Behind the Muse | Edie Sedgwick

I think drugs are like strawberries and peaches

- Edie Sedgwick -

When it comes to my Moody Muse candles, I am often asked if I can delve in to the history of the Muses a little bit more. These inspiring & beguiling women are prodigies in their own right. The more I discover about them, the more I find myself being completely in awe of their grit and unapologetic expression of self.

Edie Sedgwick is the Muse behind my beloved Performer Candle and she really is quite the character with a tumultuous tale to tell.

This blog post is the first in my new series - Behind the Muse. Here, I will be uncovering the history of each Muse behind my candles. So grab your snacks, pop on the kettle and get comfortable… You’re in for a ride full of dark secrets, eccentricities and fame…

LET'S START AT THE VERY BEGINNING...

Born on the 20th April 1943 into the fabulously wealthy ‘Sedgwick’ family, Edie was the 7th of 8 children. Many of her family members basked in success and are still regarded as important figures in America’s history. From from actors to writers, politicians & lawyers. Its fair to say, they had it all going on!

Despite their prominence, a number of the Sedgwick family members struggled with mental illnesses - it was even classed as the ‘Family Disease!' Edie’s father suffered with Bipolar Disorder. He would go through extreme bouts of depression & excitement and he thrived off having ultimate control over his children. He raised his family on an isolated cattle ranch in Santa Barbara where he was known as ‘Fuzzy’.

The relationship between the children and their father was very strained. They adored him but also loathed him in the same breath. His control & mood swings led to endless affairs and then on to the physical abuse of his children. It wasn't known then but ultimately Fuzzy was the cause of irreparable damage to his offspring.

At a young age, Edie started to claim that she'd suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Fuzzy branded Edie as ‘insane’ and even had a doctor prescribe her with tranquillisers. Edie's Mother quietly complied with his wishes.

IT GET'S EVEN TRICKIER...

Given the history of mental illness in the Sedgwick family and the traumatic childhood that Edie found herself experiencing, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that Edie’s later years were littered with personal difficulties & strife.

Edie herself struggled with mental health issues and Anorexia. This led to her being admitted to Silver Hill (a psychiatric hospital) in 1962. Despite her suffering during these awful times, Edie's beauty blossomed in her teenage years. The combination of her fragile & unpredictable personality coupled with her radiant good-looks seemed to be somewhat irresistible. By the time she attended a women’s college at Harvard, Edie had all of the boys fawning over her!

Edie fell into a whirlwind romance with a fellow student which led to an unexpected pregnancy, sadly followed by an abortion.

ALONG CAME WARHOL...

After turning 21, Edie moved to New York - finally, she was free! On a quest for vibrancy and reinvention, Edie became something of a party girl. As a vivacious, young beauty, Edie was embraced into New York’s dazzling social scene. And thanks to a large inheritance from her grandmother, funding her newfound lifestyle was no problem at all. But Edie soon realised that being a socialite just wasn’t enough. For young Edie had much bigger aspirations of acting, dancing and modelling.

In 1965, Edie was at a party which would change the course of her life... It was at this party that she had her first encounter with Andy Warhol - little did she know that he was to be the man who would lead her to the fame she most craved. Warhol lay his eyes on Edie and absorbed all of her effervescent charms. Just like that - the famous duo was born. After all, Edie was rich & gorgeous, Warhol was famous and both desired what the other had to offer.

Warhol suggested that Edie stop by his infamous ‘Factory’ in Midtown Manhattan. When Edie arrived, Warhol was in the middle of making ‘Vinyl’ - an all male film. He was quick to suggest that Edie feature in the film. With entire enthusiasm, Edie dived right in and even though the role only required her to smoke and drink, to her, it was all very captivating indeed.

BECOMING WARHOL'S MUSE

It wasn’t long before Edie became Andy’s full time muse. They were the infamous non-couple of the moment! Edie dyed her hair silver so that it would match his own iconic look and in return, Warhol cast her as the leading lady in at least 10 of his films. Everybody in the pop-art scene came to know Edie’s name. Before long she was labelled as ‘Vanity Fair’s Girl’ of 1965… Edie had became famous for well, being famous!

Edie curated her own signature look - silver hair, dark eye makeup, stockings, leotards, mini skirts and anything else which set her apart from the crowd. Ironically, before long, all of the girls in America & beyond were copying her ‘unique’ style. Lifestyle magazine even claimed that Edie was "doing more for black tights than anybody since Hamlet!"

Perhaps due to the absence of a ‘father figure’ in her childhood, Edie began to see Warhol as her own father figure instead. She completely adored him but sadly, the infatuation with him was not to last…

It took less than a year for things to start to fall apart between Edie and Warhol. Edie began to lose faith in his abilities and started to believe that the films he was encouraging her to be a part of, made her look like a fool. Andy had also been frivolously spending Edie's inheritance. The funds were running out and yet Andy refused to pay Edie for her participation in his films. Tensions were running high. This led Edie to gain interest in another popular art figure…

EDIE MEETS BOB...DYLAN

Through a chance encounter at Warhol’s factory, Edie met Bob Dylan. Her infatuation with the musician was immediate and even though their relationship was never confirmed, there was a clear flirtatious nature between the two. Edie later confessed she had "fallen madly in love" with Dylan. Some were even quick to claim that Dylan’s songs ‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’, ‘Just Like A Woman’ and ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ were all inspired by Edie Sedgwick.

Sadly, Edie & Dylan were not to last. The couple parted ways and shortly after their break-up it was announced that Dylan had married Sara Lowndes during a secret ceremony. Upon learning the news, Edie was devastated. To make matters worse, she was no longer starring in Warhol’s films and she found herself being completely estranged from him and his inner circle. It was no coincidence that her money had almost entirely run out too.

It's not that i'm rebelling. It's that i'm just trying to find another way.

- Edie Sedgwick -

EDIE THE YOUTHQUAKER

It wasn’t just Edie’s personal dramas that seemed to be escalating - so was the battle with her demons.

In 1966, Edie was photographed by ‘Vogue’ with the intention to feature her on their cover and tout her a ‘Youthquaker’ - representing a new cultural movement in the 1960’s. However, due to her excessive drug use, Vogue put a stop to the feature and Edie was never allowed in to the revered Vogue family.

After living in the Chelsea Hotel for a short amount of time, Edie decided to go home for Christmas. The Chelsea were pleased to see her go. The arguments in the lobby about her unpaid bills drew too much attention and she was always setting her room on fire with drug paraphernalia. When she arrived at her families ranch, her brother branded her behaviour at the ranch as ‘strange’ and ‘alien like’. She was hospitalised immediately.

Edie's relationship with Neuwirth broke down due to her continuing drug addiction. He left in despair in early 1967. Edie had fled the hospital and was living in her grandmothers apartment where she would steal antiques to exchange for drugs. Whilst filming a semi-biographical film called ‘Ciao! Manhattan’, Edie was forced to put a hold on the production due to poor health as a result of her drug use (She eventually managed to complete the film in 1971)

VIBRANT EDIE'S END

Edie’s mental health woefully continued to spiral and she once again became familiar with the hard beds of mental institutions. Thankfully a small ray of hope entered her life in the form of a fellow patient called Michael Post. Michael & Edie fell in love quickly before getting married in July, 1971.

Although it is rumoured that Edie stopped using drugs and alcohol for a short period of time, Edie was prescribed pain medication in October 1971, which then led on to a renewed abuse of barbiturates and alcohol.

On 16th November 1971, Edie tragically met her end as a result of an overdose on barbiturates… The same drug that killed Marilyn Monroe.

Edie was only 28 years of age.