June 9, 2016
Holly Golightly 1959
Of course we’d never met. Though actually, on the stairs, in the street, we quite often came face to face; but she seemed not quite to see me. She was never without dark glasses, she was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so.
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The literary Holly Golightly also had a cropped, self-induced multi-blonde hairdo, an easy black dress, and pearls around her neck; a Venus symbol. She is supposedly still a teenager but she’s clearly fudging her age a touch. She looks like a model. So this is how I imagine her.
1959 was the year Holly Golightly came out in magazines, before she was immortalized by Audrey Hepburn on screen in 1961. She was a fictional It Girl, based on several very real people who had truly wild lives. Her irreality is besides the point. Capote’s first choice of actress was Marilyn Monroe. It’s interesting to imagine that as you read the book.
Another way that this particular artwork was neutered was when it was published – it was supposed to be in Harper’s Bazaar with beautiful photography by newcomer David Attie, but the editors passed because of the racy content. The story eventually got published in Esquire in November 1958 and was a smash hit, but the dreamy, multiple-exposure photos never made it through. This lost early visual version of Holly is absolutely enchanting. Amazing story.
She’s a wonderful antiheroine for her time. Solitary and elusive, self-made, traveling light, always leaving town. When I decided to start a series inspired by Warhol’s “Girl of the Year” concept, I knew Holly had to be first. I’ve modelled my own style after hers as my own life becomes more airborne. Holly is smart.
She’s also a bit hard under those dark glasses. She never totally opens up and thus remains enigmatic, yet it belies how she’s not necessarily as put together as her performance.