Friday, October 8, 2010

Fashion Photography: Grey Gardens

Currently there are not one or two, but three television series on the air dedicated to the psychological phenomena of hoarding; A and E’s “Hoarders”, TLC’s “Hoarding; Buried Alive” and Animal Planet’s “Confessions: Animal Hoarding”. You can also count Style channels “Clean House: Search for the Messiest Home in the Country” which is always about hoarders, but which is less judgmental, and much pushier in the clean up.

These programs feature feces reeking, pest infested dumps filled with the owners’ towering psychological baggage (which, in these cases, are manifested in three dimensions all around them).

These shows are the latest trendy replacements to feed America’s thirst for Jerry Springer-type “psycho-tainment”. Watching the crazies implode under the weight of their own garbage is one way to feel better about your own mess. Or you could just clean up…..

America's original reality show hoarders were featured in a low-budget documentary made by Albert and David Maysles in East Hampton in 1975. “Grey Gardens” exposed the decrepit condition of the home lived in by “Big” and “Little” Edie Bouvier Beale (mother and daughter) along with countless cats and occasional raccoons (dead and alive).

The documentary has always been a cult classic among artists and designers; the bittersweet history of the socialites (from the clan of Bouvier) and their odd descent into the hellhole that Grey Gardens became, speaks to the nostalgia felt for the romantically loopy old bats of literature and film, including; Miss Havisham, Blanche DuBois and Norma Desmond.

ince the documentary the story has been made into both a musical and a film (starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lang as Big Edie). Designers continue to pay homage to the faded and dementedly delightful style of the Beales; head scarves (which were worn to cover Little Edie’s hair loss), oddly fitting skirts and dresses that look as though they’ve been concocted from other pieces of clothing, mismatched layers, fur coats and floppy hats all make appearances. 

Grey Gardens During the Documentary
Headwear reminiscent of Little Edie
Little Edie featured in Italian Vogue in her hey day (left), WWD and
Drew Barrymore in costume for the film (right)
Scene from the film (left) and GG inspired Chanel
WWD spread
GG Film Costumes
A poem written by Little Edie (left), Lang and Barrymore in costume (center)
and the gardens circa 1975 (right)
Artwork for the musical and GG inspired Galliano
The Beale's piano room and Big Edie at home in '75
Little Edie before and after (poster from her one-woman cabaret show)

Photography by Rogerio Cavalcanti
Artwork promoting the musical
Layout featured in Zoom Zoom

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