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

2 Responses to “Marianne Faithfull, the Original Rock Chic (Part One)”

  1. Soul Safari 5 October 2014 at 21:32 #

    can’t wait for part 2. Pleeeeez….


  1. Boho | Meine Kleider - 26 October 2015

    […] auch immer – hier ein paar inspirierende Links mit vielen alten Fashionfotos: » Marianne Faithful, the Original Rock Chick » Brian Jones, a Rock ‘n’ Roll Dandy » Brian Jones, the Embodiment of […]

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