ICONIC FITS: PARTY IT GIRLS THROUGH THE DECADES

ICONIC FITS: PARTY IT GIRLS THROUGH THE DECADES

ICONIC FITS:

PARTY IT GIRLS THROUGH THE DECADES

Edie Sedgwick, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton: writer Emma Firth explores the most iconic party girl outfits of all time.

WORDS: EMMA FIRTH Photographer: JANE DOE

From Edie Sedgwick’s iconic Factory Girl look to ‘90s nonchalance a la Kate Moss and co – to celebrate party season, writer Emma Firth revisits the most iconic party girl outfits of all time and the stylish characters who knew how to make a scene.

“I’m sorry, this table is reserved…” a man informs me and a newly seated friend at one fashion party. A somewhat perturbing announcement, none of the other ones are, I thought, looking around. That was until the reservation in question turned out to be for the intimidatingly glamourous Joan Collins, shimmying over in a sequinned black overcoat. OK, fair. This is a woman who once proclaimed: “No one dresses up anymore!” Still, dressing up for a party is a personal endeavour, an art and a journey of trial and error. ‘Tis the season, in other words, for a little gentle persuasion. With that I present you some of my all-time favourite, undoubtedly iconic, night owls over the decades whose wardrobes will forever inspire…

THE MAKING OF A MUSE IN THE ‘60S

There’s cool, and then there’s Edie Sedgwick. She just had it, whatever it is. The ‘60s style icon, socialite and Warhol muse understood the power of constructing a public self-image. One that flirted with a kind of doe-eyed girlishness and feverish rebellion at the same time. There are the obvious signifiers — a collection of black micro-dresses, a signature white pixie crop with dark roots showing through, and thickly-drawn kohl eyeliner (an art piece in and of itself). Then there were the other details. Sometimes small accents, though no less significant. Like a pair of wildly decorative earrings catching the light at a Factory party; her most beloved of accessories, legend has it, is said to have inspired Bob Dylan’s song ‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’; coats draped effortlessly to expose a bare shoulder; making hosiery look…hot (“this cropped-mop girl with the eloquent legs is doing more for black tights than anyone since Hamlet,” according to her Life Magazine cover story in 1965). Above all else? The most seductive of statements? She just seemed to be having a really good time. It’s hard to find a picture of her not smiling.

During the latter half of the ‘60s, too, it’s impossible not the mention the original influencer: the late, great Jane Birkin. Whether wearing a naked dress, shimmering Paco Rabanne, or cream crochet to a black-tie event, she never looked too contrived or too polished. Just ceaselessly chic.

THAT ‘70S SHOW

I have a special attachment to the majestic party scene in ‘70s NYC. Everything just felt bigger. Sexier, shinier, gossipier. Studio54, where Bianca Jagger was pictured in a long red dress on horseback for her 30th Birthday party in 1977, was the (disco) beating heart of the social scene. Like a slightly sweatier, infinitely hornier, fashion runway you could dance all night in. Years ago, speaking to supermodel Pat Cleveland, and regular club attendee - along with the likes of Diana Ross, Cher, and Grace Jones – she recalls part of its magic during this golden age was its allusiveness. Pre-social media, computers, mobile phones. Where you had to go out and meet your friends on the corner under a lamppost (you’d always see them because they’d be twinkling in the dark in their sequins). “I think there’s an instinctive hark back to ‘70s glam beauty [too] for party season,” my former colleague and makeup artist extraordinaire Andrew Gallimore observes. “Grace Jones was always MEGA, glistening gold skin, burgundy and black bold eyes. Makeup can help to transform you, not necessarily into someone else, but your best self.”

‘80S PARISIAN PERSUASIAN

When it comes to a playful party vibe, vintage Carla Bruni is unsurpassable. Circa ’92, say, the va-va-voom hair, Versace animal print catsuit. Exquisite. Though there’s one delectable party pap, at a dinner for ELLE magazine in the late 1980s, chatting to Monica Bellucci, that’s particularly arresting. Luckily for lazy girls, it also happens to take less than ten minutes to put together. The best endorsement for a classic black cami dress, some jazzy black tights and hair hurriedly pulled half-up into a bow Bardot-style, there ever was.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999

Surveying Instagram friends for their most iconic party looks over the years, an obscene amount of those responses featured Kate Moss at some shindig. Celebrating the beginning of her 30s in a sequinned dress for example, worn originally by Bond Girl, Britt Ekland, in 1974 (the brief: The Beautiful and Damned). Or her 33rd celebrations, the Doherty years, where the ‘Big Fuzzy Coat’ was the main character. Or the famous less-is-more see-through maxi slip dress the then 19-year-old model wore to an afterparty in 1993, which happened to be a beautiful accident. “In the darkness of Corinne’s Soho flat [getting ready] the dress was not see-through,” she told Vogue. Her and Naomi Campbell’s Versace chainmail slip dresses in ’99, however, is a lesson in sticking to the ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ script.

That same decade, across the pond, another star was born. Carrie Bradshaw. The poster single girl in the big city, walking into a new millennium (most likely in Manolo Blahniks). Someone who wanted to see and be seen. Even if you’ve, tragically, never watched an episode of Sex and the City, you’ve likely come across replicas of ‘The Dress’. The ‘naked dress’ (Sarah Jessica Parker channelled her alter ego in the beige DKNY slip on the red carpet in 1997). In the ‘90s there wasn’t a huge fanfare surrounding celebrity stylists back then. Simpler times, getting over the hangover of the ‘80s excess, when getting dressed was more instinctual. For any nostalgia nerd, SJP’s boob tube, hair-scraped-back and white pants combination — whilst sipping a cocktail at a closing party in 1999 — serves as a postcard to embracing a new kind of minimalism.

THE ROARING 2000s

Ah! The naughty noughties. To this day, Y2K looks continue to divide popular opinion. On reflection, the era’s partywear sort of felt like a mesh of bygone trends and resulting in varying degrees of chaos. Fine, but it was never, I repeat, ever, boring. Paris Hilton’s bejewelled, Julien Macdonald-designed, mini dress and matching choker necklace on her 21st birthday in 2002 is, for example, outrageous. In the very best way. Like ‘quiet luxury’s’ wayward, much louder, cousin. Almost titillating on the tongue-in-cheek. Like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore’s big girly night out in 2003. “I love the juxtaposition of the slogan tee ‘My Boyfriend Is Out Of Town’ with the incredibly expensive champagne,” my friend Katie agrees. “Like, you need the glamour and luxury to feel fabulous and sexy, but you need the grunginess to have the freedom to go absolutely f**king wild!”

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