Maggie, a 60-year-old widow who becomes a sex worker to pay for medical treatment for her ill grandson. Her performance in the film was nominated a European Film Award for Best Actress.

Marie Antoinette

Marianne Faithfull, mother Marie AntoinetteMarianne Faithfull as the mother of Marie Antoinette, Empress Maria Theresa 
Marie-AntoinetteSofia Coppola & Marianne Faithful  


The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968). A must see for all lovers of 1960s cult and retro British cinema.

Absolutely Fabulous



New Book


 Book description

A tribute to the life and work of one of the great musical icons of the twentieth century, reflected through the lenses of the world’s greatest photographers. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release in 1964 of her groundbreaking debut single “As Tears Go By,” this is the definitive book on Faithfull, one of the most beloved singers of the twentieth century. As a folk singer in London, Marianne Faithfull was discovered in a coffeehouse in 1964 by the manager of the Rolling Stones. Over the five decades since, her work as a musician, her performances as an actress on stage and screen, and her presence as an icon of style have made Faithfull an undisputed icon of pop culture. Edited by the artist herself, with accompanying handwritten captions, this book represents a personal collection of images that tell the stories of her life—from her explosive success in London in the 1960s and her infamous relationships with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, to her rise as an actress and her collaborations with artists as diverse as David Bowie and Nick Cave. Including never-before-seen snapshots from Faithfull’s collection, specially commissioned photographs of her home in Paris, and iconic images by many of the world’s best-known photographers—Steven Meisel, David Bailey, and Anton Corbijn, among many others—this is a revealing celebration of an extraordinary life in popular culture

Official website Marianne Faithfull:


Info:,, Wikipedia

Jacques de Bascher called Karl Lagerfeld “Mein Kaiser”

28 Sep

Jacques de Bascher

Since the book The Beautiful Fall and the movie Yves Saint Laurent there’s been an increasing interest in Jacques de Bascher, the man who fuelled the rivalry between former friends Karl Lagerfeld & Yves Saint Laurent by having a love affair with both of them and the reason Karl Lagerfeld suffered from a broken heart for years. Now the movie Saint Laurent has been released (24 September, 2014), I find even more people searching for information on Jacques de Bascher on my blog, so I decided to try to find out more about this mysterious dandy.

It wasn’t an easy task, because not a lot to be found about him, but ……


What has been written about Jacques de Bascher:.

Behind every great designer there is often a nudging muse; an aristocratic aesthete who embodies not only the designer’s ideals but who also simultaneously pushes him towards greatness. This symbiotic relationship is at the heart of many a fairytale story; note Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, Yves Saint Laurent and Lou Lou de la Falaise. Jacques de Bascher represents this figure for arguably the most influential and important designer (bar perhaps Yves Saint Laurent) of the last half a century – Kaiser Karl, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, Fendi, and world domination.

Jacques was not born into actual French aristocracy, but into an affluent family who had borrowed the title to accompany their wealth. But he certainly dressed the part. For Lagerfeld, Jacques represented the dandy prince of the castle who he had always wanted to be. He came to Paris seeking fame and popularity, and found it first as Lagerfeld’s lover and companion, with a brief interlude as Yves Saint Laurent’s obsession. With his penchant for exquisite suits, and turn of the century details, Jacques made quite a stir in Paris society in the eighties until his untimely death from AIDS in 1989. Even David Hockney immortalized him in one of his famous pencil sketches, which now retail for $60 upwards. A true gentleman icon of the last century and something of a modern-day Dorian Gray, Jacques de Bascher was truly a tragic figure worthy of being remembered.

Jacques-de-BascherJacques de Bascher 

In the early 70s, however, Karl Lagerfeld became enamored of Jacques de Bascher, a debauched young nobleman new to the Parisian scene, and began bankrolling his extravagant lifestyle. Bascher intrigued Saint Laurent, too, who saw in him a way to rebel against Pierre Bergé’s tight control and to “exorcise certain of his demons,” Drake (Alicia Drake, the writer of The Beautial Fall) writes. In 1973, Saint Laurent and Bascher began an affair — infuriating Lagerfeld and Bergé, and precipitating the fateful rupture between the two camps. 

