This article is from 2006, but quite nicely captures the attention being paid to Edie's fashion sense at the time. Edie's star as a fashion icon has only been rising since this article appeared.
The brilliant William Ivey Long is featured prominently in this article. Another costume designer interpreting Little Edie's style is Catherine Marie Thomas, who, according to IMDb, is responsible for Drew Barrymore's looks in the upcoming Grey Gardens feature being filmed in Toronto.
And, while we're on the topic of fashion, Phillip Lim referenced our girls in his Fall 2007 collection.
From New York Daily News, on 19 February 2006
Little Edie, Big Style
The unlikely fashion icon continues to make her mark - on the stage and the runway
Over the past 40 years, there has been no shortage of editors, designers and museum curators willing to cast Jacqueline Kennedy as the most important style icon of the 20th century. So there is more than a little irony in the current frenzy for Edie Beale, her eccentric first cousin, who was as well known for the sweaters she wrapped around her head as she was for the bizarre life she lived with her mother, scores of cats and a family of raccoons in a decaying East Hampton mansion known as Grey Gardens.
But four years after her death, there is no denying this is Edie's Moment.
It was evident last week on Marc Jacobs' runway, where his fall collection was filled with wools, cashmeres, chiffons and sequins worn, as Edie would, in mismatched layers of leggings, skirts, coats and furs.
It's evident, too, in Mary-Kate Olsen's trash-can chic, in which the billionaire actress-entrepreneur manages to make everything look just-found and tossed-on. And it's evident, of course, in the new musical "Grey Gardens," the Broadway version of the 1975 Maysles Brothers documentary that exposed the Beales' unapologetically anti-Jackie style.
"Edie Beale's look goes beyond fashion. It's the true meaning of the word style," says designer Isaac Mizrahi, a longtime devotee. "She had a passion for clothes and a way of putting them together that has stuck in my mind and influenced what I do. The way that we now make mistakes on purpose comes from Edie Beale. I'm still and always trying to match her sense of the absurd, her playfulness, her sense of the drama of clothing."
"I love an alternative point of view," agrees funky designer Todd Oldham. "And none was more distinct than hers."
On the surface, it seems impossible that Beale - "Little Edie" to her mother's "Big Edie" - could have such clout. Though she grew up wealthy (her uncle was Jackie's father; her own father was a Wall Street lawyer), she wound up descending into such squalor that the Suffolk County Health Department threatened to evict her and her mother in 1971 if their 28-room house wasn't cleaned up. (Jackie and her Gucci wallet came to the rescue.)
And just as their view of proper housekeeping was skewed, so was their sense of dress. Edie would swath her bald head in cashmere sweaters. And fasten the swaddling with a gaudy brooch. She wore towels as dresses. And skirts upside down. And tied the ends together like a sarong (before Yohji Yamamoto did it) or fastened them with safety pins (pre-Gianni Versace). Every piece - many from Bergdorf Goodman, many cast-offs from Jackie - was rearranged to fit the moment.
"Why wear a skirt upside down?" says Christine Ebersole, who plays both Edies in the new musical. "You do if your waistline has expanded and you can't close it at the waist."
Improvisation was the beauty of it. "'Designer' clothes went out in the 1980s, and what replaced them is the idea of styling things," says Mizrahi, who interprets the high-low sensibility into his Target cheap-chic and his private couture. "Found things, absurd things, old things, even threadbare things, things with patina and brand-new things."
An Imaginary First Act
To channel Edie for the stage version of "Grey Gardens," costume designer William Ivey Long studied not only the original documentary, but the youthful photos that the Beales show off in the film. He used them to create beaded and floaty ballgowns for an imaginary first act that takes place on the day Little Edie is to be engaged to Joseph Kennedy Jr. (It never happened.)
For the second act - essentially a re-creation of the movie - the clothes are grittier. "Everything begins as a skirt or a sweater, and your job is to figure out what did she do with it," Long laughs. "I can encapsulate her entire design esthetic into four looks."
Though Long is known for such wild costumes as the Bavarian sausage headpieces for "The Producers" and Edna Turnblad's Pucci prints in "Hairspray," the already off-kilter Edie needs no props. "I tried not to think of her as madcap, but as making truly comfortable clothes out of very good previously constructed comfortable clothes."
Perhaps the closest reincarnation of Edie so far comes from the Olsen twins, who (Badgley Mischka contract or not) have created a style that is pure anti-style. "Here are two girls who can wear whatever they want, and the way they choose to put themselves together is layered, free-spirit, pile-it-on, can't-tell-what-designer, is it vintage, is it old, did they get it for free or did they pay for it," says Kristina O'Neill, fashion features director of Harper's Bazaar. "They look like they think for themselves when they get dressed."
And that may be the ultimate allure of Edie's style. Says O'Neill: "We're fascinated by people who make interesting choices, who are not robotic dressers."