In a society where everyone knows exactly what everyone else is doing and our most awkward years are documented and catalogued online, it should come as no surprise that the newest online celeb is a young girl with no musical talent whose parents payed to have her make one of the worst vanity videos I have ever seen. With everyone finally getting their fifteen minutes of fame, myself included, the great personalities that have the potential to propel pop culture forward are being broken and forced to conform to some online niche or commoditized before they can be fully formed. Imagine if a young Christa Päffgen had grown up online, not in a Germany being ravaged by WWII, instead of one of the most mysterious and intriguing women of the multimedia revolution that was the 1960s we’d be stuck with another Tavi Gevinson, burnt out on the industry before she started high school. Thank goodness Nico did exist when and how she did, without her many a fashion blogger would be stuck tumbling the same old images.
By the time Christa, rechristened Nico by a photographer at the age of 15, met Andy Warhol and took over as chanteuse of The Velvet Underground, she had already had a successful career in more mediums than one. Nico had been on the pages of Vogue, Camera and Elle, modeled for Coco Chanel herself and had a brief cameo in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita before moving to New York to take acting classes with Lee Strasberg. While in New York she met Brian Jones, of Rolling Stone’s fame, and recorded her first single and eventually met Bob Dylan, without the help of friend requests and poking. Shortly thereafter, Dylan wrote the song “I’ll Keep It with Mine” for her, which was recorded on her first album, Chelsea Girl.
Somewhere along the way Dylan introduced her to Andy Warhol, a collector of bright young things, and we all know what happened next. Nico worked on a few experimental films with Warhol and Paul Morrissey including Chelsea Girls and was introduced to The Velvet Underground as their new singer by their manager Andy Warhol. With Nico in the spotlight, The Velvet Underground became the centerpiece of Warhol’s multimedia experience Exploding Plastic Inevitable and sang lead on three songs, “Femme Fatale”, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror”, on the band’s debut album which was released the same year as Nico’s Chelsea Girls. After working with Andy and The Velvet Underground, Nico continued to to pursue a solo career in music and went back to her bohemian lifestyle living everywhere from New York to Ibiza, where she died after a tragic bike accident in 1988.
Although Nico’s musical style was, and still is, completely muse worthy, her fashion sense has made her the subject many a blog post, including this one. More known for her icy blonde locks and refined features than trendsetting style, Nico’s casual off duty model style and romantic bohemian leanings combined to make her the ideal fashion inspiration for girls put off by today’s over sexed icons. This same casual yet eclectic style helped her stand out from her peers at a time when most models and muses were socialites and debutantes living off of daddy’s money and mommy’s lunch crowd, not much different from today’s professional muses actually.
While Nico’s life was cut short, her accomplishments have inspired everyone from Björk to Siouxsie and the Banshees and her style continues to influence a host of models as they make their way from the catwalk to all of tomorrow’s parties.
Layout by C Rocka
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