For Drake, Bascher personified the “gilt-edged decadence” that defined his intimates’ milieu. Drawing on the link he himself made between “decadence” and “falling” (a link that apparently inspired her book’s title, The Beautiful Fall), she writes: “For Jacques, it was always beauty that justified the fall. Beauty made even the idea of self-destruction … a possibility.” By self-destruction, the author means not only drug addiction but AIDS, from which Bascher died at 38. But despite Drake’s presentation of him as a doomed artiste, his demise comes more as an anticlimax than as a tragedy of genius lost. Having “never carved a statue or painted a picture” or designed an article of clothing, Bascher left behind only a legacy of hatred between two men far more talented than he. The New York Times

Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques de BascherJacques de Bascher (right) & Karl Lagerfeld (middle)

People familiar with Paris fashion folklore readily recognize Pierre Bergé is talking about Saint Laurent’s liaison in the 1970s to the late Parisian dandy, Jacques de Bascher, who also carried on with Saint Laurent’s bitter rival, designer Karl Lagerfeld. 

Bergé makes no effort to disguise his distaste for Bascher. “I had to address that period,” said Bergé. “These letters to Yves couldn’t have been written without saying one, that I love him, and two that there were very difficult moments during our relationship.”  thedailybeast .com

Jacques de Bascher
Jacques de Bascher

Insofar as being a muse can be called a function, he functioned as a muse to Karl Lagerfeld. He (Jacques de Bascher) follows a certain dandyish template that I like — let’s call it the charming satanist– and, according to Agenda Inc. the “notorious Moratoire Noir party organized by Jacques de Bascher which introduced the fashion world – for the first time – to the darker edges of the Parisian suburbs and Mapplethorpian quantities of leather.” 

I did find his pretensions to French aristocracy to be, well, pretensions to French aristocracy.

Like most people in the book, he’s fairly disagreeable but what he lacks in character is mitigated by what he lacked in good intentions. (One can forgive anything except meaning well.) Pictures do him less justice than words, which, in this case, is a good thing.


Jacques de Bascher & Kaiser KarlJacques de Bascher & Kaiser Karl

He (Karl Lagerfeld) doesn’t talk about his sexual orientation and maintains that he never had sexual congress with the man he calls the love of his life, the Parisian “It” dandy Jacques de Bascher, who called Lagerfeld “Mein Kaiser” and died of aids in 1989. When Lagerfeld says he “hated the nineties, for some reasons,” it is code for many miserable years suffering with a broken heart, partially expressed by naming his Hellenic-inspired villa in Hamburg “Jako,” an amalgam of their names, and briefly selling a perfume of the same appellation. In fact, De Bascher was the reason Lagerfeld gained weight to begin with. He writes in The Karl Lagerfeld Diet that directly before De Bascher’s death, “I started to lose interest in my appearance, because I knew what was going to happen. I lost interest in myself and trivial matters. I felt old-fashioned in my proper made-to-measure Italian clothes. I started to buy my clothes from Matsuda, Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamoto. I went from small to medium, medium to large, then to extra-large.”   New York Magazine

40298_469045486928_604006928_6238161_832771_nJacques de Basher

Ultimately Pierre Bergé would move out, unable to cope with Yves’s utter self-absorption. As the years went on they both had other interests, other passions, other lovers (most notably Lagerfeld protégé Jacques de Bascher, whose affair with Yves added another dimension to the bitter Lagerfeld/Saint Laurent rivalry).   The Guardian

jacques de bascher by david hockneyJacques de Bascher by David Hockney

This book ( The Beautifal Fall) is about the fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in their heydays in Paris in the 1970s. The city then was awash with wild, glittering young things who spent their nights dancing and schmoozing and stripping off and spraying each other with champagne. There were wild parties with weird installations and vast amounts of drugs. Lagerfeld’s companion Jacques de Bascher de Beaumarchais (yes, the name is fake) loved to titillate his guests. On his parquet sitting-room floor you might find a gynaecologist’s chair, or a posse of firemen, or a Harley Davidson with the wing mirrors pointing upwards and, on each mirror, a pile of cocaine with a straw and a razorblade…  The

Jacques de BascherJacques de Bascher and unknown female
Photo’s underneath, I found on Pinterrest (copyright Phillipe Heurrault), lots more can be found on:
ad7688b36fa130d7a65061c77b7bbf8eYves Saint Laurent & Jacques de Bascher
Pierre Bergé & Jacques de Bascher
Jacques de Bascher & Karl Lagerfeld
Betty Catroux and Jacques de Bascher
Betty Catroux & Jacques de Bascher
Yves Saint Laurent (left) & Jacques de Bascher (looking in the camera)


Dame Edith Sitwell: ‘Good Taste is the Worst Vice ever invented.’

