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Fashion Book–Patti Smith, Just Kids

2010 April 15

Last week, thanks to my roommate, I read Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir of her early days in New York and her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. I knew very little about either Smith or Mapplethorpe as I began reading, but I found their story incredibly compelling and interesting. Though it is the story of two artists on their climb to fame and renown, it’s equally a story of a New York City in flux, of a relationship completely pure in its innocence and love, despite a turbulent road.

Smith arrives in Brooklyn in 1967, wide-eyed and broke. She has terrible table manners, a penchant for Rimbaud, and eats more grilled cheese sandwiches than I do (that’s A LOT). Luckily, she finds a soulmate in Mapplethorpe, and the two make their own way in a bygone Manhattan, living in a tiny room at the Chelsea Hotel, surrounding themselves with creative and eccentric characters, including Todd Rundgren, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Andy Warhol. What struck me most was how much I liked the two of them, their individualism and plucky determination.

The book is full of references to the couple’s style–much like themselves, their style was an amalgam of cobbled-together thrifted pieces, simple staples, and signature accessories. They had a style all their own, and this fashion book is dedicated to the both of them.

I vowed…that I would make something of myself, then headed back home, stopping in Camden at the Goodwill store to buy a long gray raincoat.

Poleci linen-blend trench

I gathered up our laundry, slipped on an old cotton dress, wool stockings, and a thick sweater.

Just Kids 1

Old Navy cotton jersey tube dress

B.ella wool kneesocks

Nancy’s Gone Green! wool cardigan (secondhand)

House of Harlow 1960 Tate ankle boot

I dressed completely in black, finishing it off with pristine white Keds. This was one of the most glamorous parties of the season, attended by the upper echelon of art and fashion. I felt like a Buster Keaton character, leaning alone against a wall when Fernando came up. He took me in skeptically. “Darling, the ensemble is fabulous,” he said, patting my hand, eyeing my black jacket, black tie, black silk shirt, and heavily pegged black satin pants, “but I’m not so sure about the white sneakers.”


Just Kids 2


Tison crepe tuxedo jacket

Gabriella Rocha black silk top

Silk bow tie

Start London cotton pegged trouser

Classic Keds

On the Bowery, I found an unconstructed raincoat of kelly green rubberized silk, a Dior blouse of gray houndstooth linen, brown trousers, and an oatmeal cardigan: an entire wardrobe for thirty dollars, just needing a bit of washing and mending.

Just Kids 3

DKNY Houndstooth tee

Coggles Aran natural cardigan

Yoox P.A.R.O.S.H. raincoat

Marc by Marc Jacobs trousers

ASOS AIDAH lace up brogue ankle boot

One Response Post a comment
  1. April 16, 2010

    That book sounds REALLY good. I need to look for it.

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