Andy Warhol and I talked as the paparazzi snapped away. We were at Régine’s nightclub in February 1980. He was the famous American artist and the party’s guest of honor and I was a 16-year-old schoolgirl whose full-page portrait was in British Vogue. “Who designed your dress?” Andy asked. “Designed?” I asked. The black tulle tutu dress cost £20 ($26) and came from Ginger, a teeny boutique in Rome. Andy looked amazed. Actually, it was normal. Maybe I was being tooted by Vogue as a beauty “of the eighties.” “The world is their oyster,” or so the subheading purred. But I never splurged on clothes.
Being a socially in-demand party girl (the term ‘it’ girl didn’t exist then) meant causing a media stir whether charming that night’s star, getting the jokes, or dressing to enhance one’s assets, but not dropping a load on clothes. Nowadays, it seems unthinkable. Indeed, I was reminded of this when going to a fashionable wedding in Málaga (I was a friend of the groom’s father) where the groomed beauties were dressed in the latest Chanel, Proenza Schouler, and Valentino, yet were more interested in posting selfies than being outrageous or mixing with people they didn’t know.
Thinking back, I had one seduction outfit during my party-girl period. It was a cropped cotton sweater and camouflage skirt that were found in Ken Market (aka Kensington Street Market), cost less than £60 ($80), and lasted a year. I wore the look on my first date with Mick Jagger in September 1980 when we attended a Stevie Wonder concert. Six months later, when a Brazilian playboy asked me out and introduced me to David Hockney and Liberace, I sported it again. And so it continued. The cheap look hit the bull’s eye with the aging roués. I was also armed with the best accessory in the world: youth, and due to being brought up on the campaign trail (my father was a British member of parliament), could converse with a chair. Let other beauties sulk—my point was being Chatty Natty and having fun.