21 Sep
Edith Sitwell multiple exposure, Cecil Beaton, 1962Edith Sitwell multiple exposure, Cecil Beaton, 1962

“The two greatest mannequins of the century were Gertrude Stein and Edith Sitwell – unquestionably.  You just couldn’t take a bad picture of those two old girls” 

A quote by Diana Vreeland 


Short Biography

Edith Sitwell (1887 – 1964) was born in a very wealthy, aristocratic family. She got two younger brothers (also authors), Osbert and Sacheverell, who, like Edith, had a hard time growing up with their eccentric, unloving parents. 

When still a teenager, Edith’s father made her undertake a “cure” for her supposed spinal deformation, involving locking her into an iron frame.

Osbert and Edith SitwellEdith, Sacheverell and Osbert Sitwell, 1930’s

At 23, she began publishing poetry and three years later she moved to a shabby flat in London, which she shared with her governess, Helen Rootham. In 1932 together they moved to Paris to live with Helen’s younger sister. Helen Rootham died six years later of spinal cancer. This was a tragedy for Edith, for she had never lived alone before.

Although she spent her life unmarried, Edith was passionately in love with the homosexual Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew. This love was Edith’s most important, yet most unfulfilling, relationship of her long life. For her the spark was definitely there and it did not matter that she was almost eleven years Pavlik’s senior, initially the relationship was one of great intimacy. 

In the beginning, Pavlik was captivated by Edith’s extraordinary presence and later painted her portrait several times. Sadly, he only offered “Sitvouka” friendship and with no other choice, Edith accepted. Pavel’s interest in her seemed purely intellectual and quite possibly financial, the thought of Edith laying her hands on him in an intimate way appalled him. 

by Cecil Beaton,photograph,1930s
Pavel Tchelitchew by Cecil Beaton, 1930s
Edith In Front Of Her Tchelitchew PortraitEdith In front of a Pavel Tchelitchew Portrait of her

Pavel started to design her clothes and her signature look was born. Edith always tried to be somewhere near Pavel, who once said to her: “Nobody has ever understood you better, or come closer to you than I have and nobody ever will!”

Edith went to New York after the war, where the friendship almost ended as the result of a wild scene that Pavel made in a New York restaurant. Apparently, “white-faced with anger,”  he denounced Edith for being “self-obsessed” and for letting herself be corrupted by the “vulgar social figures that surrounded her.” Pavel further accused her of betraying the poet in her, the part he cherished, and “crudest of all, he coldly told her that everything that had ever been between them now was over.” 

tannerPavel Tchelitchew, Edith Sitwell and Pavel’s partner Allen Tanner

Crushed, Edith sailed for home the next day and spent the entire Atlantic crossing in bed. 

Although, it was possible for her to eventually forgive him the friendship barely survived.  It was a disaster of failed nerves and disappointed expectations on the sides of both.

During the WWII Edith had retired to Renishaw with her brother Osbert and his lover David Horner. She wrote under the light of oil lamps as the house had no electricity. She was lucky that during her lifetime she was surrounded by people who appreciated her and her two brothers as central to the artistic life of the times.

Jane Bown, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1959Edith Sitwell by Jane Brown, 1959

Edith Sitwell provoked many critics in conservative Great Britain because of her dramatic work, but also because of her unusual appearance. She resembled Queen Elizabeth I (they also shared the same birthday) dressed in exotic costumes, brocade and velvet gowns, adorned with gold turbans and huge colourful rings that reflected what she claimed: ‘good taste is the worst vice ever invented.’

She was created Dame of the British Empire in 1954. Three years later Edith got ill and ended up in a wheelchair. She passed away in 1964.


“I am not eccentric. It is just that I am more alive than most people are. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish”.

