Anita Pallenberg – Fashion Icon

Anita Pallenberg – Fashion Icon

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Fashion Scene 5

Born to Italian and German parents, Anita Pallenberg was the mother of all rock chicks and with her passing in June we say goodbye to someone who embodied the style and sass of the mid to late 60s like no other.

She started her career as a model in her teens in Italy and New York, where she even spent time at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Her life was to change in 1965 when she blagged her way backstage at a Rolling Stones gig in Munich.

She began a relationship with Brian Jones, the two of them were often photographed about town in virtually matching outfits. They were the ultimate in rock & roll 60s cool. Drink and violence eventually drove the couple apart and Pallenberg and guitarist Keith Richards became an item soon after. They remained together for 12 years and had three children.

Although much of the press covering Pallenberg focuses on her intimate relationships with the Stones, her role as the so-called ‘Sixth Rolling Stone’ went way beyond sex and drugs. She was a muse in every sense of the word – a true, deep, visual and musical inspiration.

Jagger was said to have remixed tracks on the band’s 1968 album Beggars Banquet because she didn’t like it on a first hearing. The songs ‘Angie’ and ‘You Got the Silver’ were also said to be written about her and she also provided backing vocals on the 1968 ‘Sympathy for the Devil.’ Richards is said to have written ‘Gimme Shelter’ in reaction to the fact that his girlfriend was across town filming the, ‘not so simulated’ sex scenes with Mick Jagger in the raucous 60s romp ‘Performance.’

Beyond the sex, drugs and rock n roll, it was Pallenberg’s love of fashion that made her one of the coolest women of the era and in turn her natural ability to nail that ‘just got out of bed with a rock star’ look soon rubbed off on the band’s own style. These once suited and booted RnB boys evolved into cocky, dandyish, lolloping rock icons that they have been regarded as ever since. This transformation was largely down to Pallenberg. She just seemed to know what looked good.

Marianne Faithfull wrote of her friend in her biography ‘Faithful’: “How Anita came to be with Brian is really the story of how the Stones became the Stones. She almost single-handedly engineered a true cultural revolution in London by bringing together the Stones and the jeunesse dorée… The Stones came away with a patina of aristocratic decadence that served as a perfect counterfoil to the raw roots blues of their music. This… transformed the Stones from just pop stars into true cultural icons.”

For example, when she was with Jones she dyed his hair even blonder and dressed him in women’s clothes. He once asked her to dress him up to look like French singer Françoise Hardy. By 1967 the Stones were wearing Pallenberg’s trademark Fedora hats, scarfs and fur coats. Keith Richards once said that he started to become a fashion icon simply for “wearing his old lady’s clothes.”

She was the queen of the 60s accessory. The antithesis of the clean cut, butter wouldn’t melt, look of Twiggy. Every outfit was finished with either a low slung large buckle belt, a swishing boa style scarf draped over her long-legged frame and topped off with a wide brimmed hat. Mini skirts would be worn short as you like with knee length suede boots and full length fur coats.

Her flamboyant looks also saw Pallenberg carve out a decent career as an actress. She made 15 films, among them the iconic 60s kitsch classic ‘Barbarella’ where she played the ‘Black Queen’ alongside Jane Fonda in the lead role – her black cat suit cut away in all the right places by Paco Rabanne. After her split with Richards, Pallenberg went on to follow a career in fashion which saw her graduate from St Martins in the 90s and in later days was seen either strutting down the runway herself or hanging out with latter day ‘it girls’ such as model Kate Moss.

Sadly, she never wrote an autobiography because she said the publishers would only be interested in her dishing the dirt on the Stones. Her influence on fashion however will live on. She wasn’t styled by anyone else but herself – her look was hers alone but has been much imitated. A rare bird indeed. Rest in peace Anita.


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Claire Mahoney

At the age of 13 mod made perfect sense to me. I liked the look and the attitude - but most of all I liked the music. Secret Affair was my entry point, but they were soon playing second fiddle in my affections to The Jam. Paul Weller, of course, proceeded to break mine and many others hearts in 1982, when he put an end to that particular musical roller coaster – but what it meant was that, uninterested in anything else that was happening in music at the time, I had to look back. I was lucky enough to be given two plastic bags full of 60s 45s by my uncle who used to stock the jukeboxes back in the day. Their contents included a number of Stax originals, plus the Who and the Small Faces, as well as Motown classics from The Four Tops and the Supremes. So, when Phil Collins charted in the mid 80s with 'You Can't Hurry Love' it was nice to be able to say: “I've got the original of that!” It became quite an irritating habit of mine over the years. These days I still enjoy discovering new, old music, be it soul, rnb or jazz, as well as witnessing mod taken another turn among today's youth with bands like The Strypes. My day job as a journalist means I am lucky enough to be able to write about music and modernism now and again. Other than that you'll find me mostly on the dance floor or on eBay still looking for that perfect A line dress.

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July 3, 2017 By : Category : Articles,Fashion,Front Page,News,UK Tags:, , , , ,
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