(Edith Sitwell, quoted in Life magazine, 4 January 1963)
Edith Sitwell, 1962Edith Sitwell, 1962



 Edith Sitwell (and brothers) by Cecil Beaton

Dame Edith Sitwell,by Cecil Beaton1927
Dame Edith Sitwell,by Cecil Beaton1928
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell and her brothers, 1930's
 Edith Sitwell and her brothers, 1930s
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1930's
cecil beaton b
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1927
Vanity Fair, 1929, Cecil Beaton
Vanity Fair. Edith Sitwell and her brothers by Cecil Beaton, 1929
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1930's
006_cecil-beaton_theredlist Edith Stiwell, 1962
1962, the photographs taken for her 75th birthday
1962, the photographs taken for her 75th birthday
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1962
1962, the photographs taken for her 75th birthday
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1960'sv
1962, the photographs taken for her 75th birthday
Cecil Beaton, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1960's m
1962, the photographs taken for her 75th birthday

Edith Sitwell first met Cecil Beaton on 7 December 1926 at the home of Allannah Hooper.  It was a fateful meeting because the photographs that Beaton made of Sitwell later in 1926, then in 1927 and 1931, brought them both much fame. 

The portraits that he took in 1926 and 1927 were all prefabricated set-ups prepared in dimly lit interiors. 

In 1962, wearing her black ostrich feather turban faced with sheer organza, she welcomed Beaton into her apartment at Greenhill in Hampstead. She had commissioned portraits from him to mark her 75th birthday. She knew that they would be published internationally and would create an instant sensation. They did and you can see why. She is performing her eccentric fame for the camera and is much more beautiful at 75 than she was at 25.

Her style was an essential part of her character. But she had also had teasing sense of humour. Early on, Cecil Beaton noted ‘the twinkle in her eye’.

The trouble with most Englishwomen is that they will dress as if they had been a mouse in a previous incarnation, they do not want to attract attention.

Edith Sitwell


Edith Sitwell by Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst, Portrait of Edith Sitwell,1948

Sitwell by Horst p. Horst

horst. p. horst portraitHorst photographed Edith in 1948 for Vogue in New York. Here-along with her aquamarines-Edith wears two massive brooches. Horst says “Edith Sitwell wore extravagant clothes and Jewels; usually the clothes did not fit at all they just hung. She did it exactly her own way and got away with it.” “She was considered an Improbable and anachronistic fashion icon frequently photographed bristling with gigantic aquamarine rings– at least two to a finger, and plastered with vast brooches of semi-precious stones”


The ‘Aztec’ necklace

Edith Sitwell wearing her 'Aztec' neckalceThis gold collar was made for me by an American woman called Millicent Rogers. She was one of my greatest friends, though I only met her once. She sent it to me and the British Museum kept it four days and thought it was pre-Columban, undoubtedly from the tomb of an Inca-though they couldn’t make out how the gold could be stiffened in a way that wasn’t in existence in those days. But I have to be careful of the clanking when I am reciting and don’t often wear it for that.’ 


The rings

Philippe Halsman, Portrait of Edith Sitwell, 1937Ph. Philippe Halsman, 1937

‘I feel undressed without my rings. These aquamarines I love, but I’ve got a beautiful topaz like a sunflower–and when I’ve worn these too much I feel it’s being neglected….I’ve got red and green and black amber bracelets, and a ring I call tiger into grape. Its yellow, veined with blue and red, but when it snows it turns blue.’ 



Edith Sitwell & Marilyn Monroe

George Silk, Portrait of Edith Sitwell and Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood, 1953Edith Sitwell & Marilyn Monroe

People were expecting the two women to dislike each other. Instead of giving the waiting photographers a good scandal, Edith and Marilyn hit it off immediately. Edith described Marilyn in her autobiographyTaken Care Of:

In repose her face was at moments strangely, prophetically tragic, like the face of a beautiful ghost – a little spring-ghost, an innocent fertility daemon, the vegetation spirit that was Ophelia.

Marilyn was an autodidact but her intellectual curiosity and love of books were not considered consistent with her sex symbol image. Marilyn and Edith sat together chatting happily about Austrian philosopher, esoteric spiritual writer, and founder of anthroposophy Rudolf Steiner, whose books Marilyn had recently been reading.


pavel painting of edithPavel Tchelitchew Portrait of Edith Sitwell





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 211 other followers